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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The old fashioned pleasure of gingerbread...

Just say the word "gingerbread" and images of a home decorated for the holidays with a glowing fire in the fireplace instantly come to mind. It was a little easier for me to conjure up these thoughts while we were on the East Coast visiting family....it's a little harder when it's 70 degrees here in LA.

Anyway, while we were in Philly, my mom was wondering what to do with some heavy whipping cream left over from a pasta dish she had made, so I decided to keep it simple and just make whipped cream to serve on top of warm gingerbread cake. I find that if you bake with some frequency, most likely, you have all the ingredients in your pantry already for gingerbread recipes (cakes or cookies) and therefore, it is a great quick "no trip to the store" dessert solution....and my mom's pantry did not disappoint!

I found a pretty basic recipe on Joy of Baking. Their recipe called for lemon zest in the cake and a lemon icing to top. I didn't have any lemons and planned on making homemade whipped cream, so I skipped these steps. The original recipe also calls for light brown sugar as well as unsulphured molasses...whether you decide to use light or dark brown sugar or sulphured vs unsulphured molasses really depends on how much you like molasses. Dark brown sugar and unsulphured molasses have a more intense molasses flavor than their lighter counterparts. I tend to only buy the darker stuff but that's me...

For best results on the whipped cream, use a metal or glass bowl (not plastic). Chill the bowl in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so before pouring the heavy cream into it for beating.

Gingerbread Cake (adapted from Joy of Baking)

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 molasses
1 cup milk

Grease and flour a 9 inch round or square pan and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together all dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

In a bigger but separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time.
Add molasses and beat until combined.
Alternately add dry ingredients and milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth batter to ensure even depth of batter in the pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Basic Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon confectioners' (powdered) sugar

Beat heavy cream in chilled metal or glass bowl until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and sugar and continue to beat until stiffer peaks form. Take care not to over beat after the stiff peaks form as the cream may start to look lumpy.


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