It's almost Halloween and I have the perfect treat, just in time. This one was both a trick and a treat actually. It's the first recipe I've tried from San Francisco pastry chef Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts. And it is the best gingerbread I have ever tasted. Ever. I'm not a rah-rah-rah gingerbread kind of person. I'll have gingerbread pancakes once a year or so and that's about it. But I love ginger. And this recipe was so intriguing...candied ginger, ground ginger and the smoky, slightly lingering warmth of chipotle. I had to try it.
And try it I did. Again and again. The recipe makes one small loaf (about half height of a regular loaf pan) but calls for a tablespoon of baking powder. That's tablespoon, not teaspoon. I tried it several times and got the same result each time, a collapsed middle.
But the taste and the texture haunted me. It's the lightest, yet most delicately flavorful gingerbread I've ever tasted. Not dry and dense and gunky like most gingerbreads. And not black as tar from too much molasses. It's light yet still moist and warmly flavorful. But not in an overpowering way. More like an "I can't stop eating it" way. My husband, the devotee of all things chocolate, even said, "this is how gingerbread is supposed to taste." He was right. The candied ginger bits make little taste sensations in your mouth. This is good stuff.
So I don't know if that measurement was a mistake or what. Using a whole tablespoon of baking powder, mine rose and rose and rose and then collapsed. So I knocked the baking powder down to a teaspoon and a half. That seemed to do the trick. I still had to cook it about 6-7 minutes longer than it said, and the middle was slightly more moist than the edges, but no more collapse.
This is a beautiful cake to cut into slices and then into cubes. Keep in mind that it is its shining best when warm. So serve it straight out of the oven (with a little butter) or if making ahead, rewarm it in the toaster oven or microwave. Contrast it's warmth with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and roasted pears and you'll be in heaven. That's if it lasts long enough to serve that way. We ate almost an entire loaf straight out of the oven. Yeah, it's that good. It would be amazing with tea also. Ever so civilized on a chilly day. In the book, Falkner serves it with pear sorbet, pomegranate gel and icing "shards." I'd love to try it that way, but I can't imagine it lasting long enough for me to make those other elements. Maybe I'll get a chance to try it that way at Citizen Cake or Orson next time I'm in San Francisco.
Happy tricks and treats!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon candied/crystallized ginger, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (I used turbinado)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsulfured blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons honey or agave
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch loaf pan. (Much easier to remove if you also add a wide strip of parchment paper and butter that too. Use it to line your pan and let it's sides overlap to act as a sling later.)
Melt butter. Add chipotle powder and stir together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, candied ginger, ground ginger, salt and cinnamon.
In a small/medium bowl, whisk together egg and oil. Add sugars, molasses and agave/honey and whisk until just combined. Stir in the buttermilk and the butter with chipotle.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir or whisk until just combined. Pour into pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick/tester comes out clean. Don't test it until the very end though, you don't want to loose heat and risk a collapse. Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, the use parchment to lift loaf out of pan. If you don't have parchment, place a plate or platter over the loaf pan and invert it. Once out of the pan, turn it right side up. Serve warm.
Makes one small loaf.
Adapted from Demolition Desserts by Elizabeth Falkner.