Monday, December 14, 2009

guinness stout ginger cake

guinness stout ginger cake

This is not a cake for the faint of heart. No, this stout ginger cake is bold, serious, intense, brooding. Yes, brooding. A cake can brood; this one does. Trust me. And if you’re the kind of person who only likes yellow cake (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love yellow cake myself) then this might give you pause. Because this is a cake for those who like their sweets scaled back. It balances bitter notes with the spices, and adds a doze of restrained (we like our sweets restrained), mature sweetness. It’s complex, yet comforting; dark, yet not heavy and, unlike its last year cousin which goes much better with tea, this Guinness ginger cake is the perfect candidate for your Christmas morning coffee, making it a perfect accompaniment to opening presents. Besides, if you make it the over Christmas eve, you’re in luck–the cake tastes better the day after you make it. And who doesn’t love a make-ahead cake?

guinness stout ginger cakemise. i heart mise.
guinness stout ginger cakeguinness stout ginger cake

This cake comes courtesy of Claudia Fleming, she of “The Last Course” fame, formerly of the Gramercy Tavern, and currently of The North Fork Table and Inn where she signed the her book for me while I stared at her in muted star-struck awe.

guinness stout ginger cakeguinness stout ginger cake

My coworkers proclaimed that this cake tasted like Christmas, my thoughts exactly, but don’t take it from this Hannukah-loyal (Christmas-jealous) household. They would know better than I. They’re a good and kind bunch at the office, dutifully consuming whatever baked good I bring from home; always, always an eager audience. They even didn’t mind that I brought them the “ugly” cousin of this cake because I got a little over-zealous with flouring my bundt, and what came out as a result was white-spot studded ginger cake. [Fun tip: instead of dusting the bundt pan with flour, use unsweetened cocoa powder instead!]

guinness stout ginger cake

Which would have been fine had I not been making this for the Bon Appetit magazine bake-off party where the Bon Appetit Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild and the one and only Francois Payard were two of the judges. At eleven o’clock at night, take two of the cake commenced and this time I was much smarter – instead of sprinkling the pan with flour, I used unsweetened cocoa powder thus avoiding any chances of white spots. Take two – great success. Take one was gleefully consumed by a new and very lovely friend Alice of Savory Sweet Life (have you seen her blog and stunning pictures?) and her husband Rob as well as my office mates.

guinness stout ginger cake

And here we are less than two weeks away from Christmas, in the throes of Hannukah frenetically shopping for our nearest and dearest, planning our holiday parties, preparing for our vacations (Hello, Dominican Republic and that teeny tiny bikini!) that any cake that’s a cinch to make, tastes better the next day, and has the quiet sophistication of a navy cashmere sweater, has a gold star in my book. Serve with a poached pear compote and unsweetened whipped cream for a special holiday dessert, or just eat it plain accompanied by a cup of coffee. Because if there’s one thing we don’t get enough of this time of year, it’s that quiet moment at the table with coffee, a good book and some comforting, holiday-worthy cake. So let us eat cake, and let us be still for a moment – we’ve definitely earned it.

P.S. I like to serve this cake with this poached pear compote!

guinness stout ginger cake

guinness stout ginger cake

Guinness Stout Ginger Cake
Adapted from The Last Supper, by Claudia Fleming (with Melissa Clark)

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

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 7×5 inch loaf pan, line the b ottom and sides with parchment, and grease the parchment. Alternatively, butter and flour a 6-cup Bundt pan.

2. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the baking soda. Allow to sit until the foam dissipates.

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

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

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

6. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, 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 the poached pear compote and unsweetened whipped cream.

Serves 8.

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  • 1
    mara said:

    I’ve really been into the less sweet desserts lately with more complex flavors, so this sounds great. Plus, I’m sure my husband would love this. His ears perk up when there’s anything to do with beer.

    December 14, 2009 8:57 am
  • 2

    It’s absolutely beautiful.

    December 14, 2009 9:22 am
  • 3
    Whitney said:

    So perfect! The 2nd try really came out beautiful. I bet this would be really good with a big mug of hot coffee while opening presents from under the tree.

    December 14, 2009 10:03 am
  • 4
    Gala said:

    That looks like an intense delicious cake!

    December 14, 2009 10:57 am
  • 5
    Radish said:

    Mara – I heart everything with beer too! :)

    Whitney – that’s what I’m thinking. Though, this Jewish gal will be eating dim sum on Christmas morning :-)

    December 14, 2009 11:07 am
  • 6
    Alice said:

    This is one of the best cakes I’ve ever had.

    December 14, 2009 12:06 pm
  • 7

    Is that some of your pear compote I spy in the foreground in the last photo? I bet it would be a lovely accompaniment!

    December 14, 2009 1:10 pm
  • 8

    It was fun meeting you–your cake was beautiful. And so smart to use cocoa powder to dust the pan! I will try that next time.

    December 14, 2009 1:21 pm
  • 9
    Radish said:

    Alice – thanks, it’s an honor you liked it so much!

    Noelle – yes, that’s the pear compote, good eye – and it was really good.

    Lisa – lovely to meet you (FINALLY!) and i wanted to pat myself on the back with the cocoa powder thing too — super useful and glad to share.

    December 14, 2009 1:55 pm
  • 10

    Oh my lord, this cake looks absolutely delish and the flavors are definitely sophisticated! And I love Alice! She’s awesome!

    December 14, 2009 6:19 pm
  • 11

    This cake looks amazing – anything unexpected that comes out of the oven around the holidays deserves a round of applause in my book, and the stunning satiny brown finish doesn’t hurt!

    December 15, 2009 7:54 pm
  • 12

    I am going to make this. I can just imagine the taste!

    December 16, 2009 12:28 am
  • 13
    kms said:

    my irish husband would go nuts over this.

    December 16, 2009 11:16 am
  • 14
    janelle said:

    well… we have strong hearts! It looks divine, love the oranges as a garnish;)

    December 19, 2009 9:10 am
  • 15

    This cake looks absolutely amazing!!!

    December 20, 2009 9:51 am
  • 16
    shayma said:

    i am a big fan of “restrained sweet” desserts in general (though i do like a white cake very much, too). such a fascinating combination- guinness and ginger, it looks so dense and rich. so palpable, the intensity. christmassy, indeed, even if coming from a hanukkah loyal kitchen. best wishes, shayma

    December 21, 2009 5:43 am
  • 17
    Bill R. said:

    I don’t get it: Why do you need both a loaf pan and a bundt pan? From what I can see in the pictures, you used the bundt pan for the entire thing? Where does the loaf pan come into the picture?

    December 22, 2009 6:58 pm
  • 18
    Bill R. said:

    Wait, I get it now. Either pan will. Work!

    December 22, 2009 6:59 pm
  • 19
    inarges said:

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I gave it a try on Christmas (I know, risky, but it was an intimate gathering, and my friends are pretty cool about being experimented on) — everyone LOVED it.

    Question, though: as the second ingredient, you’ve got “1/2 tbs baking soda” listed – is that really half a tablespoon, i.e. 1 1/2 teaspoons?

    I made a guess that that was a typo, and used 1 tsp baking soda + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder & it turned out just fine, but I’m curious.

    December 29, 2009 6:17 pm
  • 20

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    November 22, 2010 11:20 am
  • 21

    My boyfriend’s aunt makes this cake for Thanksgiving. I love it, and two weeks ago made it for my blog. Only I added pear : )
    This cake is incredible, one of my favorites!

    I love your photos! I’m currently looking for a new camera, any suggestions?

    December 12, 2010 10:18 am
  • 22
    Radish said:

    Jenne – what are you currently using, what is your budget, and do you feel fine going the SLR mode?

    December 12, 2010 1:56 pm
  • 23

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  • 24

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  • 28

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