I am a big fan of foods you only eat at certain times of the year. This gingerbread cake is no exception. It smells like December; it tastes like December.
The recipe comes from Tyler Florence’s book, Real Kitchen. The only change I make is to add candied ginger to the cake batter, driving the point home. I’m not one for subtlety, you see.
In the book, it is accompanied with a great cranberry compote, so that is certainly an option. Displayed whole, the cake would be beautiful on the Christmas dinner tables of my goyishe friends, placed atop a suitably beautiful pedestal and decorated with candied cranberries tumbling down a mound of unsweetened whipped cream. Here I serve it plated with an eggnog sauce and frosted cranberries (oh, so festive).
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ginger, ground
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp clove, ground
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
3 oz candied ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup sugar
4 oz butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
Grease a 9” round cake pan and line it with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, add the candied ginger, toss to coat, and set aside. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg, molasses, sugar, and melted butter until it looks thick. Add the dry ingredients in batches alternately with the buttermilk, mixing well between additions. Scrape down the bowl after each addition and give the batter a good mix by hand before pouring it into the pan. Bake at 350º until the cake has pulled away slightly from the pan, and a toothpick comes out clean (30-40 minutes). Cool the cake on a wire rack. If you wrap the cake and chill it, it will cut cleaner; however, serve it room temperature or slightly warmed.
2 cup half-and-half
Quarter of a nutmeg, freshly grated
6 egg yolks
5 oz of sugar
1-2 tbsp (as desired) dark rum
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
In a saucepan, bring the half-and-half and freshly grated nutmeg to a scald (170º). In a bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until light and thick. Whisk in the rum. Slowly add the hot cream to the yolk mixture, whisking as you go. Pour this custard base back into the pot and return to a medium-low heat. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook the custard until it has just thickened and coats the back of the spoon (it will be about 180º-185º). Remove from heat and pour into a storage container and cool quickly in an ice bath. Store the sauce in the fridge.
As you can see, the cake couldn’t be easier. Even those I-don’t-bake types can throw this together. Skip the sauce and decorations if you want, it’s fabulous just dusted with powdered sugar and a generous fresh grating of nutmeg.