12 December 2013
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?
(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.