Gingerbread Baby Cakes

GingerbreadBabyCakes_MacroMention Gingerbread Men and like many my thoughts will turn to the Christmas season.  Baked into a round or square cake pan, the association with winter holidays fades for me.  Nonetheless, December finds the TWDers baking Gingerbread Baby Cakes.  These are definitely not your mother’s gingerbread (my mom’s came from a box courtesy of Betty Crocker).  In Johanne Killeen’s version, gingerbread takes the form of individual butter cakes featuring fresh and ground ginger, plenty of molasses, as well as a few ingredients you might not expect.  Our host for this week is Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories.  Should you want to bake along, you will find the recipe on her blog or in the pages of Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Other TWD bakers’ efforts are linked here.

Johanne Killeen, sometimes accompanied by her husband George Germon, were frequent guests of Julia Child in her later PBS series, including Baking With Julia and In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs.  Both are trained artists; George taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, a not-too-shabby art school in the smallest of these United States.  Johanne’s background as a photographer is reflected by the balance of flavors, colors, and textures in her desserts.

GingerbreadBabyCakes_DryIngredients

GingerbreadBabyCakes_CreamedButter

GingerbreadBabyCakes_AfterMolasses

As most butter cakes generally do, Gingerbread Baby Cakes start with assembling the dry ingredients, then proceed to creaming together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  At this point whole eggs are incorporated one-at-a-time into the butter-sugar mixture.  The butter mixture tends to break a bit.  I found it did so even further when adding the molasses.  Thankfully, the batter becomes uniform once more as the dry ingredients are incorporated.  As per the instructions, I folded the dry ingredients by hand; next time I would be tempted to use the stand mixer on it’s lowest setting to accomplish this task.

GingerbreadBabyCakes_FivePansAs written the recipe is portioned to yield eight 4″ diameter individual cakes.  I “only” have four such pans in my arsenal, so after filling the 4″ pans, I poured the remaining batter into a 7″ round.  For the baby cake pans, I brushed the sides and bottom with melted butter as directed.  For a bit of insurance, I lined the bottom of the 7″ pan with buttered parchment as well.

Possibly owing to the sheet pan, my baking times was a little longer than written — around 30 minutes for the 4″ cakes, and somewhat longer for the 7″ cake.  While baking may seem like more of an exact science than general cookery, the truth is that times and temperatures are guidelines at best.  I judged doneness by look, touch, and a well-placed toothpick.

After a short stint cooling in their pans, I removed inverted the cakes, flipping them right side up to rest on parchment lined racks.  Each of the baby cakes save one, left a bit of cake in the pan.  With the buttered parchment lining, the 7″ cake released perfectly.  On that basis I’ll be sure to line every cake with parchment next time.

The resulting cakes are definitely full of flavor.  One baby cake went to my local library.  A librarian correctly identified both the coffee and cocoa.  Being well-stocked with cookbooks, she pulled Baking With Julia from the shelf to consult the recipe.  For my tastes, these cakes were a little too strong with molasses flavor.  I attribute that to my use of Brer Rabbit “Full Flavor” molasses.  Milder molasses would have been more palatable, alas “Full Flavor” was all my local store carried.  A generous dollop of sweetened whipped cream is almost mandatory.

GingerbreadBabyCakes_platedThe next time I make these cakes, I’ll substitute honey, cane syrup, or another liquid sweetener for some of the molasses.  Likewise, I’ll cut back the espresso powder, and perhaps bump the ground ginger up a tad.  An encore may be as soon as this month.  Last year the brothers and their wives received homemade fudge and cream caramel.  This year, a few ginger bread cakes may find their way under the tree.

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14 Responses to Gingerbread Baby Cakes

  1. SandraM says:

    Your baby cake looks lovely with a big dollop of whipped cream. I agree this was a strong flavoured cake. I think next time I would also substitute something else for the molasses.

  2. Lola says:

    You have a NICE collection of pans! I enjoyed this gingerbread but it seems more like molasses cake to me. My baby cakes stuck too; thank goodness for powdered sugar!

  3. Karen K says:

    Very nice! I did use parchment on all of mine and it worked out very well. Glad to find another cake pan person!!

  4. Howard.Goble says:

    Ginger bread is good. Bigger gingerbreads must be even better. These look good!

    Howard Goble
    949-721-6312 Direct

  5. Marilyn Freese says:

    Sounds so good. A very nostalgic baked good for the holiday. I’m glad you ” loved a librarian” by giving him/her a baby cake. Nice touch and I’m sure the brothers families will enjoy something this good ! Happy Holidays!

    • Paul says:

      We’ll see. I had a near riot on my hands when I made Toasted Almond & Candied Cherry Ice Cream, instead of the usual strawberry or vanilla. If you’re feeling ambitious, you might try making the gingerbread cake. Definitely opt for mellower molasses, though.

  6. Cher says:

    A whole family of ginger cakes…
    I am impressed that the library was so well stocked with cookbooks.

    • Paul says:

      surfasonline.com should have all sizes of Magic Lamp pans; I shop in person when I’m in Southern California. They are surprisingly inexpensive, geared as they are toward restaurant supply.

  7. Cathleen says:

    These cakes definitely needed whipped cream to tone them down a bit. They can benefit from using way less molasses – even the mild kind.

    • Cathleen says:

      I only subbed 1/2 cup so there was no discerning difference; still I could only taste molasses. I really like the flavor of Lyle’s and think it would make for a great substitution for most if not all of the molasses. Your pear-gingerbread cake sounds good. I’ll also keep a look out for the Steen’s you mentioned.

  8. barbaramais says:

    The dad might like the baby cakes; definitely not the mother.

  9. Sunshinex2 says:

    Agreed with the molasses. And kudos to your librarian for picking out those flavors. Mine were lost under a sea of blackstrap molasses….

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