This week, the treats are all gingery, and it’s because of this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, gingebread baby cakes, made with lots and lots of ginger. Naturally.
I can’t say that I really love ginger. I can say that I am amicable towards it. I like gingerbread (hard or soft), and I like ginger cookies. I like ginger ale. I am not overly fond of savory dishes that have ginger in it, but I can tolerate it. The pickled ginger that comes with sushi? Ew. I may love sushi and sashimi, but I have yet to develop a taste for either wasabi or pickled ginger.
Aside from ginger ale, I usually only eat gingery things during the winter. It’s a warm, cozy spice, which makes it perfect for winter. Usually, for Christmas, I make ginger cookies (which will be making an appearance later this week), but I haven’t made gingerbread in years. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve ever made a soft gingerbread. If I have, it would have been back in college and probably not very successful.
So while I was more than willing to make these gingerbread cakes, I wasn’t entirely sure how much I would appreciate them. Early reports suggested that they have a lot of flavor to them (and they do). Once I saw that the recipe calls for both fresh and ground ginger, I began to worry that the ginger might be too overwhelming for me. Even the smell of fresh ginger can be too much for me sometimes.
But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I was determined to get these cakes made, even though I kept putting them off until I finally had to do them yesterday or risk having nothing at all to post today.
Fortunately, they are incredibly easy to make. They do require the use of an electric mixer, but I suppose that’s better than having my arm fall off from trying to stir butter and brown sugar into light and airy fluffiness.
What intrigued me most about this recipe as the inclusion of black pepper. I liked that. I felt like that would be a nice foil to the ginger, adding a kick while at the same time keeping the ginger from getting out of control. And I know some people worried about the amount of molasses. A lot of molasses went into these baby cakes. But I liked that too, again because of how it would go with the ginger. In these little cakes, lack of flavor is not going to be a problem.
In fact, it could be that they have too much in the way of flavor. These little babies are strong. They are maxed out – not just with ginger but with the molasses too. Instant coffee goes into the batter, and that really ramps up all the flavor. These were supposed to be baked in baby cake pans, which I do not have (and could not find), so I baked them as cupcakes. Perfect size. After three or four bites, you don’t need any more. You’re all gingered out.
I’ll be honest. By themselves, these little cakes are overpowering. They’ve got some real bite to them. They really need something to mellow them out. Whipped cream would probably work, but for the first time in two months, I don’t have any heavy cream hanging out in the fridge (even though it’s not supposed to be there, it keeps showing up for some reason). I did, however, have an abundance of lemons, and a couple of the Dorie bakers suggested that something lemony would go nicely with these little cakes. So, while dinner was baking in the oven, I whipped up some lemon curd.
[On a side note, it's incredibly gratifying to be able to say that. Two years ago, I wouldn't have ever considered making lemon curd myself. I'm so glad that's changed, because homemade lemon curd - any homemade citrus curd, actually - should be in everybody's life.]
I had no idea that gingerbread and lemon would go so well together.
Seriously, I wasn’t sure if I liked these cakes. They were okay, but almost too strong to really fall in with. But as soon as I took a bite of moist, spicy cake paired with that sweet-tart creamy curd, I changed my mind. These two were meant to be together. Really, this is a win for lemon curd, because it further proves how awesome this stuff is. I’m hoping to make an orange curd later this month, for a cupcake I’m planning for New Year’s. Citrus curd is just one of those things that needs to be a staple.
But, I should be talking about gingerbread baby cakes. All in all, not too bad. Very nice for the holiday season. I cannot imagine making them any other time of the year. They do make cute little cakes, and they are wonderfully moist and sticky from all that molasses. These are a very dark, very adult Yuletide treat; I probably would have hated them as a kid. Now, I can’t help but love the way they look, so dark and sensual with that bright yellow promise of sunshine dolloped on top. Definitely a treat appropriate for the coming Winter Solstice. And so wonderfully decadent inside. This is enough to warm anyone’s spirits.
Our lovely host this week was Karen’s Kitchen Stories, and her gingerbread looks absolutely divine with that dollop of sweet whipped cream. She’s got the recipe if you want to give it a shot yourself. And, of course, check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site to see how the other bakers liked these spicy little cakes. Happy baking!