Thursday, April 23, 2009

Midnight Celebration Gingerbread

Papers were finished and gingerbread was in order, even though it was midnight. This gingerbread is the perfect post-paper celebration cake because it is easy (I mixed it in one bowl when I was exhausted) and because its dark spicy flavor, smooth crumb and gooey center are such a welcome wonder after the dry dullness of a paper. You might ask, why gingerbread? It's not Christmas. I know. But a few days ago, procrastinating, I wandered into the blog of The Wednesday Chef and saw the gingerbread cake she made. Instantly I had a desperate longing to make that cake, and I promised myself that whenever I finished writing, I would. Plus, I love ginger, in anything, at any time of year and have a weakness for gingerbread of all kinds. Unfortunately, I realized late last night that I didn't have the requisite amount of molasses, so I went in search of another gingerbread recipe.

Found: "Moosehead Gingerbread" from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts. Ms. Heatter promises at the beginning that "people [in Moosehead Lake where the recipe came from] said it was the best gingerbread they ever ate." I was sold. Still only one egg and no mustard powder, so I decided to make a half recipe and improvise a bit. Perfect.

Midnight Gingerbread
adapted from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

I've changed one minor thing--taken out the mustard powder (it called for 1/4 tsp) and added a pinch of cayenne. I can't say which is better because I've never tried it with mustard, but it sounds good. I made this in in a 6 1/2 inch square pan (an odd size I had lying around that I often use when I want to make only a little bit of something), but you can double the recipe that appears here and put the batter into an 8 or 9 inch square or round cake pan. You will probably need to bake it for a few minutes more.

1 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground finely
4 T (half stick) butter, soft enough to mash by hand
1/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c dark molasses
1 1/2 tsp (rounded) instant coffee
1/2 c boiling water

Butter and flour your pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour through black pepper). In a separate bowl, mash the butter with a spoon and mix until creamy. Add the sugar and mix. Then mix in the egg and stir well. Add molasses. Stir again. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. Then mix the dry ingredients and coffee into the wet ingredients in five additions: three for the dry ingredients and two for the coffee. Begin and end with the dry. Mix only until smooth. Pour into pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger. Do not overbake! Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then eat with a glass of cold milk.

Happy caking!

The last bite.

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