Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gingerbread Cake with Cinnamon Butter Glaze

You know all of those Christmas Carols about family… About being together…

“I’ll be home for Christmas…”
“All I want for Christmas is you”

The classics.

Well they really have a new meaning when you actually can’t be home for Christmas. I ask myself, “What’s Christmas without family (and Mom's lasagna), really?” Not much.

So I’m going to encourage you to take a moment or two this year to really, reaaaallly take it in and appreciate everyone around you. Even your annoying uncle Joe who makes inappropriate jokes and your arrogant cousin Janet who can’t stop bragging about her new job.

So many different personalities from the same pool of blood coming together to create one hot and hilarious mess. Just take it all in! Love it, enjoy it and have a lot of laughs. Family is important and they’re all dysfunctional (so, you’re not alone). Even if the conversations always turn to pension and high taxes… and you find yourself wanting to bury yourself in the ground, it’s your family. They are always there for you, and, you know what? They are pretty cool.

Aside from family, there’s probably nothing more suited to Christmas than Gingerbread.

This cake is up on my list as one of my faves. I absolutely adore it. The aroma alone will bring a huge grin to your face and warm fuzziness to your heart. It is slightly dense, yet very soft and moist. The molasses flavour marries with butter and spice so much so that you’ll think someone’s mixed all of the ingredients of a happy Christmas into a baking pan.

It is based on a traditional butter cake that uses the creaming method, but also includes a healthy dose of molasses to keep it wonderfully moist, soft and delicately caramelly with that adoring licorice flavour.

Gingerbread automatically calls for spices. Here we use ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a harmonious balance. If they've been in your cupboard for more than a year, please toss them. Let's start fresh.

In this lovely cake, butter (as opposed to vegetable oil) is such an efficient vehicle to carry the spices and mold them into one enticing flavour. Oil would not have the same effect, and instead of a smooth carry-over of spice, you’ll get random spikes of sharp spice notes at different intensities. Butter is a base, a canvas, a smoother-overer and an enhancer. Vote butter!

Can we talk about his glaze? Ohhh mama, this glaze.

You might want to make a double batch… It is holy. It is devine. Buttery, a hint of molasses, a hint of spice. Perfect. Butter is the star once again.

First you make something like a rich butterscotch sauce, enhance it with a bit of cinnamon and then let it cool. Then you beat in softened butter until it looks thick, creamy and soooo velvety. When this glaze sets, it is almost like very soft fudge. You might scrape it off the slice you cut for your husband and add it to yours because he probably wont notice.

I hope you have a wonderful celebration this holiday season.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, take time to celebrate family, health, happiness and the fact that you are able to provide.

Enjoy each other and LOVE!

xo Christina.

Gingerbread Cake with Cinnamon Butter Glaze
Makes one 8-inch round cake

1 2/3 cups (235 g) all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground clove
½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup fancy molasses or treacle
2/3 cup whole milk

For the icing:
3 tbsp milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided and at room temperature
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line the base of an 8-inch round, 3-inch tall baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the sides.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minutes on medium speed. Add egg and beat until smooth. Beat in molasses until blended and mixture is somewhat fluffy. With mixer on low, add one third of dry ingredients followed by half of the milk. Add half of remaining dry ingredients and then the rest of the milk. Finally beat in the last of the dry ingredients until you have a smooth, thick batter.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading it out evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, combine milk and one tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Add brown sugar, golden syrup, spices and salt and stir until dissolved. Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to a gentle boil. Continue to cook at a low boil for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour mixture out into a metal bowl and let cool completely, placing it in the fridge to speed up the process. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of soft butter to the bowl with the cooled syrup and beat with electric hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread over cooled cake and serve immediately.
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