My copy of Joy of Cooking was given to me by my father, who I suspect got it at William James, one of the best used book stores I've ever been in. The previous owner was in the habit of making small exes in pencil next to certain recipes. I wasn't sure if (s)he was simply marking off the recipes (s)he'd tried or if they meant something more than that. There was one such "X" next to the gingerbread recipe. Having baked the gingerbread, with the addition of a little cocoa powder, I can now say that the exes are reserved for those recipes that bear repeating.
It's a simple cake, a quick cake, a seemingly fool-proof cake. It bakes well at any size--I made half a dozen small heart cakes, a 6-inch round cake, and a loaf cake out of one batch of batter. It is moist and fluffy and gingery and if you don't have quite enough honey or molasses it doesn't seem to mind.
Chocolate Ginger Cake with Orange Buttercream
adapted from The Joy of Cooking
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and allowed to cool
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 cups pastry flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3 Tbs. cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup light molasses
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 Tbs. orange zest
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. soft butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tbs. milk
- 1/2 tsp. orange extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour the pans you intend to use and set aside (the recipe was intended for a 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan).
- In a large bowl combine the melted butter, sugar, and egg and beat well.
- Sift the flour into a medium bowl and add to it the baking soda, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Mix to combine.
- In a quart measuring pitcher, combine the molasses, honey, hot water, and zest.
- Add the flour mixture and honey/molasses mixture alternately to the butter mixture blending well after each addition.
- Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If baking all the batter in one pan this will take about an hour. Allow to cool slightly in the pan and, when you see the edges of the cake shrinking away from the pan, turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- For the buttercream: place all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until pale and spreadable.
Leave out the cocoa for a delicious gingerbread.
Since I didn't have as much honey or molasses as the recipe called for, my cake turned out pleasantly not too sweet. The butter cream, then, wasn't gold on the lily, but a nice contrast. I can also see serving this cake un-iced, warmed, with a generous dollop of whipped cream.