Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake

First of all. Try. This.  Cake.

I was suspicious at first, but I wanted to bring something a little different to our Thanksgiving celebration.

And Lynne Rossetto Kasper, of The Splendid Table, recommended it.

So I made it. 

Then I tried it.

I do declare, the complexity of flavors in this cake explode in your mouth!  It is THAT good. It has all the ooey-gooey texture, fudginess and look of chocolate – dark and intense – but all the dark, bitter sweetness of the molasses.  Other spices happily contribute to this molasses melody and every once in a while, their notes shine through.

If you like the spicy, autumny goodness of gingersnaps, you will love this cake…and the smooth, rich and slightly tangy cream cheese frosting is perfect slathered atop this brunette bomb shell.  I used pre-made cream cheese frosting, but please don’t tell anyone…it will be our little secret.  Throw some walnuts on top for a bit of nutty earthiness.

As the name suggests, the main ingredient in this cake is molasses. I chose Brer Rabbit, full-flavor, unsulphured molasses.  This variety is more concentrated and has a darker color and richer flavor than lighter molasses and that’s what gives this cake its dark, chocolate-like color.  This natural, gluten-free sweetener is made from unsulfured juice of sun-ripened sugarcane…no preservatives, artificial flavors or colors. Molasses is an excellent source of Calcium and Magnesium and a good source of Potassium.  Back in the day, molasses – originally exported to the U. S. to make rum – was the go-to sweetener because it was cheaper than refined sugar.  Refined sugar became more reasonably priced after WW1 and most American bakers converted.    Now, molasses is pricier than sugar, but you could not possibly make this cake this good by somehow omitting it.
Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake
From: the

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) unsulphured dark or unsulphured blackstrap molasses
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons espresso powder (The original recipe says adding this is optional...nix the optional because it adds a nice flavor and dimension to the cake.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups whole milk

Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter or grease a 10-inch springform cake pan.

Place the chunks of butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Pour in the molasses and whisk in the brown sugar and white sugar. Whisk as the butter melts. When the butter has melted and is completely liquid, and the sugar has dissolved and is no longer grainy, give it a final stir and turn off the heat. Set the pan aside to cool. Don’t be concerned if the two don’t look completely combined.

Use a clean dry whisk to combine the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and espresso powder in a large bowl.

Whisk the vanilla, eggs, and milk into the saucepan with the molasses and melted butter. When the liquid mixture is completely combined, pour it slowly into the bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk thoroughly to combine, making sure there are no lumps.

Pour the thick batter into the prepared springform pan. Bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 20 or 30 minutes, then run a thin, flexible knife around the inside of the pan to help the cakes edges release. Remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on a cooling rack before icing.   You can also make this cake in two loaf pans and bake for 40-45 minutes.   Ice the cake with your favorite cream cheese frosting. 

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