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Smitten Kitchen Gingerbread

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Smitten Kitchen Gingerbread

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Smitten Kitchen Gingerbread

I have a few things to tell you about this cake today, and none of them at the outset sound terribly upbeat, but bear with me, cheer is nigh. The first is that if you put this out in small squares, dusted with powdered sugar and in proximity to a hand-whisked bowl of lightly sweetened schlag at a packed tree-trimming party, one by one, the handsome revelers will fall upon them, take a big delighted bite, and then you might out of the corner of your eye note that cheer melting from faces into a brief pang of surprise as they realize that no, that was not a brownie, but an extremely dark and intense square of gingerbread cake. Oopsies? The second is that yes, I know, I already have a gingerbread cake recipe on this site — what I still consider the Greatest Gingerbread of Them All — and that is still the one I make for every Christmas dinner I’m invited to. However, if there could be one bad thing about it, it would be that on a rare occasion, usually because it sat in the pan longer than it was supposed to or the baking winds were not in our favor that day, it does not like to come out of the bundt pan in one piece. Sometimes it comes out in several. Sometimes it leaves half the cake in the pan. Sometimes you’re trying to get it out of the pan a single hour before you have to be at a Christmas Eve dinner an hour twenty minutes away and you… you cry. I think this would be a good time to state for the record that The Smitten Kitchen does not condone crying over cake. The Smitten Kitchen wants you to know that it’s going to be okay, that cake is delicious whether it’s in one piece or seventeen irregular ones that have been tossed in a bowl with whipped cream because of course you meant for it to be a trifle, sheesh. The Smitten Kitchen wants you to know that in all cases where cake brings one to the brink of tears, the cake is to blame, the cake is actually kind of a jerk, and you should just pour yourself a glass of ‘nog, go outside and catch some snowflakes on your tongue, and come back inside and have a good laugh about it because even if it’s not funny yet, it will be one day so you may as well pre-set the record straight. Needless to say, these Smitten Kitchen “teachings” were not, in fact, in my head at the time so I didn’t remember any of this. What I did remember, however, was a Gingerbread Snacking Cake I’d spotted from Martha Stewart that week, a simpler cake, one served in little squares, one baked with a parchment paper liner to ensure that it always releases from the pan, and I suspected that I could throw it together in very little time. I melted the butter instead of softening and beating it. I fudged the steps so it was almost a one-bowl cake. It barely took 30 minutes to bake a half-recipe. And what came out of the oven was incredible — almost all of the lovely intensity and complexity of the great and grand Gramercy gingerbread in fewer steps with fewer beads of sweat on one’s forehead. And I have since then kept this recipe in my back pocket, not just for December emergencies and big December holidays, but for December itself, or anytime you crave a deeply spiced gingerbread cake but want a forgiving recipe with minimal fuss. It goes well with mulled wine, with lazy family afternoons and unfurrowed brows, like everything important should.
smitten kitchen gingerbread 1

Smitten Kitchen Gingerbread

And so I made her gingerbread and took a bite of it and it tasted, uh, alarming. I mean, not terrible but not the mild, middle-of-the-road gingerbread I’d expected from the patron saint of Nutley, New Jersey. I pulled up Twitter and asked “If I just made gingerbread so spicy my eyes watered a bit, does that mean I did it right or wrong?” and learned that Martha had actually helped me knock the ball out of the park. Apparently — and you’ve probably figured out by now how little “real” gingerbread I’ve experienced in my 34 years — this is the way it is done. A chewy, sturdy cookie that could be used for anything from a gingerbread house to gingerbread men to snowflakes. A spicy kick that lingers. A subtle sweetness that is harmonized by a sugary finish.
smitten kitchen gingerbread 2

Smitten Kitchen Gingerbread

Hi Deb, I didn’t think it needed to be said, but apparently I was wrong. I love seeing updates of your son. I remember staring at how cute the first photo of him was, and calling my girlfriend over so she too could gush over him. So keep them coming, I plan to enjoy little glimpses into his childhood for years to come. Now for what I’m here for: I love gingerbread cookies, but I have never made them before. I bake all the time, cakes, cookies, cake pops, cupcakes; you name it I bake it. However, gingerbread men and houses are my little sisters thing. They make them every year and I have never felt the need to horn in on their territory. This year though my girlfriend has asked me to make some gingerbread cookie dough so we can make some gingerbread cats to decorate with sanding sugars from William-Sonoma and royal icing. I couldn’t possibly say no to her and now this recipe is in the top running. I want a DARK gingerbread but I don’t want it to be too spicy as my girlfriend doesn’t like things that are too hot. So, if by chance you or someone else knows how I can get a dark cookie without it being too spicy; I would be greatly appreciative. Thanks!
smitten kitchen gingerbread 3

Smitten Kitchen Gingerbread

I made gingerbread from a Martha Stewart Living magazine recipe years ago and I’ve been searching for it ever since. The gingerbread had a tablespoon or so of bacon grease in the recipe. It gave the gingerbread the most wonderful hint of smokiness that went perfectly with the ginger. If anyone still has that bacony gingerbread recipe, I’d sure love to have it. Also, find a spectacular lemon curd (like Trader Joe’s) and dip your gingerbread cookies! Yum!
smitten kitchen gingerbread 4

Smitten Kitchen Gingerbread

Needless to say, these Smitten Kitchen “teachings” were not, in fact, in my head at the time so I didn’t remember any of this. What I did remember, however, was a Gingerbread Snacking Cake I’d spotted from Martha Stewart that week, a simpler cake, one served in little squares, one baked with a parchment paper liner to ensure that it always releases from the pan, and I suspected that I could throw it together in very little time. I melted the butter instead of softening and beating it. I fudged the steps so it was almost a one-bowl cake. It barely took 30 minutes to bake a half-recipe. And what came out of the oven was incredible — almost all of the lovely intensity and complexity of the great and grand Gramercy gingerbread in fewer steps with fewer beads of sweat on one’s forehead. And I have since then kept this recipe in my back pocket, not just for December emergencies and big December holidays, but for December itself, or anytime you crave a deeply spiced gingerbread cake but want a forgiving recipe with minimal fuss. It goes well with mulled wine, with lazy family afternoons and unfurrowed brows, like everything important should.
smitten kitchen gingerbread 5

we just had the gramercy gingerbread for my husband’s birthday, and will have some left for Christmas..I have always wondered if it could be baked ina 9×13 pan instead of a Bundt.?? you are the only other person I have encountered who also had a “second best” gingerbread..but your #2 looks better than my #2..( the buttermilk gingerbread from the NY Times Large Type cookbook).. my family all love gingery spicy, cakes and cookies and might just top off a night of gingerbread with a few molasses crinkles and a glass of cold milk. Good Cheer to you and yours!
smitten kitchen gingerbread 6

I make that other, much exalted, gingerbread all the time, and I completely agree that it’s a high wire act every darn time. I tried to make it (3 times! 3 times!) in my sister’s kitchen, and it fell each time (same model Bundt pan, even). Evidently it can only be made here in my kitchen. So this looks like a welcome sometimes substitute. I also wonder if this one would be worth an experiment. Years ago, at Mustards Grill up in Napa Valley, I had a dessert I’m still thinking about after all these years – gingerbread with a hot lemon glaze sort of thing poured all over it. I thought gingerbread and lemon would be horrible together, but it was a revelation. Off to the kitchen! Thanks for the recipe.

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