There are many occasions in my baking life when I’ve pulled from the oven, a cake only a baker could love. It is usually something dull and unrelentingly brown all over. Something that makes me feel slightly crestfallen because only brownies and celebrities on private yachts are permitted to be this brown.
When faced with such a cake, it is hard to resist the temptation to add a bit of glamour to it. Enter three tiers of chocolate ganache and artfully scattered silver nonpareils or that classic dribble of lemon icing.
But in the case of this gingerbread, simple is beautiful and even the tiniest dusting of icing sugar over its dimpled crust should be rejected. For all those times when a cup of tea and nothing overly sugary is called for, this cake is just the ticket with its gentle warmth and spices that form a slow release flavour dance on your tongue.
Brown it seems, may just be the new black.
Gingerbread cake :
(based on a recipe from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)
1 1/4 cups wholemeal flour
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
56g (2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or pumpkin puree)
1/4 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses (or treacle)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
Preheat the oven to 175’C (350F).
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, stirring gently with a whisk to ensure the spices are well mixed.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, yogurt, brown sugar, apple sauce, molasses, egg and grated ginger. Add this to the dry ingredients and fold to combine. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9-inch round cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Tags: cake, gingerbread, Kim Boyce, spices, teacake
(Yellow peach upside-down gingerbread)
Summer is such a bitch. In exchange for the chance to dive into a big bowl of stone fruit and berries, you have to endure not only juice but copious amount of sweat dribbling down your chin. For the perfect weather in which to prove bread dough, you have the less-than-desirable climate to be turning on any oven. For the joy of ice-cream, the pain of it melting too quickly.
Over the past week, it has been a great pleasure to step into the kitchen each morning because of the lingering scent of yellow peaches ripening on the counter top. I deliberately bought too many peaches so that I would force myself to do a bit more than just eat them. But first, I ate one. Then I tried pickling the less ripe ones in rice wine vinegar and chilli, to slip into cheese and ham sandwiches. This was not deemed a complete success by the boy, so I ate a few more peaches. Then I saw David Lebovitz’s recipe for a nectarine and raspberry upside-down gingerbread, and that sealed the fate of a third of my stash.
This recipe has so many things going for it. It is exactly how I like my gingerbread – soft, moist and spicy, with the added bonus of having a caramel-slicked layer of peach slices on top. Less sunburn, more golden-hued cakes please.
Oh and if you want to argue the ridiculousness of baking in the Summer, well, all I can say is that it’s a bitch isn’t it, and I now have gingerbread, while you don’t.
(The recipe for this delicious gingerbread is from this book.)
Tags: brown sugar, cinnamon, David Lebovitz, gingerbread, peach
(Steve the StormTrooper comes home for the Christmas holidays)
The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
After seeing quite a few amazing DB gingerbread houses recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that mine actually looks rather spare. Lucky I had Steve the Stormtrooper to pimp my house a little. Darth would’ve joined the party too, but he happened to be overseas at the time (true story).
When Anna first told me what she had picked for this month’s challenge, I thought I could approach it in one of two ways – either go the whole hog and decorate it with every single bit of candy possible, or play the minimalist card, and make it plain and simple. Plain and simple won.
This is my second time ever, attempting a gingerbread house. The first was a good many years ago when royal icing was not my friend, and a collapsed house led me to swear off ever making them again. (Hence the beauty of being a member of the DB group, where challenges can often take you outside of your comfort zone.)
As stated in the forums, I chose to use a Scandinavian recipe from a book I love by Beatrice Ojakangas. Although her recipe for the dough isn’t very sweet and lacks the moisture of typical gingerbread recipes, I believe it’s a good recipe for this sort of thing where sturdiness is important, and less sweetness means you don’t overdose on sugar once you consume the gingerbread combined with the royal icing and candy decorations. I did however confuse quite a few people with my conversions for the flour content of the recipe, and for that I truly apologise!
Still I hope everyone managed to have as much fun as possible while attempting this challenge, and thank you again Anna, for allowing me to be your co-host. 🙂
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year everyone!
(Gingerbread panels, ready for assemblage. All the stray bits you see, got assembled straight into my mouth!)
Tags: cinnamon, Daring Bakers, gingerbread