My brother requests gingerbread in one form or another each year for his birthday. He says, “I mostly like the gingerbread over the icing and candy”. Creativity is also requested. He’s seen gingerbread houses and gingerbread nativity scenes. He also got a kick out of an advertisement for Ninja-bread cut-out cookies.
I’m catching up on the past few year’s Cook’s Illustrated magazines, and so I was pleased to see a recipe for “old fashioned gingerbread” listed on the front of one of the covers. The writer said that he went to one of those historical villages to look for hints to help him develop a perfect recipe. Perfect it would be for our family, since my brother has connections with that sort of thing (he participates in Civil War reenactment from time to time).
Art is another thing that he has ties to. He is an artist as well as one who appreciates others’ work. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have inherited his sculpting talent.
My hedgehog didn’t turn out as pretty as the one on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
The shape of the cake didn’t bother me so much as the texture and flavor (Cook’s Illustrated isn’t so high on my list of esteemed recipe sources right now). So, it was back to digital resources. Epicurious had a similar recipe, but the comments claimed that it was moist and that even grade-school children liked the flavor.
You are encouraged to make gingerbread ahead of time to gives the flavors a chance to meld, so I pulled out all my ingredients the day before the birthday party.
Although I was careful to read the recipe through before beginning to measure, mix, whisk and pour, I was almost certain that I had left something out when the batter looked far too runny to end up a solid cake. All I could do was to shut the oven door. 50 minutes later I peeked in to see a fearfully moist-looking top, but the knife came out clean.
Below is the recipe from Epicurious.
My changes were: 1/3 of the molasses replaced with honey and orange juice, ground cloves and cardamom replaced with Penzeys Cake Spice, and the oven temperature dropped 25 degrees, because I have a small electric oven. I also bought a tub of Cool Whip instead of whipping my own cream.
Gramercy Tavern’s Gingerbread
1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting
a 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan
unsweetened whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.
Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.