What is the spice of life? There is a saying that “variety is the spice of life” but how is variety a spice? I understand that interprets to doing or experiencing many different things in order to “spice things up” but why would we use the word “spice” in this way in the first place? These sayings we have actually have their roots in history when we more commonly used spices and herbs to fix what ailed us. As an example, the Kama Sutra, written about 2000 years ago has a whole chapter on the use of spices for certain issues that may arise sexually. But spices were not only used to cure sexual ailments. There is a plant to help with any part of the body. Undeniably, there is a growing movement to get back to the natural forms of food. Using food as medicine, using it to boost mood, libido, energy even using it to calm, relax and soothe. I’m sure many have used food in this way ~your favourite comfort food, what is it and why? It may be linked to a memory of Mom or Grandma or some significant person having made it for you or maybe there actually is something in it that also triggers these emotional or biological responses. I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the memes about coffee you may even feel a bond with the drink. Is it the taste? The warmth? or is it the caffeine causing the effect? Maybe a combination of those.
This is a recipe that is meant to bring energy, heat and vitality through the winter months. It has many different spices that are known to warm the body like clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. There is also orange, or rather clementines that have become synonymous with the holiday season. A treat in pioneer times as fresh produce was hard to come by in winter the tradition has remained and it also goes so nicely with chocolate and ginger.
It is reminiscent of the German Lebkuchen. My children, when they tried it, said it reminded them of Christmas as my husband is German so when we took them to Oma and Opa’s they would offer Lebkuchenhertzen on a fancy plate.
A little background: “Leb” comes from Leben which translates to “life” and these “life” cookies were spiced with none other than ginger.
There is also a saying that “ginger is the spice of life” and that makes more literal sense. Ginger has many well-known medicinal benefits like warming the body, boosting immunity, soothing an upset stomach and helping to control nausea. So you can see that with all these benefits why ginger would be the spice of life. It can help sustain you through the winter months. With cold and flu season underway and going in to winter it’s a necessity to ingest on a regular basis. This loaf cake has warming, comforting, nurturing ingredients that you may want to serve at a holiday party or give as a gift instead of a fruitcake (which I love but I think that tradition has fizzled out over the last few decades). Or eat the whole thing to yourself… with moderation of course!
Spiced Chocolate~Orange Gingerbread Loaf Cake
- 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
- 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 1/ 4 cup candied ginger finely diced
- 1/4 cup candied citrus
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tsp sole or salt
- 1 tsp orange extract
- juice of 1/2 orange or a whole clementine
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp grated fresh or ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp clove powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sugar
Optional ganache topping:
- 100 g bar of 70% dark chocolate broken into pieces
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp orange extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare 2 loaf pans by lightly coating with vegetable oil. Grind the chia and flax together if not already ground and add 6 tablespoons water. Stir and let it sit until thickened.
Mix the wet ingredients together, in a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Add the chia-flax mixture to the wet ingredients then add the dry ingredients. Add the candied ginger and citrus. Separate between the loaf pans. The mixture should come up about half way. Bake for about 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let them rest on cooling racks at least 15 minutes before flipping onto serving tray. Spread on the optional ganache.
Use a double boiler or: Bring a small pot of water filled about 2 inches to a gentle boil with a heat proof bowl sitting over the water (the bowl should not be in the water we want to use steam to melt the chocolate) when chocolate has melted remove from heat, add the coconut milk and orange extract and whisk together. Let cool slightly before topping the Loaf. Add more candied citrus if desired.