12 December 2013

Gingerbread - The Cake


Gingerbread is one of those things that always tastes even better the next day, so it's a great thing to make when you really need to get some of the cooking done the day before. Spicy and sweet, gingerbread is often too sweet for my taste. If you're looking for a sticky and cloyingly sweet gingerbread, this isn't it.

A lemon sauce is classic with gingerbread, but I think it is too assertive for the spicy cake. I prefer a lovely Custard Sauce or a dollop of not-too-sweet whipped cream or even a mere dusting of powdered sugar. A cake worthy of the most accomplished bakers, it's also perfect for novices. Requiring no real technique or special equipment, just a big spoon and bowl, it's virtually foolproof.  

Gingerbread cookies, tasty as they are, are something I never make. I prefer my chewy Molasses Ginger Cookies. About the only rolled cookies I ever make are vanilla-scented all-butter rolled sugar cookies, which I have not yet posted. Note to self: Get on it! What are you baking?

Gingerbread

(Makes one 11x11x2-inch or 13x9x2-inch cake)

2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks / 6 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/2 cup hot water (from the kettle, not the tap)
Fine grated zest of an orange
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
2 teaspoons vanilla, optional

* Or put 2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice in 1-cup measure and add milk to make 1 cup; stir and let stand for 5 minutes.

1 Prepare an 11x11-inch square or 13x9x2-inch pan. If you'll be serving gingerbread directly from the pan, just grease it or spray with cooking spray. If you'll be turning it out of the pan, grease and flour it. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 In large mixing bowl (you won't need a stand mixer or even a hand mixer for this), whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices.

3 In 2-cup glass measure, melt the butter; add the molasses and hot water to the cup (don't bother to stir). Pour into the dry ingredients, and with large spoon mix just enough to moisten. Sprinkle orange zest over the batter.

4 In same 2-cup glass measure (no need to wash), whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Stir into the batter in fourths, mixing well after each addition, then beat rather vigorously by hand for 1 minute.

5 Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Run a knife through the batter a few times to break up any large air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until it is pulling away from the sides of the pan and tests done with a toothpick.

6 If serving from the pan, let cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting. If turning out, cool in pan on wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn out and continue cooling on wire rack. Will keep at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil, for up to 4 days. Can be frozen, double-wrapped, for a month. Thaw, wrapped, at room temperature.

PS Let's talk spice storage options. I've never been a fan of those attractive spice racks that either go on the wall or sit on the counter and require you to transfer every spice you buy into the attractive bottles that come with it. And I'm not keen on giving up counter space or drawer space to spice storage. So when we remodeled the kitchen nearly seven years ago, I hunted down just what I wanted! Here it is:


It is fabulous! The SpiceStack Flip-Down Cabinet Organizer holds 27 to 54 herb and spice bottles, depending on whether they are the tall or short ones (comes in other sizes as well). And it is so inexpensive, you can buy two if you like!  I have it sitting on the bottom shelf of the wall cabinet of what I call my baking center.

27 comments:

Joanne Young said...

Thank you for the gluten free alternative you gave me!
I agree just a dusting of powdered sugar can be enough with ginger bread.:)

Cranberry Morning said...

There must be a way to make this GF. And it looks marvelous, Jean!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Joanne. Let me know how it turns out for you.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Judy, thanks! Yes, for GF, just use: 1 cup sorghum flour, 3/4 cup potato starch, 3/4 cup tapioca flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum.

Melissa AuClair said...

Jean,too funny. I posted my recipe for my blog and then went to check my email...to see you too have posted a fabulous gingerbread cake recipe. I'm going to have to try yours- love the spice combination! Not only does this taste better the next day, it is so easy to bring to parties. No mess! Everyone loves it!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Melissa, that IS funny - great minds and all that! I do love Mrs. Joy, but I think her recipe is a little sweeter/stickier than mine. I'm dashing out just now, but will read your post in full and comment when I get back!

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the recipe! One favorite to make this time of year is my grandmother's molasses sugar cookies. It's a family tradition! :)

Bernideen said...

Jean:
This looks delicious and you are right - the thumbnail picture isn't there. I can go delete this and you will need to come back and do it again!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Karen, I just love family traditions! Wouldn't our grandmothers be pleased to see us carrying them on!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Bernideen, thanks! I will definitely go back and redo that.

Bernideen said...

Perfectly yummy!

Jenn S said...

My grandma used to make gingerbread cake... it's so perfect and delicious just by itself and I very rarely say that about cakes!!

I too have one of those in cabinet spice racks.. it's been one of my favorite kitchen items for a while now!!

Angie Schneider said...

I adore spiced baked goods...somehow, haven't managed to bake a gingerbread cake this year yet..yours looks delicious, Jean.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Jenn, how cool! I don't know anyone else who has that spice rack. If you make my recipe, do let me know how it turns out for you.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Angie, thanks! Baking spicy things makes the whole house smell wonderful, doesn't it!

Dina said...

your gingerbread looks wonderful!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Dina!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Help, help! Someone said “sticky…cloyingly sweet…lemon sauce,” and it pushed all my buttons. I feel like Homer Simpson lusting after a donut. And then said person wrote about chewy molasses ginger cookies! Is there a lifeguard on duty? I’m about to drown in my own juices. Well, all that said, there’s nothing wrong in my universe with your more sedate recipe. No, nothing wrong, indeed. A good warm-up for my crass, unappeasable taste buds. Moreover, there is a moral probity in your holiday treats that speaks of kindness and giving as opposed to insatiable appetites. Eye candy, so to speak. Funny how you can enjoy the look of edibles as much as the taste all the more on festive days. Bake on, Jeani, and thanks for the word pictures of your goodies-in-progress.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

No one paints a word picture quite like you do, Sully! I'd love to see you sit down and chat with Homer Simpson. Hey, maybe you can be a special guest on the show! Tune in next week for a family story.

Charles said...

Well hold on now... "always" tastes better the next day? I'm not sure about that... mainly because I can never just sit and "watch" a cake for 24 hours. It's too torturous for me. It's there... it's calling my name!

You can't beat a good gingerbread cake though. My mother used to make a good one too... haven't had hers in years!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Charles, I know what you mean. Some days when you want cake, you want it right now!

Unknown said...

Tis the season for gingercake! Happy holidays. GREG

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Greg! And I hope you have a happy, healthy 2014!

Grant said...

Oh dear! Lemon sauce! And Sully's rendition of how it has affected him, has my own mouth salivating at the word picture he and your own good self painted on the palate of my 5 senses! Dang! Now I want both that beautiful cake and the lemon sauce to go with it. Hmmmm, might be time to get into the kitchen and get creative! Only thing is, we've just put some pineapple coconut steamed puddings into the oven! Oh, there's so many delicious repasts to enjoy, isn't there!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Ooh yes there are, Grant! Now you've got me craving a lovely steamed pudding!

Christine said...

I am so excited! We lived in Bermuda our first year of marriage (almost 20 years ago), and there was a restaurant there which had the BEST gingerbread cake. (I had never even heard of gingerbread cake before.) I tried making some once we moved back to the states, but have never found one that tastes anything like it. When you said this wasn't too sweet, you had me hooked. That's what I liked about the one in Bermuda. I can't wait to try this! Thank you, thank you!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Christine, thank you so much! I do hope this will be a gingerbread that lives up to your memories of Bermuda. Do let me know how it turns out for you.

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