Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas to all! For all the stress of the holidays, it is still a magical time of year. At it’s best, Christmas is a celebration of hospitality and generosity. While we hope it is never a necessity for anyone, it is good to have an annual reminder that giving to others (or baking, or cooking, or mixing a cocktail) is its own reward. We wish you peace.
While Christmas does have deeper meaning, we also enjoy the food and drink. We already shared some Christmas cocktails (and remember there are twelve days of Christmas to work with), but we also want to share our favorite dessert, gingerbread. We enjoy gingerbread any way we can get it, in cookies, sheet cakes or this beautiful ring cake. We love the deep spicy flavor of gingerbread and the smell says “holidays” to just about everyone. The funny thing, though, is that we think that you could just as easily call it “molassesbread”. This recipe features a big splash (does molasses splash?) of molasses and oatmeal stout beer. When combined with a full slate of holiday spices, the funky molasses and roasted maltiness of the stout make for one seriously moist and flavorful cake. Once you have this gingerbread, it’s hard to go back.
The recipe comes from the Gramercy Tavern in New York City and was published in 2008 by Smitten Kitchen. We are lucky enough to have dined a few times at the Gramercy Tavern and it is simply one of our favorite restaurants anywhere in the world. As for Smitten Kitchen, it is one of the best food blogs out there (great cookbook, too). And we get to visit Smitten Kitchen any time we want, we don’t even have to be in New York. In any event, when one of your favorite blogs posts a recipe from one of your favorite restaurants, the dish is likely to be good. We made this recipe for the first time a few years ago, now we can’t wait for Carolyn to make it as a Christmas treat. Oh, and did we mention you can make French toast with this gingerbread? (And if there is any left over, you should.)
Making this gingerbread is, happily, pretty standard baking. (We will note this is another very moist cake that uses oil, rather than butter, hmmmm…) The only real trick here, and it is a BIG deal, is to thoroughly and completely butter and flour the bundt or loaf pan. And we mean completely. If you miss a spot, the cake will stick. Take your time and if you see even a tiny open spot, you need to fix it. This won’t take long, but no one likes a cake with chunks missing, even if it is one of the best tasting cakes they have ever had. And we are betting this will be one of the best cakes you’ve ever had. Merry Christmas from all of us here at Putney Farm!
(Adapted from Gramercy Tavern and Smitten Kitchen)
Notes Before You Start:
- You can use a bundt-style pan, a ring pan or use loaf pans for the cake.
- The cake is better the second day and should keep a few days. It is very good toasted or made into French toast.
What You Get: Very moist, spicy and funky gingerbread. If you like molasses, you will love this cake.
What You Need: No special equipment required.
How Long? About 90 minutes with 30 minutes active time. With planning, an anytime dish.
- 1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
- 1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and 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
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously butter a bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess. Be sure to completely coat the inside of the pan, even the tough corners.
- Over medium heat, bring the stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then the molasses mixture. Add the wet mixture to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the bundt pan and rap the pan sharply on counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake in the middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking, about 50 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a rack and cool completely.
- Serve the cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream or ice cream.
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