filling the empty nest with food
I’ve had a craving for gingerbread for years. Not the cookies, but the cake. And I finally got around to baking a pan of the sticky, gingery cake tonight. Years, you say! What took you so long? Well, I’ve learned the hard way that if I bake something I crave, my family might not eat it, and being that I have no will power whatsoever when it comes to sweets, I’ll end up eating the whole thing myself. Once the goodies are baked and staring me in the eye, that is. On the other hand, I have lots of willpower when it comes to refraining from doing the baking.
I wasn’t sure my family would like a big square of warm gingerbread topped with a bit of hot applesauce. How could they refuse, I thought. Well, you never know what kids might like, or refuse to eat.
I loved rice pudding with raisins when I was a kid, yet my children wouldn’t give it the time of day. So, I learned the hard way not to keep cooking things for them in the hopes that they’d grow to like them. I couldn’t bear to throw out something I’d put together with such anticipation in the hope that my children would share my fondness for one of my favorite snacks. Alas, they didn’t. I ate many a bowl of rice pudding back in the day–bowl after bowl after bowl, until I finally got into my head that nobody in the house liked it but me. That was a sad day. But a lesson learned.
So, it took me a long time to act on my craving for gingerbread. After looking through several recipes to find the one that would fit the taste in my mind, I settled on the Gramercy Tavern’s recipe, which I found on Epicurious. Its surprise ingredient is a cup of Guinness and that seemed right somehow. A perfect amount for the cake, too, as it left me another cup to sip as I put together the gingerbread. Needless to say, the cake was worth the wait, if you can keep your hands off for the 5 minutes it takes to cool before you cut into it. I couldn’t.
It was sticky, gingery, sweet, and tasted perfect topped with that warmed applesauce. And if I have to eat the whole pan myself? Well, sometimes I like learning lessons the hard way.
Try it for yourself. It’s an easy recipe to make. You may need to let it bake 5 or 10 minutes longer than the recipe calls for. Just keep an eye on it towards the end of the baking time.
Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread
Special equipment: a 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan
Accompaniment: unsweetened whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.
Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.