Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread Heaven, Spice Up Your Life!

This is not a gingerbread for anyone who may be afraid of a little spice. It has beaucoup spice.  It has a deep, dark, rich flavor. It is ooey, gooey, and yes, a little bit chewy and did I mention it is delicious?  Well, it is.  I discovered this recipe a few years ago and have loved it ever since.  It was developed by a chef at the Gramercy Tavern.  I don't believe it is offered on their menu any longer, but the recipe is alive and well thanks to the internet.  This recipe has been written about so much, I hesitated to blog about it for fear of sounding redundant.  But if even one gingerbread lover reads it here and decides to give it a try, my efforts will not have been in vain.  I have no personal story about this cake, but I do have some strong words of advice.  Heed my warning and you will be rewarded.


1. When the directions say to grease and butter the pan, DO NOT SKIMP!  Got that?  When I said this recipe has been written about a lot on the internet, the topic usually involves the "sticking to the pan" problem.  This cake has brown sugar, white sugar and molasses (hence the ooey, gooey and chewy).  It was born to stick to the pan.  It is your job to defy chemistry.  I've baked this cake in a ceramic bundt pan that I've owned forever, and it never ever gave me a problem. This time I used my new anniversary edition Nordicware Bundt pan and...it stuck.  I take responsibility for the mishap.  I was a little too smug and did not grease and flour the pan heavy enough (I could get away with that in the ceramic pan).  When I went to remove it from the pan, a chunk broke off  horizontally.  I was able to patch it back together, thanks to its ooey gooey nature.  I have read that Baker's Joy works very well with this recipe when baked in the Nordic pan.  Personally, I've only tried to use Baker's Joy once and  had no luck with the stuff; the sprayer clogged, I lost patience and chucked it.   So did I scare you?  If you are weak and afraid that your gingerbread will stick to the pan, bake it in 2 loaf pans, lined with a parchment "sling". Be sure to butter and flour the the sides of the pan and bottom of the parchment.  I've read that it is fool-proof.  I personally like to live on the edge and take risks (when it comes to baking) so I'll keep making mine as a bundt.


2.  You will be instructed to mix your molasses with beer and heat it in a sauce pan.  Be sure to use at least a 2 quart sauce pan.  Yes, it is only 2 cups of liquid, but you will have to whisk in baking soda and do you know what happens when you do that?
3.  Allow the hot mixture to cool before proceeding.  Really, don't rush it.  I think this cake comes out best when the beer-molasses mixture has had time to cool. And while we are on the subject of temperature, be sure to use eggs that have warmed up to room temperature as well.


4.  Do not over-mix the batter.  Think of it as a quick bread.  This is a very thin batter, don't think you've done something wrong.
5.  Do not over-bake.  Over-baking adds to the sticking problem.


6.  Don't allow the gingerbread to cool in the pan for more than 5 minutes.  Set a timer.  It goes against everything you've learned, but trust me.  The longer it sits and cools in the pan, the more the sugars solidify and bond with the pan.  This cake has a "chewy" crust.  That's the part that wants to stick to the pan.


Did I frighten you?  I didn't mean to.  I just wanted you to bake with confidence.  Go ahead and give it a try.  It is so worth it.  
Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread
Makes 1 Bundt, serves 10
Epicurious.com  
Gourmet  February 2000
by Claudia Fleming
Gramercy Tavern  New York, NY
  • 1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness 
  • 1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • a 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
Directions: 
  1. Bring Guinness (or other stout) and molasses to a boil in a 2 or 2 1/2 quart saucepan.
  2. Remove pan from heat and whisk in baking soda, allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10-12 cup bundt pan and dust with flour.
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices into a bowl. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl (use a large mixing bowl), whisk together eggs and sugars until well blended. Then, whisk in the oil, and then finally whisk in the cooled molasses mixture. 
  6. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and whisk until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on the counter to eliminate any trapped air bubbles. 
  8. Bake in middle of oven for 50 minutes.  A cake tester or toothpick will come out with just a few moist crumbs stuck to it.
  9. Let the gingerbread cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto the rack and allow to cool completely.
  10. Serve with a dollop of cream.
This cake will make your house smell like Christmas!  If it doesn't vanish on the day you bake it, you may discover that it actually tastes better the second day.  If you ration it, it keeps well wrapped for several days. 
They will watch over and protect your gingerbread from sticking...really!

3 comments:

  1. Curious: what was wrong with the ceramic bundt pan? I've had many a good cake from that pan.

    Shockingly I've built up a pantry with everything listed, save the cardamom, Guinness and dark brown sugar. Can you sub light brown and add a smidge of extra molasses?

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  2. Melissa- the ceramic bundt pan is a little small for some recipes. I think it is 8-10 cups. The new one holds 12 cups. As for the light brown sugar, go right ahead and sub. I've done it. I wouldn't add more molasses. There's a lot of liquid in this batter. I don't think you would be able to tell if you used light or dark brown sugar, unless you did a side by side comparison.

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