Friday, April 9, 2010

On the Gingerbread Trail

Julie had her Julia. I just bought Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “Heavenly Cakes”, and though I don’t think I will be going through it as systematically as Julie went through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, I am slowly trying out this collection of wonderful cake recipes.

First up- the English Gingerbread- as I am also on a quest for the perfect gingerbread recipe ever since I tasted the gingerbread at Standard Bakery in Portland, Maine. Their gingerbread is wonderful, dark, spicy and dense, and I would love to be able to replicate it.  The English Gingerbread Cake is very good, but much lighter and not as gingery as I prefer.  So, as a comparison, I made the Fresh Ginger Gingerbread recipe from the Little Pie Company, a bakery in New York City.  It is a darker and richer gingerbread, made with grated fresh ginger. For the taste I am looking for, I prefer the latter, but I will leave both recipes and you can decide.

English Gingerbread Cake, adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups golden syrup or light corn syrup
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon orange marmalade
2 large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup milk
1 cup plus two tablespoons cake flour (4 ounces)
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole wheat  pastry flour (4 ounces)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup crystallized ginger minced (optional)
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 8 inch by 2 inch square pan or 9 by 2 inch round pan. Line bottom with parchment and spray with baking spray with flour.

In a small saucepan, stir together the butter, golden syrup, sugar and marmalade over medium-low heat until melted and uniform in color. Set aside about 10 minutes until barely warm.  Whisk in eggs and milk.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt.  Add the butter mixture and stir until just smooth and the consistency of thick soup.  Using spatula, pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 50-60 minutes until cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean and cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.  Let cake cool in pan for about 10 minutes. While cooling, make the syrup.

Lemon Butter Syrup 

3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemn juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a small pan, stir together the sugar, lemon juice and butter.  Heat over medium-low heat, stirring, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

Brush half the syrup over the top of cake.  Run a spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Brush the bottom with the remaining syrup.  Invert cake onto a serving plate so top is up.  For extra moisture, cover the cake with plastic wrap while still hot and allow it to cool. Wrap airtight for 24 hours before serving.

Fresh Ginger Gingerbread, from the Little Pie Company of the Big Apple, Pies and Other Dessert Favorites

1 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs at room temperature
½ cup dark sulfured molasses
2 tablespoons finely minced peeled fresh ginger
¾ cup buttermilk at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease and flour an 8 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Sift the mixture into a bowl.

In a mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and dark brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add the molasses and fresh ginger, mixing until combined.

Add the sifted dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Scrape the bowl well after each addition, and mix only until the ingredients are combined.  Pour batter into pan and smooth the top. Bake 30-40 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.  Let cool slightly before removing from pan.

If you like, you can glaze when warm with a mixture of confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice or use the lemon butter glaze from the English Gingerbread Cake.

((post by susan))

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