This is one of my favorite cakes to make and not just during this time of year. We eat gingerbread all year round because it’s good and shouldn’t just be limited to just one month out of the year.
This one is dark and spicy with bursts of candied ginger throughout.
But, the thing that makes this gingerbread extra special is the lemon glaze. The zinginess of the lemon goes so well with the spicy mellowness of the cake. You want to be sure that your icing is fairly thick or else most of it will just fall off. This happened to me the first time and I had to redo it, which is why the cake pictured looks like it has two icings.
The cake tastes better if it is made a day ahead of time. I made this cake for an event tonight, so I don’t have any pictures of it cut right now, but if there are any leftovers I will add a photo or two tomorrow.
That’s all for now. Sorry to be so short today, but it’s been a busy few days and I need a little lie down before going out tonight.
Be sure to leave me a comment for another entry into the Christmas treat box giveaway. I think it is mostly packed up now and just waiting for the winner’s address. I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day! I would love to hear about your favorite Christmas tradition.
Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Icing
adapted from the Standard Baking Co., Portland ME
2 3/4 cups (13.25 ounces) all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) or 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (4.5 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup mild molasses
1 1/3 cups cold water
1/4 cup (2 ounces) finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 3/4 cup (5 ounces) powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan or spray with Baker’s Joy. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour and spices.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the large eggs and beat to blend. Beat in the light molasses. It will look grainy.
Add half of the dry ingredients and beat until blended. Beat in half of the water. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat until blended. Add the remaining water and mix until mostly incorporated.
Stop the mixer, give the bowl a good scraping down. Then, add the chopped crystallized ginger and beat the mixture again on medium speed for at least a minute.
Transfer the batter to your bundt pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the glaze:
Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to get a thick icing that drops in mounds (you don’t want it too runny or it will just run right off–I did this the first time).
With the cake still on a rack, pour the icing evenly over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides.
It’s fall! The leaves are turning and that means it is also apple season. Little did we know when we moved here last year that we would be in the middle of apple country. There are many apple orchards within a 15 minute drive of our house and if you expand that radius, the number of orchards just keeps multiplying. We are not strangers to pick your own apples, having gone every year for almost 20 years now. However, we’ve never been this spoilt for choice for apple orchards. As a result, the boys and I are on an unofficial mission to visit as many apple farms as we can so we can better assess our favorite.
So far, we’ve gone to two.
Ok, that’s not exactly fulfilling the mission, but, unfortunately, we also have to get some work done around here sometimes. Sigh.
Anyway, the benefit to going more frequently is that we do not feel the need to pick a whole season’s apples all in one go. So, we have been picking one basket at a time. This means that our apples are always fresh! What a bonus!
There is nothing like eating a fresh picked apple. They are crisp and juicy and scrumptious. We easily ate through over half of our first basket before I even started thinking about baking anything.
And when I started baking, I naturally turned to cake first.
Now, apple cake and I have a rocky relationship. I love the idea of apple cake, but often do not like the reality of apple cake. It can often be very moist, almost soggy, and they have notoriously long bake times, which can make them hard to judge doneness. They are also often really yummy warm and eaten the day they are baked, but as the days go by, they get soggier and wetter.
That soggy cake texture has never been appealing to me. I wanted a cake that was moist, but able to hold up for a few days without becoming pasty. And I also wanted a cake that would take a fair amount of apples. After all, at this time of year, I am usually trying to use up as many apples as possible before they go bad on the counter. I didn’t want to make a cake that would just use one apple.
After several tries, I think I finally have a cake recipe that accomplishes all those things. And it has booze in it as well.
Plus, the recipe is pretty easy; no mixer necessary. The hardest part is chopping up the apples. And, I have included a little bit of whole wheat, so it’s also good for you!
It is especially good with salted caramel slathered on top of it.
What’s not to like?
Simple Boozy Apple Cake
makes one 9 inch square cake
You can use any kind of booze in this cake. I tried both Smoked Maple Bourbon and a lighter apple Liquor that I had. Both were good, though the apple Liquor one was a much lower proof, which made it almost imperceptible in the finished cake. If you don’t want to use booze, you can also use the same amount of orange juice or apple juice/cider. I also topped my cakes with a glaze of Smoked Maple Bourbon Caramel sauce. Very yummy and I highly recommend this addition. You can find the recipe here. The caramel sauce can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the fridge.
4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and diced, about 16-18 ounces after dicing
1/4 cup (2 ounces) bourbon, rum, hard cider, or apple liquor
1 Tablespoon (1/2 ounce) lemon juice
1 and 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (option, but very good)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, melted and cooled
Butter and flour a nine inch square cake pan or spray with a nonstick spray with flour added.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the apples, booze, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, lemon zest, and butter until slightly lighter in color. Whisk in the eggs until well combined and light. This will take about a minute.
Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. It will be very dry. Do not try to get all the flour mixed in. There should still be a few spots of flour when you stop (see photos above).
Add the apples and all the liquid in the bowl to the batter. Stir with the spatula until the batter smoothes out. Scrape into your prepared pan and level it with your spatula.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake will be golden brown and a toothpick or tester should come out clean.
Let cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before glazing with caramel sauce and eating. The cake will keep for up to three days at room temperature, covered. It will get moister as the days pass, but should not get soggy. Enjoy!
The idea for this week’s cake came from two giant jars of Nutella that have been sitting in my pantry for a little while. We love Nutella. Well, maybe not all of us. The same person who doesn’t love icing on cake also is fairly ambivalent about Nutella. The rest of us love it. I have to say, though, that we have trouble eating through an entire jar, especially the super sized ones from Costco. This is partly because of my conscience. Unless I am spreading it on some whole grain or multigrain bread, I have a hard time serving it for breakfast or lunch. However, it is perfect for dessert, which is what I am talking about today.
My goal for this cake was threefold. First, I wanted the Nutella to be a star, but I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by it, so I thought that pairing it with a classic vanilla pound cake would be just right.
Secondly, I wanted it to be pretty. Since I was pairing it with vanilla, a swirly look would be nice. Your results may vary, but I was pretty happy with the results.
And lastly, but really most importantly, I wanted it to be easy. This one is made easy by the fact that everything is just stirred together. There is no creaming of butter and sugar and adding things in little increments. Just, dump and stir, or more accurately, whisk.
Some things will need to be melted (butter and Nutella) and it does kind of make a mess in the kitchen. I am usually a pretty tidy person in the kitchen because I hate to clean any more than I have to, but for some reason, throw Nutella into the mix and chaos comes with it.
There was Nutella on my clothes, in my hair, all over the counter, and my hands. It’a all worth it in the end, but just be aware and keep a lookout!
These three requirements aside, this recipe would be not be here if it also did not pass another test: the taste test.
The boys approved and all the adults who helped me test it also approved. This is not a light and fluffy cake. It is dense, like a pound cake should be, but full of vanilla buttery flavor. The Nutella portions are a little moister and melt ever so slightly in your mouth. To help intensify the Nutella flavor, I glazed the cake with a simple Nutella glaze made with melted Nutella and milk.
If you don’t want to make a whole bundt cake, the recipe can be halved and baked in a standard 8.5 by 4.5 inch loaf pan or make the whole recipe and split it between two loaf pans. That way, you can have one now and freeze one for later.
Vanilla Nutella Swirl Cake
makes 1 large bundt cake or two loaf cakes
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream at room temperature
6 large eggs at room temperature
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup (11 ounces) Nutella
1/4 cup (2.75 ounces) Nutella
2 Tablespoons whole milk
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large bundt pan with a capacity of at least 12 cups. A flour spray such as Baker’s Joy will work here as well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla until a foamy. Add the cream and whisk until combined.
- Whisk the flour into the egg mixture. Then, carefully, so that the butter does not splash everywhere, whisk in the melted butter.
- In another medium, microwavable bowl, heat the Nutella in the microwave for about 30 seconds. You don’t want it to be super hot, just warm enough to loosen it up a bit. This will help you incorporate the cake better more easily.
- Add 2 cups of the vanilla batter to the Nutella and whisk until smooth and combined.
- Now, you are going to layer your cake batter in the pan. Spoon half of the vanilla batter into the cake pan, followed by half of the Nutella batter. Then, spoon over the remainder of vanilla batter followed by the rest of the Nutella batter. Swirl gently by passing a butter knife through the batter once or twice.
- Bake 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then, unmold over a rack to cool completely.
- When the cake is cool, make the glaze. Heat the Nutella and milk together in a microwave for about 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth and loose. If it is stiff, keep heating it in the microwave for 15 second intervals until you get a pourable glaze. Pour the glaze evenly over the top of the cake and use a knife to spread it so that it gently runs over the sides of the cake. As it cools, the glaze will set into a matte finish.
- Slice and enjoy! Serves anywhere between 12-20 people, depending on the size of your slices.
This week’s cake of the week holds very special memories for me. I first made this cake over ten years ago when I was expecting my second child. It was the middle of summer. It was hot and I was 7 and a half months pregnant. I was already uncomfortable and I still had almost two months left before out little bundle of joy was expected to enter the world. We had gone cherry picking and had some fresh cherries hanging around, so I made this cake. I credit this cake for getting me through one week of that uncomfortable time. My husband doesn’t remember the cake at all. That could be because I ate practically the whole thing by myself.
Anyway, flash forward 10 and a half years later and we are in the middle of winter when fresh cherries are nowhere to be found. I had a hankering for this cake, though (and no, there are no buns in the oven this time!), so I did some tweaking and the result is just as good if not better than my memory of the cake.
To make this cake in winter, you will need to find jarred or canned sour cherries in light syrup. I had a jar of Morello cherries that I got from Trader Joe’s just before Christmas. However, when I went last week, there were no cherries to be found. I did see some at the grocery store that were tinned, though. Just be sure you are buying cherries in syrup and not cherry pie filling. That won’t work here. For this recipe, you’ll need 12 ounces of drained cherries and 1/2 cup of the juice. The cherries from one 24.7 ounce jar from TJ’s measured two heaping cups of cherries.
You may find that if you have to use canned cherries that you will have some left over. They are great in smoothies. In fact, we kept the leftover syrup in the jar and drank it with soda water to make homemade cherry soda. Do not be tempted to use more cherries in the recipe, though. It will make the cake too wet and soggy.
I baked this on a snowy day. We ate it warm and it was light and fluffy and heavenly. It almost melted in our mouths. After it cools to room temperature, it starts to get more fudgey, but it is still moist and delicious. The cake keeps well for up to four days at room temperature if you can make it last that long. We had it for breakfast and dessert.
It was fabulous and the best part is that you can bake it any time of year you want. Though I did not do it, I think this cake would also be wonderful cut into heart shaped pieces and served for Valentine’s Day. The baker gets to eat all the offcuts:) To make it even more decadent, serve with a mug of Mexican Hot Chocolate.
CHOCOLATE CHERRY ALMOND CAKE
(adapted from Gourmet, July 2003)
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup (2 1/4 oounces) unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup reserved cherry juice from the cherries below
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) almond flour (this is optional, but nice if you have it)
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
12 ounces (a little over two cups) drained sour cherries from a 24.7 jar (keep the juice! You will need it)
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Confectioner’s sugar for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 13 by 9 inch baking pan, preferably metal.
- Whisk the boiling water and cocoa powder in a bowl until smooth. Then, whisk in the 1/2 cup of cherry juice, the vanilla extract, and the almond extract. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and almond flour (if using).
- In a bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very light, at least 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. The mixture might be a little curdled, but should also be fairly light and fluffy.
- Stir in the chocolate chips, dried cherries, and drained cherries until evenly distributed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top of the batter.
- Bake 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Test carefully in several places! The cherries can trap pockets of unbaked batter. Let cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving with an optional dusting of confectioner’s sugar. Makes 16-20 servings.
Last week, I made some marmalade. Making marmalade is one of my favorite things to do in the winter. Citrus is at its peak at this time of the year and the fruits just brighten up these cold, darkish days. As a bonus, making marmalade fills the house with a delightful scent and turns something we would normally throw away (citrus peels) into something deliciously edible.
For my batch, I used this recipe from Food52 as my guide. I had 7 navel oranges, 3 lemons, and 2 limes.
After filling three pint jars, I had about a cup and a half leftover to store in the fridge. Marmalade never goes to waste in our house, but I had a hankering for cake; an orange marmalade cake.
The recipe I found used all whole wheat flour, which I replaced partly with regular all purpose flour. It still has the hearty taste of whole wheat, but is not overpowering or overly gritty. Also, when the cake came out of the oven, it looked a little plain, so I dressed it up a bit with a marmalade glaze, which also helped to boost the citrus flavor of the cake.
I had a bit of a hard time thinking of a title for this cake. It’s got apple, but not a lot of it and adding whole wheat to the title made it seem really long with the orange marmalade. Just think of this as a great snacking cake. The whole wheat and the apple together make for a healthy feeling cake, so we ate this cake for breakfast and for snacks. It was not too sweet and great with a cup of tea or coffee, which I guess is kind of the theme for a lot of my cakes lately.
Orange Marmalade Cake
You will need a 9 inch springform pan, sprayed with oil
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar
6 Tablespoons orange marmalade
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (7.5ounces) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 Tablespoons orange marmalade
1 Tablespoon water
2/3 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Whisk together in a medium bowl, all the dry ingredients: flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. In my cold kitchen, this took over five minutes, so be patient. Add the orange marmalade and mix until combined.
- Add the eggs to the butter one at a time, mixing and scraping the bowl between each addition. It will look curdled at times, but just keep mixing on medium speed until it smooths out.
- Add the flour mixture to the batter and mix just until there are no dry bits. Add in the apples and raisins and mix just until evenly distributed.
- Scrape into your pan and level the batter. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the cake is golden brown.
- When the cake is almost finished, microwave the marmalade and water for the glaze in a medium bowl until warm. Stir until the marmalade is melted and then whisk in the powdered sugar. It should be fairly runny, but not fluid.
- Remove the cake from the oven and pour the glaze over top, spreading it so that it covers the entire top. If it dribbles over the side of cake, that’s ok. It will get absorbed by the cake. Let cake cool in the pan for ten minutes. Then, remove the sides and cool completely before serving.