Gingerbread Cake (Happy Birthday Ames Food Swap!)

January 20, 2014
Gingerbread Cake 18 - 1024x

A year ago, the Ames Food Swap met for the first time

Gingerbread Cake - Happy Birthday to the Ames Food Swap! (and a few thoughts on success)

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As I sit this evening, looking out the front window of my favorite coffee shop, I can't help but look back and reflect

I remember the cold day in January 2013, when a few of us brought our favorite lunches and gave it a test run.  Having no idea really, what we were doing, which seemed to make it all the more fun

Fast-forward to this afternoon, our favorite recipes of Food From Around the World.  A wonderful mix of veterans and newcomers as well, one swapper surprising us all by traveling from Minneapolis with authentic Ethiopian fare!

Gingerbread Cake - Happy Birthday to the Ames Food Swap! (and a few thoughts on success)

Has it been a success?

Like most things in life, it depends on who you ask.  For me, the definition coming after much soul-searching.  A long and winding journey to find my center

Our first event came and went.  A group photo is one of the natural by-products, and people counted

Our second swap produced a similar picture, and more people counted.  This time, the difference being, there was something to compare against. “Wow!  How cool is that?  You doubled in size.”

A spring in my step, “Yep.”

Gingerbread Cake - Happy Birthday to the Ames Food Swap! (and a few thoughts on success)

March rolled around, “Huh, you only grew by two.  Better luck next time.”

April was our black swan, with the number of people equaling that of January. “Uh, what happened?

I quickly sprang into action.  If numbers were going to determine our success, I tell you what; there were going to be a LOT of bodies in the picture.

Days were spent putting flyers up all over town, offering give-aways if new people came.  I talked to everyone I could, sent out surveys asking for input, and baked treats to give away.

Gingerbread Cake - Happy Birthday to the Ames Food Swap! (and a few thoughts on success)

And then, one day, a casual conversation with a friend.  The words rolling off their tongue. “Nobody ever comes anyway.”



I'm sure they don't even remember the comment, but just like that ..

I stopped, took stock, and asked myself some questions.  Was it worth continuing?  Was it good for those of us that came every month? What was the tone I wanted to set?

Gingerbread Cake - Happy Birthday to the Ames Food Swap! (and a few thoughts on success)

Most importantly, what was the gift of service the swap could offer to the community?

Because at the end of the day, it was the spirit of serving others that reminded me why I'd started.  A place where my gut felt ok again

Drawing the definition of success, not from the popularity contest of a Facebook like, or a random web-site photo without proper context.  But instead, what is better found in life's quiet, more ordinary moments

Maybe someone

Comes home after a long day, not to an empty fridge, but instead to a nutritious meal

Has a snack at the ready as they drive home in the dark, with only talk radio to keep them company

Enjoys the company of others for a few hours on a random Sunday afternoon

Discovers a new cooking idea or technique

Gingerbread Cake - Happy Birthday to the Ames Food Swap! (and a few thoughts on success)


A husband and wife spend a day together, with a bottle of wine, cooking in preparation for the swap

Two friends have a beautiful excuse to get together, at least once a month

Sisters enjoy an evening because one journeyed to attend

A mom introduces the world of cooking and community to one of her kids when he or she tags along

Two people, who might not travel in the same circles, share a glass of wine

A wonderful recipe is shared

A memory is made

Gingerbread Cake - Happy Birthday to the Ames Food Swap! (and a few thoughts on success)

So as the swap quietly turns one

I couldn't think of something more appropriate than cake, gingerbread, in fact.

Something simple, almost boring to look at, but to those who get close enough to give it a try, like most good things in life, it's surprisingly delicious on the inside, with a few surprises in store

A heartfelt Thank you to all who have helped write the story of the Ames Food Swap this past year.  We hope to see you again in 2014



~ Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

Gingerbread Cake


  • 1 ¼ cup Kamut flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp aniseed
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ cup coconut oil melted, but not hot
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ¼ cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 1 egg (large or XL)
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger


  • Preheat the oven to 350° F
  • In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, stirring gently with a whisk to ensure the spices are well mixed.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, yogurt, brown sugar, apple sauce, molasses, egg, and grated ginger. Add this to the dry ingredients and fold to combine.
  • Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9" round cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean
Serves: 12
Nutrition + Show
Calories 248
Total Fat 7.5g
Saturated Fat 5g
Carbohydrates 40.2g
Fiber 3.5g
Sugars 16.5g
Protein 5.8g
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1 Comment

  • Reply Heydave January 21, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    4 stars
    I’ve been to most of the swaps and have enjoyed them all. Success for me is in looking back and realizing there was always something new to taste, always someone fun to talk to, and always some extra thought that made me re-evaluate food’s place in my life.

    Thanks for the now-year-old idea and inspiration!

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