Gingerbread Cake, with Lemon Whipped Topping
I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of times, my days run together. I lose track of time. I typically have Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off from work. I figure out all sorts of things to do on my days off, to make the most of the free time, and to make sure I do all the things I want to do. Or at least all the things I want to do in the realm of possibilities. Well, one of the things I enjoy doing with my free time (not to mention Mondays off, as well), is to set up dinner dates – of sorts – with The Fellow’s™ cousins who live up the road from us. We get together at their house (which is far more child-proof than ours will ever be) and the wife usually makes dinner and I provide dessert. Sometimes it’s the other way around, but this time, I was bringing sweets.
Except, oh shit, it’s Wednesday night and I haven’t done a damn thing for dessert! And I just got called into work at the last minute. Luckily it was a 12pm – 4pm shift, so it’s not like I had to be up at the asscrack of dawn, but I had planned on whipping something up during the day instead of being forced into it on Wednesday night.
With no clue what I should do for dessert, I started thinking about the holidays. The last time we got together, I made something pumpkin-y, ’cause, y’know, it was fall. I mean, I guess technically it still is fall, but once the snow hits the ground, it’s winter in my mind. I thought about gingerbread. I didn’t want to make cookies. I have a very bad track record with gingerbread cookies. I think I’ve mentioned how I’ve consistently managed to forget one ingredient any time I make them. Even with notes galore of what goes into them, I still fail it up. A friend suggested I make something with chocolate. Cake came to mind, though chocolate was not sounding appealing at all. Especially because I didn’t want to make a buttercream frosting. We’re running low on butter, and quite frankly, I’m not making another Costco run any time soon. If I could avoid a buttercream, I would. Plus, did I mention chocolate didn’t sound all that great anyway?
I ended up looking for a quickie recipe for “gingerbread cake”. Of course a million, zillion results showed up in mere seconds and the first one that popped out at me that looked half way decent (and I had all the ingredients for) was from Bon Appétit website. Gingerbread cake with a homemade whipped cream. I could do this. The only thing I didn’t have was lemon curd, but I sure had enough lemons for juice and zest!
I actually hesitated before making this recipe. Gingerbread and lemon? Was this doable? Would they taste okay? The comments on the page were mixed, in that a couple liked it, and a couple bitched about not knowing what size of pan to put this in. I tried registering for the site so I could comment to those wondering what size of pan (an 8″ or 9″ round, depending on how thick you like your cake), but something went bork in the code and I gave up. Back to the matter at hand though: would gingerbread and lemon play nice? I figured I had no other ideas up my sleeves, and that BA wouldn’t publish something that was crap, so I threw caution to the wind, broke out my molasses and my heavy cream and went to town.
Actually, I broke out the heavy cream the following morning when I whipped up the topping before work.
This was such a huge success. Everyone went back for seconds (which is saying something considering the cousins made us a very hearty turkey chili and cornbread for dinner). I never once thought in my entire life that these two flavors would meld in such a way to make a light, tasty dessert that had people running back for more. I think what I liked most about it was how the gingerbread cake was actually quite dense – not dense like a flourless chocolate cake, just not light and fluffy like a regular cake – and how the whipped cream, with its little bit of vanilla and lot a bit of lemon juice and zest created this mind-blowing warm concoction. Even after a couple of days in the refrigerator, it was still great. In fact, the flavors were even better, if I’m completely honest. Like homemade soup that sits in the fridge overnight and all the veggies soak up all the flavors. Mmm-mm, good.
Gingerbread Cake, with Lemon Whipped Topping
source: Bon Appetit [Gingerbread Cake]
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup mild-flavored molasses
1 large egg
1 cup chilled heavy cream
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup store-bought lemon curd
2 – 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated lemon zest
1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8″ or 9″ round cake pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and spray again.
2. Whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
3. Cut up butter into 1/2″ pieces. Place in the bottom of a heat resistant bowl. Boil the 1/2 cup of water and pour over the butter, stirring fast to melt the butter and mix it well with the water. Add the brown sugar, molasses, and egg to the butter-water mixture. Slowly pour wet mixture into the dry mixture bowl. Beat together until completely blended. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until a fork inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set out on a rack until completely cool.
To prepare the topping:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer*, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, lemon juice, extract, and about 1 Tablespoon of lemon zest. Beat on medium speed until firm peaks form. Can adjust vanilla, powdered sugar, and lemon juice amounts to tailor to your tastes.
2. Spread over cool cake and sprinkle the topping with more lemon zest.
*If you lack a stand mixer, this can be done with a whisk and a medium sized bowl. It just takes some arm power and a few extra minutes.