Tonight is the second night of high tea. Or maybe this is just regular old pick-me-up 4:00 tea since it is highly questionable to serve cake as a main course at dinnertime. I will make the kids eat at least 2 little sandwiches first though. I figure when I’m parenting alone, all bets are off. I can do what I want.
Despite having a lot to do and having Martin out of town, I decided to make my own cake. I really like to make cake and unless I make one for dinner I can hardly write about it on a dinner blog. This is a fabulous cake in a sturdy sort of way. Plus, it has blackstrap molasses in it and as everyone knows, molasses is full of iron and iron is good for you. So in some way that cancels out the 1/2 lb of butter and the cup of brown sugar and the honey, right? Anyway, here’s the cake – one of my favorites. It’s good for after school or with a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon. Good for breakfast or, in fact, for dinner. A blob of lightly sweetened whipped cream is recommended and traditional.
Black Sticky Gingerbread – 10 minutes work, tops. 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours in the oven
This recipe is from one of my all time favorite books: In The Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley. This book has never failed me. The Quince and Dried Cherry Bread Pudding and the Chocolate Mandarin Tart are outstanding. Ms. Daley is a wonderful baker and a very engaging writer. One caveat: I had In the Sweet Kitchen for 3 years before I tried any of the recipes because half of the nearly 700 pages are reference materials – all for baking! That kind of threw me off. One of the great things about this cake is that it is completely unnecessary to haul out the stand mixer. Even a hand mixer would be overdoing it. What you want here, is a wooden spoon.
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
- 3/4 cup flavorful honey
- 1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1 packed tbsp grated fresh ginger root
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream to serve
- Take the eggs out of the refrigerator and set them in a bowl on the counter (this is so they come to room temperature – I always forget to do this)
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 9″ square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper with a 2″ overhang on either side. That way you can take the cake out of the pan easily for serving.
- In a saucepan, combine the butter, molasses, honey and brown sugar. Place over low heat. Stir until butter is melted (no need to boil or anything) and transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool down.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.
- When the molasses mixture is barely warm, whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Add the milk and stir. Fold in the dry ingredients in 4 additions – using big long strokes. The batter will be quite lumpy but there should be no white streaks of flour.
- Pour the batter into the square pan and bake for 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hours. The top should be springy and a cake tester should come out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and then, using the parchment, lift the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
This cake is also wonderful because it keeps! For 4 days well wrapped on the counter and up to a week well-wrapped in the fridge. Don’t forget the whipped cream.
8:15 pm. Everyone is asleep in their beds, except me, of course. It’s time for a little confession. I may have baked that ginger cake for myself – if I am really honest. It is a wonderful cake. The kids were good sports about it, but I could tell. They didn’t like it that much.