Spicy Stout Gingerbread
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 3tablespoons dried fine bread crumbs for the pan
  • 2 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 3/4cup 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. (The dried bread crumbs are your best insurance against a stuck cake, so don’t substitute flour!)
  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 thirds, 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 and let cool completely. 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 3 days ahead, covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.)