Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Gingerbread is the ideal counter cake. It sits on the counter and gets more and more delicious each day. Friends drop by during the holidays, you cut a few slices, and damn it’s good — intensely spiced, moist and tasty. It also goes really well with eggnog.

This recipe was developed by Claudia Fleming when she was the pastry chef at New York City’s Gramercy Tavern. The chef and the restaurant are respect-worthy. I have a penchant for cooking with beer so that’s another reason this recipe appealed to me.

When you inhale the aromas of the boiling beer and molasses, you know it’s going to be gingerbread unlike any other. It’s serious gingerbread. My choice of beer, a roasty and robust Highland Brewing’s Oatmeal Porter, gave a deep flavor to this hearty cake. Pour a glass of nog or winter brew and enjoy!

Serious Gingerbread

You’ll need  10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan, large saucepan, whisk, sieve or sifter, and two large bowls.

  • 1 cup oatmeal stout or porter, or regular stout or porter, like Sierra Nevada or Anchor — try to find an American microbrew stout or porter, otherwise, there’s always 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 (yes, tablespoons!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch (or more) 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
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350. Generously, and I mean generously, butter the bundt pan and dust it with flour, knocking out the excess. Removing a cake from a bundt pan can be a nightmare unless you’ve greased your pan extremely well. Even then, sometimes the pan won’t cooperate. You might want to flour the pan too, or use Baker’s Joy.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a saucepan and remove it from the heat. Whisk in the baking soda — the mixture will boil up so make sure your pan is large enough to prevent overflow. After you whisk in the baking soda, let it cool to room temperature.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs and sugars in another bowl. Whisk the oil into the eggs and sugars, then whisk in the molasses mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour the batter into the bundt pan and rap the pan sharply on the counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool the cake in its pan on a rack for at least 30 minutes. If you’re able, carefully loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a slim knife or spatula. Turn out onto the rack and cool completely.

Serve the cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It’s even better if it’s made a day ahead. The cake will keep three days, covered, at room temperature.

Original recipe: Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread, Gourmet, February 2000

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