Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gingerbread cakes - First, you must love molasses

We're finally home and it's good to be back except there is basically nothing fresh in our fridge. On our first night back we threw frozen peas into chili ramen and called it a night.
Tonight, however, we were in the mood for something homey. It's raining outside and there is a lot of work to catch up on so nothing better then procrastinating in the kitchen.
MC and I are in love with Dorie Greenspan so we read every Thursday's; Baking With Dorie hoping it will be something that tempts us. Last week's recipe did the trick. Gingerbread cakes. Not just the average, mild, sweet cakes you usually get, faintly tasting like ginger ...no, these babies have umph! A teaspoon of black pepper, lots of fresh ginger and espresso powder, just to name a few. The only thing I changed in the second batch was reducing some of the molasses for maple syrup.
Daniel Day Lewis' character in, There Will be Blood, would have liked these, he might have even smiled that crooked smile after consuming a small cake or two.

Note: You must love molasses, if you don't, take a pass on this cake.

Johanne Killeen's Gingerbread Baby Cakes

From, Baking with Dorie

- makes two loaves or one 10-inch cake -
2 cups all-purpose flour (Johanne uses unbleached flour)
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 ½ cups unsulphured molasses
½ cup maple syrup

1. Positon a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the insides of two tea loaf pans with a light coating of butter, dust with flour and tap out the excess. (Or use a 10-inch round cake pan.)

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, espresso powder, cocoa, ground ginger, baking powder, salt and black pepper together just to mix; reserve.

3. Put the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The butter and sugar must be beaten until they are very light and fluffy, so don't rush it—the process can take 6 to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer, 3 to 4 minutes with a heavy-duty mixer. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating on high speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute after each addition. The mixture may look curdled, but that's OK—it will smooth out as you continue to mix the batter. Beat in the fresh ginger and add the molasses and maple syrup, mixing on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth.

4. With a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

5. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and rotate the pans a couple of times to level. Bake the loaves or The 10-inch cake for take 50 to 60 minutes. Take care not to overbake the cakes; they should remain moist.

6. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen and unmold the cakes. Turn the cakes over so they cool right side up.

7. Serve the cakes warm or at room temperature with a generous dollop of lightly whipped cream and a shower of chopped candied lemon peel, if desired.

Storing: These moist cakes will keep covered at room temperature for 3 days or, wrapped airtight, can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

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