I love watching cooking competitions, so queued up for my viewing pleasure are past episodes of the Christmas Cookie Challenge and The Great British Baking Show. I have learned not to watch these shows when I am hungry because I then want to make everything that the contestants are making on the show. Or they send me down a food rabbit hole that goes something like this… Ooh, gingerbread cookies are so cute. I should make some of those to give to some of the frontline workers I know…But what I really like is gingerbread. The cake, not the cookies….How come no one makes gingerbread anymore?…I should make some gingerbread.
That is how I ended up whipping some up for our dessert the other night when we were celebrating sending off our final tuition payment… after eight straight years of paying for college, we are through! Woohoo! If that doesn’t call for a nice piece of gingerbread, I don’t know what does! I plan to make it again tonight for our Christmas Eve dinner so that the girls can enjoy it too.
This recipe comes from Joy of Baking. The tweaks I made were to omit the fresh ginger and instead add diced candied ginger to both the cake and as garnishment on top. I served it with whipped cream that I sweetened with brown sugar.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
zest of one lemon
¼ cup grated ginger or finely chopped crystalized ginger (what I used)
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup molasses
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan with 2 inch tall sides. (You can also use a round pan.)
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, lemon zest and ginger.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the molasses and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the dry ingredients (in three additions), alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Frost with lemon icing.
Lemon Icing: Mix together the sifted confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. The icing should be thick but still spreadable. Pour the icing onto the center of the cake and spread with an offset spatula. I then garnished the top with additional chopped crystallized ginger.
The cake will keep for several days at room temperature.
I also did end up baking gingerbread men, and a bunch of other cookies, for various docs and medical practices nearby. Some new favorites this year were the brown butter pistachio sables (from this month’s Bon Appetit) and matcha wreaths (from Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen online).