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Day 11: Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Icing

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

Lemon Glaze

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.

 

 

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Day 5: 12 Steps to Gingerbread Success + a Cake Recipe

1. Collect fun and appropriate cookie cutters. This new set that I got from the boys for my birthday is my new favorite.

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I have also been on a wee little cookie cutter shopping spree lately. For some reason, I just cannot seem to stop myself from buying them.

2. Make all the dough in one go. This week, I made 20 pounds of gingerbread dough. Getting some little people to help is a good idea here, but keep an eye on them. They have a tendency to do unexpected things, like lick their fingers! For gingerbread that is intended for building, I use this recipe. I find it a bit dry for eating, though, so I make different recipe for eating. This changes from year to year.

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3. Roll the dough between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper. I use wax because it is cheaper, but you must take care with it later (see step 6). Yes, I am telling you to roll out your dough while it is soft. It is much easier this way, trust me. I spent a few years rolling out refrigerated dough and my arms and wrists have never forgiven me. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick for nice sturdy cookies for building, or thinner if they are for eating.

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4. Stack your sheets of gingerbread on a baking pan and freeze (see photo above). You can do steps 1-4 several weeks in advance.

5. Remove dough from freezer and let stand while the oven preheats. You do not want the dough to thaw; you just want to take the edge off of the chill so that you don’t hurt yourself trying to cut it. The sheets might have stuck together a little. Don’t worry. Just slide your hand gently between the layers and they should come apart pretty easily.

6. Using one sheet of gingerbread at a time, peel off the paper from one side carefully. Here is where parchment is better. Parchment has never torn on me, but wax paper occasionally does when the dough is super cold. To remedy this, just rub your hands over the paper to warm it up a bit before peeling. After the first sheet is peeled, lay it back on top and, while grasping both sheets with hands on opposite sides, carefully flip the whole thing over to its other side. Don’t skip the flip! it will make removing your cookies much easier if both sides of the paper have been peeled off. You could dispense with the paper and cut directly on your counter, but I prefer to keep things cleaner and cut on the paper. Carefully peel the other sheet of paper off the dough.

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7. Cut your gingerbread! This is where the kids can come back into the action.

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8. Bake. For building, I like to make sure my dough gets really dry. I bake it on convection mode at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. If I am baking for eating, I bake it for 8-10. Look at my new four tier baking pan holder. It’s fabulous for saving counter space!

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9. Set aside the scraps in a bowl and work through all the rest of your frozen dough. The scraps will soften. When you are all done baking, they should be fairly soft and you can re-roll them. At this point, I stick them back into the freezer and resume baking another day, or, if I am in a hurry, I wait an hour and repeat steps 4-8.

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10. Get some friends together. Gingerbread is always more fun with friends, especially if someone else is bringing the frosting and candy for decorating.

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11. Decorate. Expect the unexpected here; pieces break, but icing is a wonderful glue.

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12. Eat or Admire.

Are cookies not your thing? I must say, after going through 20 pounds of gingerbread, sometimes the last thing I want is a cookie. But, cake? Yes please! Especially if it is this Chocolate Swirl Gingerbread Cake. This is my favorite gingerbread cake. I have been known to sit on the floor in the kitchen and just eat the batter. Yes. It is That. Good.

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Chocolate Marbled Gingerbread
adapted from Essence of Chocolate

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup mild unsulphured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces all purpose flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a Pinch each of ground cloves, ground black pepper, and ground cayenne pepper
1 cup, packed (7ounces) brown sugar
1 large egg
4 3/4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare either a 13 by 9 inch pan or two 8 or 9 inch round pans by spraying with Baker’s Joy or another spray with flour in it. I used one 8 inch and one 9 inch pan.

Bring water to a boil in a small pot or large 4 cup measuring cup in the microwave. Stir in the molasses and baking soda. Let cool until lukewarm.

Sift all dry ingredients into a medium bowl.

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and mix for another minute, scraping the bowl as you go along. While mixing on low, add the flour and molasses mixture alternately. If it is still lumpy, finish mixing with a large whisk. This batter is really runny.

Pour 2/3 of the batter into your prepared pan, dividing if necessary. Whisk the melted chocolate into the remaining third in your mixing bowl. Add the chocolate batter to the pans by dropping 5-6 large pools of chocolate batter evenly spaced into the pan(s). Draw a skewer or knife through the batter a couple of times to make it pretty.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans on racks. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Not My Cake

I love gingerbread. I was looking forward to making this week’s Baby Gingerbread cakes. It promised to be a good one with lots of ginger, a little cocoa, some coffee, and lots of molasses.

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Wow. The amount of molasses was staggering. 2 cups. Oh, well, I like molasses and I was using the mild stuff, so I thought it would be ok.

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But, I was wrong. Firstly, there was so much molasses that the batter never really smoothed out.

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I baked the large version, the one in a ten inch pan because I was taking it to a meeting, and I don’t much like fussing with individual sized portions most of the time. I even sprinkled a little extra candied ginger on top before baking it.

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It did not help, really. Even though I baked it for 70 minutes and the tester came out fine, the middle was underdone; more like molasses with a little ginger. Actually, I couldn’t even taste the ginger. After one bite, I proclaimed it a deep, dark, disaster. Only one person liked it. She said it was a distinctly new england flavor. Well, I have never lived in new england, so I don’t have any experience with that. If this sounds like something you would like, here’s the recipe. All I have to say is that I am really glad it wasn’t my birthday cake.

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My birthday cake, Maple Walnut Pear Upside Down Cake, was exponentially better. The husband made it for me. Isn’t he the best?

Now, you know what I am going to have to do, don’t you? I am going to have to make my favorite gingerbread cake for you. Watch this space.

Bourbon Makes Everything Better

Last year (or was it two years ago?  Time goes by so fast, it’s hard to be sure), we discovered a yummy new cake at one of our favorite restaurants.  Since then, I have tracked down and tried a couple of recipes for this new favorite cake.

Pear Upside Down Gingerbread Cake.  I can’t remember which recipe I used for the cake that is pictured here.  It was either this one or one from this book.

I could talk about the soft caramelized pears and how it was a perfect counterpoint to the gingery cake.  I could talk about how the pears and cake together almost melted in your mouth.  I could also talk about how it was divine served warm.  These things are all worthy topics, but the star of the show was the bourbon whipped cream.

The whipped cream was just slightly sweet with a little kick of bourbon at the end.  The warmth of the cake caused the bourbon on the whipped cream to evaporate and stand out even more on the palate, so much so that the husband kept asking how much bourbon I had put into it.

Just one or two tablespoons, really!

But, it tasted like more and we were tempted to withhold it from the boys, but decided it really wasn’t necessary.  This whipped cream would taste good with any number of desserts: bread pudding, pumpkin pie, plain gingerbread, a rich chocolate cake, etc.  Somehow, the bourbon takes the whipped cream to a level that causes us normally civilized people to contemplate licking the plate.  Some of us may have tried this.  And if you are tempted to do the same, I won’t tell anyone.

Anyway, I think it goes without saying that on this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for bourbon (hehe!) whipped cream.   It is really easy to make.  I don’t really even need to give you an official recipe.  Just take a cup of whipping cream, whip it to soft peaks, then add a tablespoon each of sugar (brown is nice) and bourbon.  Whisk these additions in manually and serve with or without a dessert!   Consider adding this to your holiday dessert table.  I know it will be on mine.