Foggy, misty mornings, not uncommon here in California’s central valley during winter, are when I want to fill my kitchen with the aroma of homebaked spicy-smelling foods; like gingerbread muffins with golden raisins and chopped walnuts. Spicy-smells, like ginger and molasses weren’t really the only reason I chose to bake gingerbread muffins. The other reason was a little jar of Pumpkin Butter with Port that I had brought back from a trip to Washington (pictures from some of my travels can be viewed on my Flickr Photos – just click on a picture and you’ll be taken to the site) earlier this year. This wasn’t the first time I have purchased this butter, but it had been a while. So when I saw it I knew it was going home with me and sometime this winter it would be accompanying some warm gingerbread.
As I started to write this I thought I should find a link to the company that sells the pumpkin butter, Aloha from Oregon, just in case you would like to try it too. Having found the link I became curious as to the companies name since I hardly think of the word Aloha when I think of Oregon. Well it seems that the post office in Aloha, OR, just west of Beaverton, was established in 1912 and Robert Caples, a railroad man from the area, supposedly gave the the town it’s name but the reason for its origin was unknown until 1983, when it was revealed by Joseph H. Buck of King City, that his uncle Julius Buck, was the first postmaster and that he named the office Aloah after a small resort on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, but that during the application process the last two letters were transposed by the Post Office Department, resulting the shift from a Midwestern Indian name to a Hawaiian word. Now, that’s a story I can believe.
For a recipe for the muffins I went to my James Beard’s American Cookery cookbook. Hopefully you can see the age and wear on this much loved book from my collection in the photograph. This page contains not only the gingerbread recipe but the cornbread recipe I have used for the past forty some years. I added the golden raisins and chopped walnuts to give the muffins more body and texture. Another great combination might be dried cranberries and chopped pecans. They were served warm from the oven with the pumpkin butter and were deliciously satisfying.
James Beard’s American Cookery (©1972)
1 cup light or dark molasses
½ cup boiling water
5 tablespoons butter
½ t salt
1 ½ to 2 t ginger
1 t baking soda
1 cups all-purpose flour
Put the molasses in a mixing bowl and add the boiling water and butter. Stir until well mixed. Add the salt, ginger, and soda, and stir lightly. Stir in the flour just enough to moisten and mix. Turn into a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan Bake at 375 degrees 25 – 35 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and the mixture is pulling away from the sides of the pan.
I added about ½ cup golden raisins and the same amount of chopped walnuts. Baking cupcakes or muffins takes less time, test for doneness by touching the muffin top to see if it springs back when lightly pressed.