Classic Stout Gingerbread
I’m not sure about you, but gingerbread isn’t something that’s too common in my life. Maybe it’s just the people I associate with, but it seems like no one I know ever eats it and no one really asks about it. Is there suppose to be some grandma in my family who delivers a homemade loaf of gingerbread to a family party every year, among other goodies? Even though it’d be nice to have that type of tradition, I have no such gingerbread grandma and my family rarely has any sort of extended family get-togethers.
Maybe I’ll become one of those gingerbread grandmas one day, you know, when I’m old. Wouldn’t that be fun! To be the one who’s a stickler about following traditions and always bringing the treats that people associate lovingly with certain memories and times of the year. Now that is something I could be when I grow up. I could pass recipes on to other people and sneakily call them my own even though they came from the back of the ingredient box or from some well known website. This gingerbread will be one of them, I’m pretty sure.
This was the second year I’ve made this gingerbread. My mom’s already asked for a second round of it this season–but this next time a double batch. It’s moist and spicy and full flavored from plenty of ginger, molasses and a helping of stout. Cook’s Illustrated, where the recipe comes from, describes it as a “snack cake,” which I think is pretty fitting, seeing as it’s not sweet enough for me to label it as a full-out cake and the crumb is more tender than dense. Cook’s prides themselves on developing this gingerbread to not suffer a gummy, sunken center, and their recipe delivers: the crumb is uniform throughout.
I’m planning on making this at least once a year from now on (or, like in this case, twice a year). Sooner or later I won’t get the typical response of “…do you mean gingerbread cookies?” when I tell someone that I’m making gingerbread. No, gingerbread will be associated with the holidays and family and before everyone knows it, it’ll be a tradition.
Classic Stout Gingerbread
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, January 2011
Serves about 8-10, or one 8-inch square cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger (if you’re extremely sensitive to heat, lower this to 1 /2 or maybe 1 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
3/4 cup stout
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and center a oven rack in the middle. Grease and flour an 8-inch glass baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and the black pepper together in a large bowl; set aside.
Heat the stout in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda–at this point the mixture will foam vigorously and smell a little funny. When the foaming subsides, stir in the molasses, brown sugar and granulated sugar until it dissolves. Transfer stout mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the eggs, oil and grated ginger until combined.
In thirds, pour and combine the wet stout-molasses mixture into the dry flour mixture, stirring vigorously until completely smooth after each addition.
Pour the batter into prepared pan and gently tap against the counter three or four times or so to get rid of any large air bubbles. Bake until the top of the cake is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on wire rack until closer to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dusting of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.