Serves 10 to 12
Gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, even the smell of ginger signals Christmas is upon us. Made from sugars and spices brought back from the Middle East by soldiers returning from the Crusades, gingerbread first appeared in central Europe in the Middle Ages. Monks baked gingerbread for religious celebrations, and the first gingerbread man is said to have originated in the court of Queen Elizabeth I who gave important visitors portraits made of ginger-flavored dough. During the nineteenth century, this sweet and spicy cake, generally made with treacle (molasses), became primarily associated with Christmas. This beautiful cake can be served “as is” with a dollop of whipped cream or cut into cubes and used as the base of an old-fashioned trifle. For a festive touch, garnish the cake with sugared cranberries and rosemary recipe follows).
6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Sugared cranberries and rosemary, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with baking spray with flour.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in molasses
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three additions, alternating with water; mix until combined. Transfer to prepared pan.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; loosen cake from pan and invert onto rack. Let cool completely.
SUGARED CRANBERRIES AND ROSEMARY: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until sugar dissolves; remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup cranberries; stir to coat in syrup. With a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a wire rack set over a baking sheet or paper towels to drain excess syrup. Let dry for 30 to 40 minutes. Roll in additional sugar; return to rack to dry completely. Repeat with rosemary sprigs. Store in a single layer in an airtight tin; refrigerate for up to 1 week.