Sunday, October 16, 2011

Modestly speaking, this gingerbread is awesome

I'm a little OD'd on gingerbread myself, having made EIGHT DOUBLE recipes for the Concert in the Clearing Reception I catered last night, but I'm willing to document so others can go forth, buy some Guinness, and start thinking about the holidays (gasp). The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated - although I don't know which issue. Hence the perfection as it was studied, researched, and thoroughly tested. One of the problems solved was the tendency of gingerbread to collapse in the middle when baking, and this one really doesn't. Be sure and follow directions exactly about stiring in the flour though because interestingly, that's the trick. That, probably plus the exact combo of Guinness, molasses and soda. Also, don't be tempted to use butter instead of vegetable oil.  It's there for a reason. Otherwise, I experimented successfully with using up to half whole wheat flour, ditto cornmeal and using both dark brown sugar and some rather potent molasses. All of those variations worked. Freezes well also. Enjoy.

Classic Gingerbread Cake
NOTE: This cake packs potent yet well balanced, fragrant, spicy heat. If you are particularly sensitive to spice, you can decrease the amount of dried ginger to 1tablespoon.

3/4    cup stout
1/2    teaspoon baking soda
2/3    cup mild molasses
3/4    cup packed light brown sugar
1/4    cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pan
2       tablespoons ground ginger
1/2    teaspoon baking powder
1/2    teaspoon table salt
1/4    teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4    teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2       large eggs
1/3    cup vegetable oil
1       tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 8-inch square baking pan.
2. Bring stout to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will foam vigorously). When foaming subsides, stil in molasses, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until dissolved; set mixture aside. Whisk flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper together in large bowl; set aside.
3. Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Whisk in eggs, oil, ang grated ginger until combined. Whisk wet mixture into flour mixture in thirds; stirring vigorously until completely smooth after each addition.
4.  Transfer batter to prepared pan and gently tap pan against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any air bubbles. Bake until top of cake is just firm to touch and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan about 1 1/2 hours. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Serve plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 2 days.

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