There are a lot of flavors that I associate with the holidays, one of which is gingerbread. It contains a myriad of different spices and flavors that combine together to create a very complex taste. I found this particular recipe while browsing Food52’s site and knew I had to make it. The recipe has some unique ingredients, such as dry mustard and beer, that contribute to the depth of flavors. It also contains chocolate both in and on top of the cake, so you really can’t go wrong. ;-)
The recipe does contain beer, but all alcohol gets cooked out during the baking process. If you’re concerned about using beer (or are just too lazy to buy some), you can easily substitute water in its place. I highly recommend sticking with the beer, though, as it really does amp the flavor. The recipe calls for a Porter, Ale or any similar dark brew. There are a lot of gingerbread cake recipes that call for Guinness as well, but I opted for a Porter. More specifically, I used Black Butte Porter as it had a 97 rating by some beer reviewer. ;-) You only use 3/4 cup and will therefore have leftover beer, so you might as well purchase a kind you’ll actually want to drink!
This recipe originally derives from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Elisa Huntsman, which is a book I bought just a few months ago on amazon for $34. Just one month later, used hardcovers were going for double that and new were going for $200+. The book is out-of-print and apparently now considered a rare book, so man, am I glad I purchased it when I did!! :) You will no doubt see many more blog entries from that book over the next few months.
This cake is very easy to make and is simply mixed by hand in a large bowl. Some melted chocolate is added to some of the batter and then swirled together. I just used a skewer and did circular motions around the cake once to create the marble effect.
The original book recipe uses a chocolate buttercream frosting on top, while the Food52 revision calls for a chocolate glaze. Since I was doing this in a tube pan, I felt the glaze would be the easiest and look the best. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I do not own a decorative bundt pan, despite being certain I owned one. So, the sides of my cake look a bit raggedy, but I assure you it does not take away from the flavor at all! :)
Once the cake is fully cooled, place it on a cooling rack. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and then place the rack on top. This will help collect any glaze that falls off the cake. Pour the melted chocolate glaze on top and then cool in the fridge until it’s set. I wanted the cake to be completely covered, but you could also simply drizzle it on top if you don’t want it to have too much chocolate. I’m not sure there’s such a thing as too much chocolate, though. ;-)
I personally think the cake tastes best at room temp, so I would remove it from the fridge a good 30-45 minutes before serving. Be sure to use a hot knife when cutting it. This cake is moist and rich and full of flavor, and it would be a perfect addition to your holiday menu! Enjoy!
2/3 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cups dark beer (See note)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Grease and flour a large (10-12 cup capacity) bundt or tube pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, molasses, eggs and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder and baking soda.
3. Pour half the flour mixture on top of the eggs and fold the batter a few times. Add the buttermilk and fold until smooth. Pour the rest of the flour mixture on top, fold a few times and then add the beer. Fold until completely mixed. Remove 2 cups of batter and set aside; pour the remaining batter into the prepared pan.
4. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and 1 teaspoon oil on low; stir until smooth. Stir or fold into reserved cake batter.
5. Pour chocolate batter on top and use a skewer to swirl the two together. Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack to cool.
6. To make the glaze, combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a medium bowl; set aside. Heat the cream in a small saucepan on medium just until it starts to boil. Pour over the chocolate and allow to sit untouched for 5 minutes. Then, gently stir the mixture until it is smooth. This will take a minute or two, and a whisk can be used to gently whisk it together. Place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to set up the chocolate, and then serve the cake at room temperature.
Guinness, Porter, Ale or any other dark beer would be perfect for this cake.