I started craving gingerbread about a month ago. I don’t know why, but suddenly I really, really, really wanted some gingerbread.
I don’t think gingerbread is a thing here in Hawaii. I’ve never seen gingerbread mix here like I used to back on the mainland. As I began researching recipes to make some from scratch, I realized we had everything on hand except for molasses and a recipe, so I picked up a jar of molasses a couple of weeks ago and started looking for a new recipe. An ice cream sale at Safeway plus some British ginger nut biscuits delayed things for a few days but once Brett and I had finished those things it was finally time for me to bake some gingerbread.
The gingerbread recipe I had used and loved in the past had unfortunately been in the box that the movers lost, and there were almost too many other gingerbread recipes out there to choose from, or so it seemed. Most recipes appeared to be fairly similar, but I wanted one with a little something extra, and I eventually found what I wanted on the Smitten Kitchen blog. Her gingerbread recipe (via Martha Stewart) contained an additional ingredient that we also happened to have on hand: freshly grated ginger root. That, I knew, would add a lovely little kick to the recipe.
I was a bit worried when I first read through the instructions though, thinking it sounded overly complicated, but it came together very easily and quickly. The finished cake is perfectly delicious, very moist and flavorful, but the best part of making this recipe was that I was able to do the entire batter in a four-quart saucepan. A saucepan might seem like a strange piece of kitchen gear to mix up a cake, but the recipe starts with boiling water, and being able to do everything in one pan meant that cleanup was easier than it might have been otherwise.
Smitten Kitchen suggests dusting the finished gingerbread with powdered sugar or adding a dollop of whipped cream, but I absolutely love gingerbread with lemon sauce. We had a jar of Monkeypod Jam Meyer lemon curd just waiting for something special, and a spoonful of that has been perfect with our gingerbread cake. Yum, yum, yum!
GINGERBREAD SNACKING CAKE
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut into chunks]
- I cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar (I only had light brown; it worked fine)
- 1 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (optional but it really makes the flavor of the cake zing)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- powdered sugar (optional)
- whipped cream (optional)
- lemon curd or lemon sauce (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan by either buttering and flouring, or coating well with cooking spray (I chose chooking spray as it’s a very moist cake and I didn’t want it to stick).
In a large saucepan, boil the water, and add the baking soda (it will foam up a bit). Let stand for 5 minutes, then add the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Stir in the brown sugar, molasses, and freshly grated ginger. The mixture should be barely warm by now but in case it’s still hot let it sit an additional 10 minutes. Whisk in the two eggs.
Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking powder over the molasses mixture in the saucepan and whisk to combine. If your saucepan isn’t big enough, transfer the molasses mixture to a large mixing bowl first, whisk in the eggs, and then sift the dry ingredients over it and then whisk to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you’re not going to store the cake in the baking pan, turn out the hot cake to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. Otherwise cool completely in the pan. Before serving, dust the gingerbread with powdered sugar if desired and/or serve with whipped cream, lemon curd, or lemon sauce.