Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gingerbread Cake and Sauce in Pictures..Photos of the Recipe at Work

The previous post told first of this attempt to bake a gingerbread cake for the Christmas dinner. All was successful and only waits for the herd of in-laws to dig in.   The ladies will bring so many tasty dishes I feared being pummeled by old Brussels Sprouts for attempting to enter their cooking world...again...following the bread pudding of Thanksgiving which was also cooked secretly.  The safe course is to stay out of the kitchen while the ladies cook or prepare the dinner to serve. It depends on the woman but you should take the warning to heart and if she is really busy in the kitchen and talking to herself as she works, you better stay far, far away. If you NEED to be in the kitchen, feel your way carefully and with stealth. 

The safe course for me was to claim the kitchen on Thursday, while my wife was at her job, cooking to my own delight and cleaning up so all was better than when I started.  If the cake totally messed up, no one really needed to know about it. I remember a chocolate cake that fell so flat it looked like brownies...and was served as sticky brownies...successfully. If the gingerbread failed, what happened here would stay intention of serving gingerbread brownies.

Finally cooking a cake again after 20 years was not really the challenge expected.  The recipe was easy to follow and the cake promises to be delicious. (See previous post for a link to the official recipe.) The Gingerbread Cake and zesty lemon sauce will be a surprise at the dinner.

Recipe comments will be added to the photos as rereading reveals a need.

Ingredients for the Gingerbread are below. Note the light corn syrup which was bought to thin the black strap molasses if needed. A dark golden molasses was used instead and the corn syrup was not needed. The jar is now in a corner cupboard with two other jars of corn syrup. The ingredients are: 
  • 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar 
  • 3/4 cup Flavorful Honey(this was dark wildflower) 
  • 3/4 cup Molasses 
  • 2 tsp each Cinnamon and ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda  
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3 large Eggs(I like brown free range)
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups all purpose Flour
  • 1 packed tablespoon grated fresh Ginger Root
  • Enough time on your hands to bake the cake
  • Bake for 45 minutes at 325ºf or until tester inserted into cake comes out dry. (I used a broom straw in three places)

Ginger Root is peeled prior to grating.1 Tablespoon of grated ginger is needed.  The heavy plastic cutting board works very  well as a general work surface and cleans up easily.

A hand held "plane" grater  is used to prepare the ginger root. Enough ginger was grated enough to tightly fill a 1 TBS measure.

Liquid ingredients of molasses, honey and water are stirred in a sauce pan with 1 cup dark brown sugar.  This is heated on low to melt the butter and blend all into the rich mixture it is.  Eggs and milk are added after this mixture has cooled.

Once heat was reached, the butter melted fairly quickly. All was stirred regularly  In the meantime, the dry ingredients were gently sifted, blended and sat aside until called for.

Poured into a mixing bowl to cool, the golden molasses, honey, dark brown sugar and butter mixture  took the appearance of dichroic glass with deep reflective layers to play with the light. This was distracting play for a moment and I understand better why the women don't want me in the kitchen.  The mix should be just warm to the touch prior to adding eggs and milk.  While this cools, turn on the oven to bake at 325ºF.

The recipe calls for 3 large eggs and 1/2 cup of  2% milk.The eggs are added first, one at a time, followed with the milk.  The mixer was used to stir all neatly together but it may be done just as well by hand.

If using an electric mixer, run at a slow speed to blend and not froth the mixture. The ginger root was added in separated portions to prevent clumping and allow even distribution.

Add the flour mix in 4 parts, gently blending.  You may prefer to fold the flour into the liquid by hand; if so, use long strokes and fold until mixed nicely. It is not necessary to remove every lump to the very end.

This time a bundt pan was used ( the kind with a stem in the middle).  Grease the pan lightly with vegetable shortening and fully sprinkle with flour.  Turn the pan upside down and tap to remove excess flour.  Now you are ready to pour the batter into the pan.  The oven should be close to the right temperature at this point. Oh, I do wish we had a gas range and oven!

The pan goes on a rack in the center of the oven.  It will bake for 45 minutes and in the meantime, there is something to...

This is clean up...a necessary part of the baking task and reality in the kitchen.


The oven timer went off just now. I have a prepared piece of broom straw to test the cake...inserted here, and there, and there and, yes, it comes out clean. 

The Gingerbread cake cooled in the pan for about 20 minutes.  Placing the plate atop it, all was turned over with hope the cake would release from the pan and gently take its place on the serving plate. Success and the cats only wander in and out; no one is stopping to hear my speech.  Yet deep in me reflects a joy, like that dichroic glass reflection of the molasses, honey and butter.  Happy for the moment!  This is a very good thing.  "Thank you, Lord!"

The post of Gingerbread in Pictures is now done.  As for sauce or icing, so many ways are there for different tastes. Please pick your own, whether a spooned on warm sauce, whipped cream, a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a pour on sugar glaze icing suitable for little petit fours. For the warmed lemon sauce I used, here are the ingredients for 1 1/2 cups of sauce:
  • 1/2 cup fine ground sugar(not powdered sugar)
  • 1 TBS cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg(fresh if you have it)
  • a pinch of salt
 To be added last:
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1 tsp finely grated Lemon Zest (this took 2 lemons, grating only the yellow part of the peel)
  • juice of one lemon

Prepare lemon zest and juice first and set aside. Whisk the dry ingredients together while 1 cup of water comes to a boil, then add to boiling water, stir well and lower heat to a simmer until all thickens.  (The sauce thickens slightly, not so thick as table syrup and pours from a spoon with out drips.)
Add butter, zest and lemon juice, stir to blend  well, remove from heat.  

This sauce may be served to spoon on the gingerbread immediately or rewarmed in a microwave.

The end.

Thomas Haynes is a photographer working out of Clinton, Tennessee, a city just north of Knoxville. His photography is often of a fine arts direction but as in this post, his love of nature takes him again to the Clinch River Raptor Center, a rehabilitation and educational not-for-profit organization.. Visit Thomas and see more of his photography at  Facebook

 Contact Thomas to discuss photography you want done. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread Cake of the Tastiest Sort, Dark and Sticky, In Time for Christmas

Today I found no job opportunities to pursue and in celebration of life baked a cake, the first one since I married a wonderful lady over 20 years ago. Almost a year out of work deserves a cake and she will have the chance to see if I truly can bake a tasty one. With attention to the recipe  most anyone blessed with the ingredients, a cake pan, an oven and the time can very, very likely make this cake.

Following instructions is the key and the weak link in the chain. You will find this recipe easy to follow.
 Straight from the oven, the surface is delightful and the aroma is quite rich.

Had I known how inviting the gingerbread would look on top when baked, I might have used a rectangular pan instead of the bundt.  This would allow the appealing texture to show.  When turned over and out of the pan, the bundt shape is there but the wonderful crust texture does not glisten as much. If you want to dress up the bundt cake, a poured on thin icing will do nicely. In my case, the choice is no icing and a warmed lemon sauce spooned on each slice served.

The original recipe called for  unsulfured black strap molasses but a dark golden variety was substituted. The stronger flavored and darker blackstrap mollasses would possibly yield the darker gingerbread after which the recipe is named. If you prefer a less intense flavor, the lighter mollasses as used will do very well.

Would a seasoned baker or even candle stick maker know better than to use a quiche dish for a cake plate?  Getting the knife in there to serve the gingerbread will take a special maneuver! 
This dish adds a festive accent to the traditional Christmas desert. 

Baking Gingerbread in photographs with comments will be next on this blog...from ingredients to stirring, mixing, pouring and even the clean and shiny dishes and measuring cups all washed and ready for the next cooking adventure. Come back in a few days and see the gingerbread rise from a few disinterested ingredients to become a super cake!  That is a cheer for teamwork.
Thanks to Heidi Swinson and her wonderful recipes:   A December 11,2011 post of her revised recipe is here:

My hero and my salvation is always Christ. At this time of the year we think more of the family of Joseph and Mary, making the best of very simple surroundings for the birth of their child. Employed or not, I say thanksgiving for all the blessings in my family. I see many  people in more unpleasant situations and in dire straits. For those, there is special prayer this Christmas season.