Gingerbread New Year

December 30th, 2009  |  18 Comments

gingerbread-final

Have you ever tried to edit your blog photos during the day? A sunny day? I’m sitting in front of my computer, which is situated on my desk in front of a bank of windows, wishing they made visors for laptops. The glare is burning my retinas, not to mention I can barely see the all-important gingerbread. I’m trying to situate my torso so I block out some of the rays, wrapping my arm around the screen as though someone is trying to cheat off me. It’s not working. Is it stupid to wear sunglasses indoors, inside your own apartment? Can’t bring myself to do it. True, I picked this apartment because it gets fat beams of light, but right now I’m contemplating moving this whole operation to the back of the closet. Where it’s dark. Where I can agonize properly over the quality of the photos.

gingerbread-on-platter

These blog photos are a source of anxiety for me. The frustrations build when I have an idea of how they should look and then see what I actually snapped. I don’t quite know how to get them to where I want them. Yes, I guess they are good enough and get the point across, but I’m a big baby. I want them the way I want them, and it has to be now, now, now. As you can see, I’m on the verge of throwing a tantrum. I want to be as impressive as Helen, or Aran, or Vera. Granted, they all had a learning curve, and the improvements must’ve come gradually. I will have to be more patient. So, as a New Year’s resolution, besides more patience, I’m going to go on a photo-improvement mission. This will include, ahem, reading the manual. In fact, I have several hopes and dreams for this blog.

Time to make a few blog resolutions:

1. Learn more about my camera, as described above. Get better at photography.
2. Post more. At least 5 times a month. 
3. Get on that dang Twitter.
4. Update “Links” page with some of my recent favorites. I keep meaning to do it, but the heels are dragging. Lazing about seems to be my preferred use of time.
5. Work out some recipes that readers have requested. These include croissants and coconut cake, among others.
6. Read through two educational pastry books.
7. Do a chocolate series. 
8. Get some ads up. I know this is of no benefit to you, dear reader, but it would be nice if this blog could at least pay for itself. 
9. Participate in at least 10 Daring Bakers challenges this year. Though this is already their requirement, I missed two of the five I was eligible for. Not the mark of a model participant.

Speaking of Daring Bakers, I skipped the gingerbread house. I apologize, but it held zero appeal to me. These houses are for gawking at. You ooh and ahh and then walk away. They’re not really meant for devouring. I’m not excited to sit in front of the tv with a big bowl of gingerbread house. And if I can’t get excited about eating it, I can’t get excited about making it. But gingerbread cake, now that’s worth whipping out a bowl for. All that lip-smacking spice and cakey stickiness is a fine way to ring in the New Year. To dress it up, I served it with orange segments tossed in a little sugar and some sweetened whipped cream.

Have a wonderous New Year brimming with excess, smiles and life! Wishing all of you a joy-filled 2010.

Gingerbread Cake

adapted from the glorious The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming
makes 8 servings

knob of gingerroot
1 cup (237 ml) Guinness stout (you can also use water or coffee, but this beer does add a lot of heady flavor.)
1 cup (237) molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda 
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar 
1/2 cup (100 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (178 ml) grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (7 g) ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 g) baking powder
3/4 teaspoons (1 gram) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (not even a gram. 1/2 gram? a pinch?) ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon (1/2 gram? a pinch?) grated nutmeg 
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) ground cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. The big line-up:

gingerbread-ingredients

 

2. Grab a 6-Cup Bundt Pan and grease it in any way you like. You can rub some butter over the insides, but I like to use non-stick cooking spray.

gingerbread-spray-bundt

 

3. Peel your ginger. Cut away the skin with a knife or use a vegetable peeler.

gingerbread-peel-ginger

 

Then grate it on a microplane. (Or if you’re awash in gadgets and have a Ginger Grater, now’s the time. It traps all the flavorful juices.)

gingerbread-grate-ginger

 

gingerbread-grated-ginger

Keep going until you have 1 tablespoon.

 

4. Pour the Guinness and molasses into a medium sized pot, bigger than you think you need, because there will be some heavy duty foaming action. Bring to a boil over high heat.

gingerbread-boil-liquids

 

Consume the remaining Guinness while you wait for the boil.

gingerbread-boiling-liquids

 

Turn off the heat and pour in the baking soda.

gingerbread-add-baking-soda

 

Stir it in and watch it all bubble to the top, like a 6th grade volcano experiment.

gingerbread-foams-up

Let it sit until the foam settles, about 5 minutes.

 

5. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a large bowl, and add the dark brown sugar and granulated sugar.

gingerbread-sugar-eggs

 

Whisk ‘em up and add the grated fresh ginger.

gingerbread-whisk-and-add-ginger

 

6. Then whisk in the oil.

gingerbread-pour-oil

 

7. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and all the spices (ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.)

gingerbread-all-dry

 

Give it a good stir.

gingerbread-mix-dry

 

8. Now add the now-calm Guinness mixture to the egg mixture and whisk it up.

gingerbread-liquid-into-liquid

 

9. At this point, you should have one bowl of wet ingredients and one bowl of dry ingredients. The dry stuff goes into the wet stuff. Start with half…

gingerbread-dry-into-liquid

 

…then incorporate the rest. It ends up being a very loose batter.

gingerbread-wet-batter

 

10. Bake! Should take about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Mine took 50 minutes.

gingerbread-bake

 

When a toothpick inserted into middle of the cakiest part comes out clean, it’s ready. The top should also be springy.

gingerbread-springy

 

Baked! Let it cool and invert onto the most party-worthy platter you’ve got.

gingerbread-baked

 

gingerbread-on-platter

Gingerbread Cake
adapted from the glorious The Last Course by Claudia Fleming
makes 8 servings

1 cup (237 ml) Guinness stout (you can also use water or coffee, but this beer does add a lot of heady flavor.)
1 cup (237) molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda 
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar 
1/2 cup (100 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup (178 ml) grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (7 g) ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 g) baking powder
3/4 teaspoons (1 gram) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (not even a gram. 1/2 gram? a pinch?) ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon (1/2 gram? a pinch?) grated nutmeg 
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) ground cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grab a 6-Cup Bundt Pan and grease it in any way you like. You can rub some butter over the insides, but I like to use non-stick cooking spray.

2. Pour the Guinness and molasses into a medium sized pot, bigger than you think you need, because there will be some heavy duty foaming action. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Turn off the heat and pour in the baking soda. Stir it in and watch it all bubble to the top, like a 6th grade volcano experiment. Let it sit until the foam settles, about 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a large bowl, and add the dark brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk ‘em up and add the grated fresh ginger. Then whisk in the oil.

5. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and all the spices (ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.) Give it all a good stir.

6. Now add the now-calm Guinness mixture to the egg mixture and whisk it up.

7. At this point, you should have one bowl of wet ingredients and one bowl of dry ingredients. The dry stuff goes into the wet stuff. Start with half, then incorporate the rest. It ends up being a very loose batter.

8. Bake! Should take about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Mine took 50 minutes.

9. When a toothpick inserted into middle of the cakiest part comes out clean, it’s ready. The top should also be springy.

10. Let it cool and invert onto the most party-worthy platter you’ve got.






18 Responses to “Gingerbread New Year”

  1. Michelle says:

    You are way too hard on yourself. These pics are wonderful, as always!

  2. I am with you on the photography front. I wish I was so much better. But I think it’s mostly practise. Everyone starts somewhere. I definitely have a goal to improve my photography this year, too.

    But in saying that, I do love your photographs. You sure have a good eye!

    I would love for you to tackle croissants. An enemy of mine. Please, please, pretty please?

    Here’s to much more baking in 2010. Have a happy one.

  3. Mrs Ergül says:

    happy new year to you Irina! Thanks for being such tremendous help!

  4. Deanna says:

    If you saw some of my early-blogging photos, you’d be dang proud of yourself! We made a gingerbread house last year, stored it in the closet, pulled it out this year and it looks good as new! Only edible gingerbread men from now on! And Twitter is overrated… Happy New Year!

  5. aileen says:

    This looks so delicious and if I have everything in the house, I think I’ll make it tonight after work. One tip – peeling ginger, for me anyway, is easiest with a teaspoon. Just scrape the thin skin right off.

  6. Christina says:

    This looks so yummy, and your resolutions are great. Maybe I should try to do something similar…and actually make plans to keep them! :)

  7. Memoria says:

    I think your photos are fantastic already. This gingerbread cake looks yummy. I didn’t do the challenge this month either mostly for the same reasons you mentioned. I actually did make the dough and wasted 9 cups of flour, but who knows, I may pull out the dough sooner or later and make something out of it just for the heck of it.

    Happy New Year!!!

  8. Tracy says:

    Ooh, I made this with roasted pears for Christmas Eve after seeing both on SmittenKitchen! Delicious! That version, however, did not use freshly-grated ginger (I wish you’d posted this a week earlier!). I used to make a gingerbread cake with fresh ginger from Annie Somerville’s “Fields of Greens.” And poached cranberries. Luscious.

    Your photos are luscious, too. I was first drawn here by something I saw on Tastespotting, and I come back because your teaching style is very accessible and I love the way you document each step. (I have a hard time cooking and taking pictures at the same time — missing steps, forgetting to photograph the final product before it is devoured, etc…. )

    But resolving to improve is admirable, and you could certainly do worse than emulate Tartelette, Canelle et Vanille or Baking Obsession. MattBites and Delicious Days are two other photo favorites.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with in 2010! (Yes, please! to Resolution #2!)

    Happy New Year!

  9. Happy New Year, Irina. Your food photography is gorgeous. I wouldn’t change it a bit. Best wishes and can’t wait to drool on more of your delicious desserts this year…

  10. oops sorry I’m French… I meant your desserts make me drool; I don’t want to drool on your food :P

  11. Allyson says:

    I definitely have to try this recipe. I love spice! This looks so yummy!

    As for the photography, I only wish my photos could look as good as yours. I am still learning (maybe I need a better camera, too?) and I can’t say I have the best kitchen environment and lighting for taking gorgeous photos.

    I even say this having professional photoshop and design skills, too.

  12. deeba says:

    Of course your pictures are already gorgeous. You are really hard on yourself! Ans yes, you must join twitter…it’s fun!! This is a beautiful cake, and I love my microplaner too!!

  13. Your photography is so so good, but ofcourse there is ALWAYS room for improvement! I admire your pictures, and love your posts too! They are always helpful! Great resolutions – would love to see you on Twitter!

  14. Sook says:

    Gingerbread is perfect for this season! Looks so yummy!

  15. Jelli says:

    I have the same glare issues when editing my bloggy photos during the day. My lovely little apartment has loads of windows (the only reason we agreed to the rent hike this year) that keep me from really knowing if my photo editing has gone well until nightfall. Thanks for this recipe. I love gingerbread, even if the holidays have come and gone. Can’t wait to see what you have in store. P.S. I’m boycotting Twitter for no other reason that the hype drives me nuts.

  16. Amy says:

    I have the same glare issues when editing my bloggy photos during the day. My lovely little apartment has loads of windows (the only reason we agreed to the rent hike this year) that keep me from really knowing if my photo editing has gone well until nightfall. Thanks for this recipe. I love gingerbread, even if the holidays have come and gone. Can’t wait to see what you have in store. P.S. I’m boycotting Twitter for no other reason that the hype drives me nuts.

  17. Steve says:

    I have the same glare issues when editing my bloggy photos during the day. My lovely little apartment has loads of windows (the only reason we agreed to the rent hike this year) that keep me from really knowing if my photo editing has gone well until nightfall. Thanks for this recipe. I love gingerbread, even if the holidays have come and gone. Can’t wait to see what you have in store. P.S. I’m boycotting Twitter for no other reason that the hype drives me nuts.

  18. mbe says:

    Love the picture and the Guiness! Must try this recipe.

Post a Comment

Your E-Mail will be kept private. * = required fields.