My friend Bruce Aidells wrote a great book on cooking with beer (look for a used copy), and he asked me to come up with a contribution. I offered this stout gingerbread, and the recipe now makes an annual appearance on my Christmas baking list. The caramel notes in the stout work beautifully with the molasses and brown sugar. It keeps forever...but it doesn't last more than a couple of days in our house. Make it as a single cake, and it is a perfect addition to a holiday potluck. Bake it in individual mini-Bundt pans and they are terrific gifts. One tip that I have recently learned that I want to pass on: Never put a Bundt pan on a baking sheet for baking. The inner tube must get hot to bake the cake properly, and the baking sheet would block the heat.
Deep Dark Stout Gingerbread
Makes 12 servings
A holiday season never goes by that I don’t make this gingerbread at least once. The deep caramel notes of the stout complement the spices beautifully. It is a regular on my buffet tables, because its tight crumb makes it easy for guests to eat out of hand. Also, because it is firm and easy to transport, it is one of my favorite foods to make and give as a present. Serve it warm from the oven for a real treat. Sometimes I add 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger to the batter, or the grated zest of 1 orange.
o Open the stout and pour into the a measuring cup about 1 hour before making the cake so the stout can go flat. Stir it occasionally to help expel the carbonation. Stout often comes in large bottles. If you have leftover stout, cover the spout tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week. You can use the flat stout in beef stew (or make a double batch of cake!).
IMPORTANT: Do not use nonstick cooking spray to coat the pan, even if the pan is nonstick. (I should say especially if the pan is nonstick. Did you know that if you use aerosol oil spray on some nonstick products that you have broken then warranty?) The best coating method is softened butter, followed by bread crumbs. The butter and crumbs form a barrier that makes for easy umolding. I have had to throw out entire batches of cake when I have deviated from the butter/crumbs trick. Believe me!
Softened butter for the pan
2 to 3 tablespoons dried fine bread crumbs for the pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
3/4 cup flat stout, at room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly butter a 12-cup fluted tube pan. Sprinkle in the bread crumbs, and tap out the excess crumbs.
2. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, then the yolk. Beat in the molasses.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low. In three additions, beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the stout, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the batter is smooth. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a wire cake rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the cake rack. Transfer to a serving platter, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top, and serve warm. Or, cool completely and serve at room temperature. (The gingerbread can be baked up to 2 days ahead, covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.)
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