STARBUCKS HOLIDAY GINGERBREAD

As you have probably figured out by the name, this moist spiced loaf of gingerbread is only available at Starbucks during the holiday season, but you don’t have to wait until then to enjoy this popular favorite since you now have a clone recipe to re-create a spot-on version anytime you want. The secret ingredient is applesauce in the batter, which helps make the loaf moist and flavorful. Ground ginger and bits of candied ginger add the perfect ginger flavor to the loaf, and orange flavors come in from the zest, orange extract, and candied orange peel on top. With such an overwhelming aroma coming out of your oven as this bakes, the toughest step is waiting for the loaf to cool before frosting it so that you can dig into a slice.

CANDIED ORANGE PEEL
1 medium orange
½ cup water
¾ cup granulated sugar

GINGERBREAD
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1⅔ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1¼ cups unsweetened applesauce
¼ teaspoon orange extract
2 tablespoons minced candied ginger
1½ teaspoons minced orange zest
11 ounces (2¼ cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 ounces (1¾ cups) powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon orange extract


Cooking method

1-Make the candied orange peel by slicing the top and bottom off of an orange. Sit the orange up on one of the sliced ends, then slice it in half. Use one half to make (with a zester) the 1½ teaspoons of orange zest to be added later to the batter. Chop the zest into small bits after zesting the entire orange half. Slice the other half of orange into quarters then slice the peel away from the orange segments. Try to remove most of the white pith, which is very bitter. Slice the 4 peel segments into ¼- inch-wide strips.

2-Fill a small saucepan with 2 cups of cold water and drop in the orange peel strips. When the water begins to boil, set a timer for 5 minutes. When the peels have boiled for 5 minutes, strain them out of the water and repeat the process with another 2 cups of cold water. After the second blanching, pour the ½ cup of water into the saucepan along with the ¾ cup of sugar. Bring the sugar solution to a boil (the sugar will have dissolved), then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the orange peels and cook for 20 minutes or until the white part of the peels is beginning to turn transparent. Do not stir or the sugar may crystallize. Reduce the heat if necessary while cooking so that the solution is only gently bubbling. Remove all of the peels to a rack to dry. When the candied peels have dried, chop them into a very small dice. The peels will be sticky at first but will eventually harden on the outside.

3-Prepare the gingerbread by first preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

4-Combine the butter, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed for 1 minute. Add the applesauce, orange extract, candied ginger, and orange zest. Mix well.

5-Combine the flour with the ground ginger, salt, baking soda, baking powder, ground cloves, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix well with the electric mixer on high speed. Transfer the batter to a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan that has been well coated with butter. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the edges are dark brown and the center is firm to the touch. Cool completely before frosting.

6-Make the frosting by combining the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and orange extract in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Beat for 1 minute.

7-When the gingerbread has cooled completely, remove it from the pan. Frost the top of the loaf and sprinkle the top with the candied orange peel. Slice into 8 portions to serve.

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