Tuesday, December 18, 2012

recipe: gingerbread cake

Sunday afternoon, Mike, Jen and Jamie came over for an early Christmas brunch. For the past few years, we've gotten together before Christmas to celebrate the holiday and trade gifts, and I really look forward to it.

And this year we got some live music, provided by the guitar-wielding Jamie.

And here I put this blog post on pause to talk to you about that mirror above my couch.

Since Tony and I moved into our house, I've been stumped about what to hang over the couch. For a long time, the wall was empty. Then I painted a huge painting of birds on a wire, but I got tired of it. Then I put together a gallery wall, but it was too chaotic for me. And then I found this antique mirror at an antique mall in Ohio this fall for $22! (The same store where I scored my fancy elephant.) It was painted pink to be shabby chic, so I just needed a jar of gold paint. (I used the same paint for my gold eagle over the mantel.) The mirror is heavy, so I bought mirror-hanging hardware from Home Depot with a self-drilling screw to ensure the bracket doesn't pull away from the drywall. And the verdict is: I love my mirror. It's just the right size for the wall space, and it gives the room another dimension and really does make it feel bigger.

Oh, and here is a random mirror-cleaning tip from my mom. You've seen old mirrors with black smudges on them. Apparently that's from moisture getting behind the frame. So when you clean your mirrors, squirt the Windex directly onto your rag and not onto the mirror, so extra moisture doesn't get back there. The More You Know.

Anyway, back to gingerbread cake. I served gingerbread cake for dessert Sunday. If you're still undecided about a dessert to serve for Christmas, let me suggest gingerbread cake with whipped cream. It's seasonally appropriate and delicious. It tastes like Christmas.

Behold, this beautiful cake (with the aftermath of wrapping paper in the background).

The nice folks of America's Test Kitchen did it again. The ingredients seem weird (stout beer, pepper), but it all works together.

Gingerbread Cake
Via America's Test Kitchen

  • 3/4 cup stout beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • whipped cream for serving
In a small saucepan, bring stout to a boil. (Beer from your home state is optional.)

Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. When foaming subsides, stir in molasses, brown sugar and sugar.

In a stand mixer bowl, combine flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pepper.

Transfer stout mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, oil and fresh ginger.

Whisk wet mixture into flour mixture in thirds, mixing until completely smooth after each addition.

Grease and flour a pan. The recipe calls for an 8-inch square pan. I didn't have that, so I used a 9-inch round pan, which I figured had the same area as the square pan. (Area of square pan: 8 x 8 = 64. Area of round pan: 3.14 x 4.5 x 4.5 = 63.6. Thank you, Math.)

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap against the counter a few times.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. (Original recipe said 35 to 45 minutes.) Don't open the oven door during baking. Cake will be done when toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream.

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