Wednesday, December 7, 2011

70/99: English Gingerbread Cake

Well, Ladies and Gents, I am over half way through finals: 3 down and 2 to go.  I studied all day yesterday for my English final that was scheduled for today. Then last night, my roommate asked me if I was ready for my Social Stratification final scheduled for today since I have that class at the same time that she has another class.  I told her that she was confused--my English final was scheduled for today and my Social Stratification final was scheduled for Thursday.

Well, the good news is that she wasn't mistaken.  The bad news is that I was. I had studied all day long for the wrong final.

I complained for a couple minutes before collecting myself.  I made a pot of coffee and went to my room to study.  The coffee definitely didn't work.  Since I get my best studying done in the morning I resolved to go straight to bed so that I could be rested and ready to study hard in the morning.  I set 5 alarms to go off every 10 minutes starting at 6:30.

And guess what happened? I slept through them.

That's when I decided that my final was doomed and gave up. Don't get me wrong, I studied for a few hours at Lusa and then decided that going into my final cheerfully was more important than stressing over pages of information that probably weren't going to stick in my head anyway. What's done is done.

So I went home and made a cake.

Tonight was the Ladies Christmas party for my Church here in Oxford.  I signed up about a month ago to bring a dessert and this past week I was reminded of my commitment. Looking through Rose's Heavenly Cakes, I decided that I needed one that was quick (I did have a final in 2 hours after all), festive, and delicious. I finally decided on the gingerbread because it seemed to fit my requirements.

----Side note: just in case you're wondering, (or if you're my parents and are freaking out reading this because I should have been studying) I did excellently on my exam.  Out of 83 questions I think I only doubted myself on about 3.-----

The only problem that I ran into was that I accidentally misread the recipe and put too much baking soda in the cake. Long story short: I tripled the baking soda.

Last semester a friend of mine, John Denver, who teaches classes at Mia Cucina in Chattanooga told me about his baking experiences when he was in culinary school.  He said that one time he accidentally put in way too much baking soda and the whole cake exploded.  After that he swore off baking. 

But with that story in mind, my baking soda mistake really freaked me out.  I had visions of a 5th grade science project volcano erupting in my oven.  It wouldn't be catastrophic but I really didn't want to have to clean my oven later on.  Just to be safe, I decided to turn to google for some help.  I looked it up and found that if you were to substitute them then you would triple the amount of baking powder to get baking soda.  So if 1 teaspoon baking soda = 3 teaspoons of baking powder then I technically just have one extra teaspoon rather than two.  I finally omitted the baking powder and prayed over the extra teaspoon of baking soda.

In the end, it turned out to be delicious.  I might even keep the recipe with the baking soda mistake though I don't know how much of a difference it actually made.  It was incredibly moist and the lemon butter glaze gave it the perfect edge.

I had a few ladies ask me for the recipe at the Christmas party and I promised to share.  Since Jodi Rhoden said that it was perfectly legal to post recipes from books online as long as it's just one or two rather than the whole book, I decided that this would be my one recipe to share since it's wonderful for the holidays.  I use the metric system when I bake so I've also included those measurements for anyone else who prefers it:

Cake Batter Ingredients:
8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter (65-75 degrees F)
1 1/4 cups (425 grams) golden syrup or light corn syrup
1/4 cup, firmly packed (60 grams) dark brown sugar, preferable Muscovado
1 heaping tablespoon (40 grams) orange marmalade
2 large eggs, at room temperature (100 grams)
2/3 cup (160 grams) whole milk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (115 grams) cake flour
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (115 grams) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

Lemon Butter Syrup ingredients
3 tablespoons of sugar (38 grams)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (31 grams)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (65-75 degrees F) (28 grams)


Special Equipment:
One 8 by 2 inch square cake pan or 9 by 2 inch round pan, wrapped with a cake strip, bottom coated with shortening, topped with a parchment square (or round), then coated with baking spray with flour.  (Since I was in a hurry I didn't do the shortening and parchment part and it turned out just fine)

Preheat the oven:
20 minutes before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F/160C

Mix the Liquid Ingredients:
In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the butter, golden syrup, sugar, and marmalade over medium low heat until melted and uniform in color.  Set aside uncovered until just barely warm, about 20 minutes.  Whisk in the eggs and milk.

Make the batter:
In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt.  Add the butter mixture, stirring with a large silicone spatula or spoon just until smooth and the consistency of  thick soup.  Using the silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan.


Bake the Cake
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the corner comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center.  The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

Cool the cake:
Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  While the cake is cooling, make the syrup.

Lemon Butter Syrup:

In a small pan, stir together sugar, lemon juice, and butter.  Heat over medium-low heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.

Brush half the syrup over the top of the cake.  Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with non-stick cooking spray.  Brush the bottom with the remaining syrup.  To prevent splitting, reinvert the cake onto a serving plate so that the top is up.  For extra moistness, cover the cake with plastic wrap while still hot and allow it to cool.  (Rose says to wrap airtight for 24 hours before serving but I definitely didn't do that and it was still great)

After putting the syrup on it, it needed some holiday cheer so I set out to make the powdered sugar Christmas trees as rose suggested in a note.  After drawing a tree on wax paper, I cut out my design and then placed it on top of a piece of cake.  After sprinkling the powdered sugar on top, I carefully removed the stencil and voila!

I thought they turned out to be pretty cute.

But back to studying.  Only 2 left and then I'm home for the holidays!

Rose's Heavenly Cakes, English Gingerbread Cake, page 75


  1. These are just gorgeous. So perfect for this time of year. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. the powdered sugar trees are so perfect for this cake! what a great way to de-stress over studying for the wrong final.