Saturday, 21 December 2013

Sweet Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread Cake with Caramel Sauce

Some fragrances suggest Christmas more beautifully than others, but gingerbread cake is likely to be voted the number 1 winner.  The spicing in this cake is softer and sweeter than traditional ginger breads, but goes beautifully with my gooey caramel  sauce. 

Caramel Sauce
This should be heated a minute in the microwave.

A certain chain restaurant up here in Canada set the bar high for gingerbread, serving it always with a gooey sauce.  This cake can be made with the larger amount of sugar shown, if no additional sauce is being served.  The larger amount of sugar shown below will cause your cake to make its own sauce. 

The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook

My oldest cookbook, The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook (1971), inspired this gingerbread cake recipe, but oh, I've taken it further.  In those days, people were content to dress gingerbread with whipped cream or ice-cream, but as that restaurant chain has shown us, why stop there?

The Batter
Jaggery imparts a richer flavour than sugar.
½ cup soft regular butter
1 cup jaggery (or brown sugar, if you must)
1 teaspoon canola oil
½ cup molasses
2 eggs
1 tablespoon dried ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 green cardamom pods, husked and ground to powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup hot water

The Built In Sauce
2 tablespoons soft butter
3 to 9 tablespoons sugar crystals (see below)
left over cardamom from grinding bowl
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 baking apples, quartered, cored and sliced into ¼ inches 

Preparation time is two and a half hours, including cooling time.  Serves ten with ice-cream.  Oven temp is 350F.

Start by whipping the butter.  When it’s fluffy, and a lighter colour, add the jaggery (or sugar) and continue to whip.  Grease a measuring cup with the oil, then measure out molasses and add to butter mixture.  Continue to whip, then add eggs and continue whipping.  Turn machine off to add the ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, along with salt, baking powder, soda and flour.  Turn the mixer on to slow, and slowly add the hot water, beating to combine but be cautious of over beating.

Generously butter and then sugar a better pan than mine.
Prepare the pan by generously buttering a leakproof and ovenproof pan.  (I wanted something round, and settled on my springform, which is now causing leaks which are burning and making smoke throughout my kitchen.  Sigh.)

Anyway, once your sensible pan is generously buttered, sprinkle a few grains of sugar into your mortar and pestle, and grind a bit to pick up the last molecule of cardamom powder.  Add the cinnamon and all the sugar you are using, and stir, then shake into the pan.  Lift the pan and tilt until the sugar covers the bottom and sides of the pan.  Your decision on how much sugar to use depends on whether you’re making additional caramel sauce for your gingerbread.  I’ve already made the sauce specially to go with this cake, so I used just three tablespoons of sugar.  Next, make as pretty a pattern as you can with the apple slices.

These will show when cake is turned over.
Pour the batter over the apple mix, using a spatula to smooth out.  Bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.  Place on a cooling rack for an hour, then turn over onto a pretty serving plate.

The apples and sugar will make a nice gooey sauce, and you’ll have a goodly amount of sauce if you go with the full amount of sugar.  Mine will still have a bit of gooey sauce from the bottom of the pan, but really, I did make this cake for the sake of my amazing caramel sauce.  

My caramel sauce is so good it can change your entire philosophy.  In fact, I’ve decided to treat myself as though I’m eternally floating in the good love of a vat of this caramel sauce.  

This gentle sweet gingerbread cake will compliment the warmed sauce, especially when contrasted with the cool sweetness of whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.  Oh, my goodness, it’s enough to start me singing carols.  

Ginger Bread Cake with Apples
Would have had  more of its own caramel if I'd used the right pan!  Still pretty and gooey though!

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