25 November, 2011

Ginger stout cake

Ginger stout cake

The result of googling to find a way of using up the rather flat Guinness left over from making the Christmas pudding. Yes, I could have drunk it, but that wouldn’t have been enterprising enough. Anyway, my search threw up at least a dozen variations of this ginger cake, all based on an original from the Gramercy Tavern, whatever that is. Since I like ginger cake and I had all of the ingredients except molasses, the decision was made.

But first, the usual trip to Diana’s Desserts to convert all those dratted American cup measurements. I started out with the version of the recipe at Smitten Kitchen, then reeled in horror when I found that my conversions resulted in 220 g of flour and 650 g of sugar. Beurkh, as we say in France. “No wonder Americans are so fat,” I ungraciously muttered. I bet Deb isn’t fat at all. Although I have tangled with an over-sweet cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen before.

Anyway, one of the comments on the Smitten Kitchen post led me to Epicurious where there was a version of the recipe posted by its originator, Claudia Fleming. For the same amount of flour and eggs, half as much sugar. Phew.

Taking due note of the many comments about spending half an hour scraping caramelised batter off the oven floor, I was slightly nervous as I poured the alarmingly liquid batter into the tin. It was more like pancake batter than cake mixture. Even though the batter was well below the top of the tin, I took the precaution of putting it on a baking tray to ease cleanup. But in fact it was fine and cooked in the time advertised. The cake turns out very moist with a rather coarse crumb, and — dare I say it — it could have been a little bit sweeter. Don’t stint on the spices, it needs them. I also have a sneaking feeling that some sliced pears arranged in the bottom of the tin to make an upside-down cake could be rather good, in which case you could skip the icing. Or you could serve it with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

220 ml Guinness or other stout
220 ml black treacle or dark molasses (not blackstrap), or 150 g dark soft brown sugar and 50 ml water
1/2 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
3 large eggs
100 g granulated sugar
120 g dark soft brown sugar
150 ml vegetable oil
220 g plain flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon grated root ginger

Icing:
icing sugar
lemon juice

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses (or brown sugar and water if you don’t have any molasses) and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda. Allow to sit until the foam dissipates. Note, you do need a LARGE pan. I may not have needed to clean the oven but I did have to swiftly wipe up sticky, foaming beer from the hob. Mind you, I’m not quite sure what the point of this procedure is, other than some kind of magic. Won’t the bicarb be totally inactive by the time you put it in the oven?

Anyway, preheat the oven to 170 C. Butter a 22 x 15 cm tin, line the bottom and sides with baking parchment, and grease the parchment. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and all the sugar. Whisk in the oil. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, and fresh ginger. Combine the cooled stout mixture with the egg mixture, then whisk this liquid into the flour mixture, half at a time.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 1 hour, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Don’t open the oven until the cake is almost done, or the centre may sink. Cool in the tin for at least half an hour, then finish cooling on a wire rack. When cold, store in a tin. Ideally keep for at least 24 hours before eating; the flavour definitely improves with keeping.

I made a simple icing by whisking together icing sugar and a little lemon juice to make a glaze. But you could make some cream cheese frosting instead. Or just eat it plain!

I’m making this a second entry for Jacqueline’s bookmarked recipes challenge.

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