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Archive for January 17th, 2010

Sometimes I just get an urge to make gingerbread.  I love the simplicity of it, the rich, spicy flavors, the moist cake accompanied by a little bit of vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream.  Just writing about it makes me hungry.

The other day the urge came over me.  I began my usual cookbook scan and found several recipes that sounded good.  After a few false starts (I didn’t have the exact pan called for in one recipe, I wasn’t sure if I wanted chocolate chunks in my cake) I settled on a recipe I found in Baking with Julia.

Of course, I still had to make some adjustments.  First, because I only had 1 cup of molasses (instead of the two cups called for in the recipe), I decided to substitute 1 cup of maple syrup.  I also decided to add some chopped crystallized ginger for texture and extra ginger flavor.

And then there was the glaze.  Some of the other gingerbread recipes called for glaze, Julia’s recipe didn’t.  I felt like something a little more festive, so I made a simple chocolate glaze inspired by a recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking:  From my Home to Yours.

Gingerbread Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
(modified from the recipe for Gingerbread Baby Cakes in Baking with Julia)

For the cake
2 cups unbleached flour
¼ cup instant espresso powder
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbs ground ginger
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ½ tbs peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup unsulphured molasses
1 cup maple syrup
¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger

melted butter for greasing the pan

For the glaze
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbs butter
3 tbs powdered sugar

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 F.  Thoroughly butter and flour a 10 inch round cake pan.

Make the cake
Whisk together the flour, espresso powder, cocoa powder, ground ginger, baking powder, salt and black pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

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 (take your time with this, 4 – 5 minutes is about right).  Scrape the sides of the bowl frequently to make sure everything gets mixed well.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  It’s OK if the mixture looks curdled, it will smooth out as you continue to mix.

Beat in the fresh ginger and add the molasses and maple syrup, mixing on medium speed until smooth (1-2 minutes).

With a rubber spatula fold in the dry ingredients and the chopped crystallized ginger, mixing only until they are incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55 minutes until the top is springy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack for about ten minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pan.

Make the glaze
Put the chopped chocolate into a heat proof glass bowl and microwave a to melt.  The best way to do this is to use short bursts of power, stirring in between.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate.

Add the butter to the warm melted chocolate and stir until it melts completely.

Sift the powered sugar over the chocolate mixture and stir to mix.

Glaze the cake
Pour all of the glaze (it should be thick) into the center of the still slightly warm cake and carefully spread it to the edges of the cake.  I don’t frost the sides, but you can if you’d like.


Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or on its own.  It’s even better the next day (it will keep, covered, for about three days).

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