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Gingerbread Cake [Apr. 15th, 2006|02:03 pm]

This makes a very dark very spicy cake. It's better the day after baking when the spices have had a chance to mellow.

Gingerbread cake

Recipe from Baking with Julia, comments in parentheses

2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup instant expresso powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature (I use extra-large)
2 ½ tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
2 cups unsulfered molasses
melted butter for greasing the pan
sweetened whipped cream for serving

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Brush the insides of either a 10 cup bundt pan, or a 10-inch round cake pan, or eight 4 by 1 inch mini cake pans with a light coating of melted butter, dust with flour, and tap out the excess. (Original recipe is for 8 “baby cakes” with the variant of one 10-inch round cake. I’ve always used a bundt pan for this recipe with good results.)

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, expresso powder (I’ve used instant coffee with good results), cocoa, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, and black pepper together just to mix; reserve.

Put the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a hand-held mixer, and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The butter and sugar must be beaten until they are very light and fluffy, so don’t rush it – the process can take 6 to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer, 3 to 4 minutes with a heavy-duty mixer. (The butter and sugar mixture will lighten considerable when it is beaten enough; look for a color change from medium brown to light brown.) Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating on high speed for 30 seconds to a minute after each addition. The mixture may look curdled, but that’s ok – it will smooth out as you continue to mix the batter. Beat in the fresh ginger and add the molasses, mixing on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth.

With a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

Fill the prepared pan (or pans) with the batter, and bake for 50 to 80 minutes, until the top is springy and a toothpick or tester inserted in center comes out clean. (Baking time is highly variable, depending on the pan size and shape. For the bundt cake, I make a trough in the center of the ring of batter in the pan, using a rubber spatula; it seems to help the bottom of the cake come out flat after baking. For round cakes, just level the batter in the pan. The cake will rise very little.) Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen and unmold the cake. Mini cakes will take 20 to 25 minutes to bake. If making a round cake or cakes, turn them over after unmolding so that they cool right side up.

Contributing baker Johanne Killeen