Sunday, March 24, 2013

Guinness Stout Ginger Cake

If you ever want to try a dark and funky gingerbread cake you should try this recipe.  I know that description sounds a little odd, but I used the phrase "dark and funky" to describe the batter and then the cake when I first tasted it.  I think that I keep using that phrase because that is how I think of molasses and stout, both of which are principal ingredients in the batter.  Molasses is sweet and bitter at the same time and has a really deep and complex flavor.  I just can't figure out how to describe it.  If you have ever had gingerbread then you have had molasses.  We stayed away from blackstrap molasses (which I find super bitter) and used a medium unsulphured molasses.  When Alex and I shared our first piece of cake this morning we independently came to the conclusion that it needs something sweet to go with it.  I had already discarded the idea of making a glaze for the cake, but I was thinking that a nice, lightly sweetened whipped cream (or whipped creme fraiche with honey) or some Greek yogurt ice cream/gelato would be the perfect accompaniment.  Unfortunately we didn't have any of those things.  We do have heavy cream so I could have easily made homemade whipped cream but I got lazy.  I also considered lightly dusting it with powdered sugar but thought that powdered sugar would be pretty, but wouldn't contribute anything new and interesting to the flavor profile.  For some reason, this cake makes me want something creamy to go with it.  Alex suggested a batch of cream cheese frosting, which would be great if we had cream cheese in the fridge.  We had a little vanilla ice cream left in the freezer and we tried that, but it wasn't quite the flavor pairing I was looking for.  Alex thought the cake made the vanilla ice cream almost taste minty.  I'm not sure I agree with him about the minty flavor, but I agree that it wasn't quite right somehow.  I'm going to keep experimenting with the cake until I figure it out because it is a really interesting cake.  I don't taste the Guinness stout, but I definitely taste the molasses and the ginger.  I wouldn't be able to identify all of the other spices in the cake by flavor (although I obviously know what spices are in there), but you can tell there are lots of spices in there because the cake is spicy.  I wanted to throw in some chopped up crystallized ginger but the batter was so liquid-y that I was worried the ginger would sink to the bottom of the loaf pans and burn, rather than remaining suspended throughout the cake.  In the end it's probably a good thing that I omitted the crystallized ginger.  But if I were to top the cake with cream cheese frosting I would probably sprinkle the crystallized ginger on top...

Recipe after the jump!

Guinness Stout Ginger Cake
Adapted from Epicurious

1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup molasses
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh gingerroot

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter two 9- X 5-inch loaf pan, line the bottom and sides with parchment, and grease the parchment. Alternatively, butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan.

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses and bring to a boil. Watch the saucepan carefully because it will expand dramatically and boil over in seconds if you're not paying attention. Turn off the heat and add the baking soda. Allow to sit until the foam dissipates.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs and both sugars. Whisk in the oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.

Combine the stout mixture with the egg mixture, then whisk this liquid into the flour mixture, half at a time. Add the fresh ginger and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Do not open the oven until the gingerbread is almost done, or the center may fall slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve with ice cream, cream cheese frosting, whipped cream or something else.  I'm still working on that part.

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