I’m back to blogging after a brief hiatus. You’re thrilled, I can tell, and let me tell you something – so am I. This blogging business is the cat’s pajamas and it’s made baking an even more enjoyable experience for me.
I’m going to try to feature all of the holiday recipes in the MSBH this month, starting with this little gem of a gingerbread cake recipe. It’s not an “official” holiday recipe, but who are we kidding? Gingerbread and Christmas go together like monkeys and accordians.
This recipe is seemingly easy enough, but the execution demands some finesse and I had to make it three times before the cakes were of acceptable quality. The biggest problem is that they don’t want to come out of the pan. Simply buttering and flouring the muffin pan was not enough. I had cut out little circles of parchment paper and put them in the bottom of each cup in addition to a lot of butter and a lot of flour. The other major problem was adjusting the leavening for altitude. Usually, I do not make that adjustment for MSBH recipes; even at 7,200 feet about sea level I find the MSBH recipes come out just fine as-is. But this recipe was different and I ultimately reduced the baking soda and baking powder by 25% each.
I love the use of fresh ginger. The gingersnap cookie recipe from MSBH uses fresh ginger as well. If you want to do something nice for yourself today, go buy some ginger root, chop off a hunk, hold it up to your nose and breath deeply.
The typical gingerbread spices are used – cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger – and sifted into the flour.
The batter is not even remotely viscous* like typical cake batter, in large part due to the hot water that’s added with the baking soda. It pours right into the muffin cups. Big tip I learned: the cups should only be filled 1/3 of the way, not halfway like the recipe says. Learned that little lesson the hard way on take-one of this recipe.
Here are the baked cakes from my third try at this recipe. I’d reduced the leavening, lined the cups with parchment and extra butter, and only filled the cups 1/3 of the way. Finally, I ended up with acceptable cakes, fit for glazing.
I still had a few causalities, like that little cake below with the crab arm. These cakes simply do NOT want to leave the pan. “Just use non-stick muffin tins,” you may proclaim, but I loathe baking with non-stick muffin tins. I never have good results with dark pans. And I love how the stoneware muffin pan bakes. Really, it was an issue with the recipe and the methods that I needed to work out, not with the pan.
Once the cakes have cooled, they’re simply coated with a simple chocolate ganache. Chocolate ganache has to be one of the easiest and most impressive ways to finish off a cake. Although not the healthiest. Not even a little bit the healthiest.
For the MSBH Chocolate Ganache recipe (which is like any other chocolate ganache recipe I’ve seen), you just add semi-sweet chocolate to hot heavy cream. I brought the cream to just a simmer on the stovetop and then removed from the heat and dropped in the chopped chocolate.
Then it’s just a matter of stirring until smooth. This takes mere seconds.
The ganache is then poured over the cakes. It thickens as it cools, and taking pictures along the way left my ganache a bit more viscous** than what was desirable. I could have stirred in a couple tablespoons more of warm cream or even warmed the ganache over a double-boiler, but who has the time? I’m not too concerned with the thick ganache glaze.
A garnish of crystallized ginger is added to the top and voila – an individual dessert to follow Christmas dinner. The gingerbread cake itself is light and moist and the spices are not overpowering at all. The ganache gives it a definite richness and smoothness; the ginger and dark chocolate flavors complement each other well, I think. I love it!
*Look at me, bringin’ it with the science.
**Again, with the science.