15 March 2007
Guinness Stout Ginger Cake
I never really learned how to drink beer. In fact, shocking though it may be, I’ve very seldom had it. Please, allow me to explain: Growing up, we were a strictly wine-drinking household, with my mother barely branching out to a kir or a glass of Lillet on a special occaision. Later, my educational experience was more conservatory and classes than college and kegs. So I never really learned about beer, which certainly saved me some teenage embarassments, but may have also given me a (hopefully false) reputation as either a snob or a teetotaler.
When P. and I first were dating, I remember going to a bar and having no idea what to order. Of course, I wanted to look cool and sophisticated, but not too cool to be aloof, all of which I was worried would be conveyed in my drink order. Thankfully, I’m a little more comfortable ordering these days, and a lot less worried about impressing anyone. Over the years, P., as a Scotsman, has tried to introduce me to beer, carefully perusing shelves of fancy imports and unusual local brews. He sweetly asks if I’ll share a bubbly raspberry flavored one, and I’ll admit he’s had mild success, but I think it’s just that I’m not all that interested in drinking in the first place. What can I say, I’m a cheap date.
I once told P. that one of my favorite cakes was made using Guinness, which naturally he approved of, but then I told him how there was always about 1/2 cup of leftover beer in the can, and I usually ended up pouring it down the drain. “Now listen to me,” he said in a very serious tone, “promise me you’ll never tell that story to any of my family.” Luckily, these days I have him around take care of any leftovers. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I thought of this wonderfully moist and spicy gingerbread bundt, and what with the weather still wintery around here, it was just the right thing. This is one of my all time favorite cakes, and has won me many a friend and a recipe request over the years, as you'll see in the note below. We’re in New York and will be heading over to the parade Saturday, and who knows, maybe I’ll even have a Guinness myself.
Guinness Stout Ginger Cake
This recipe comes from the fabulous Claudia Fleming, whose myriad of recipes have never let me down, but even among those, this one’s a knockout. It certainly has a star on my own Cake Walk of Fame. It is a very moist cake, so don’t try dusting it with powdered sugar like I did, it will just absorb it. This is pretty good on it’s own, but if anything it calls out for a good scoop of ice cream as accompaniement.
1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup molasses
1/2 tbl baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbl ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbl grated, peeled fresh gingerroot
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter & flour a 10-cup Bundt pan, or 2 loaf pans.
2. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the baking soda (you need a big pan because this will foam up a lot). Allow to sit until the foam dissipates.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs and both sugars. Whisk in the oil.
4. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg & cardamom.
5. Combine the stout mixture with the egg mixture, then whisk this liquid into the flour mixture, half at a time. Add the fresh ginger and stir to combine.
6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Do not open the oven until the gingerbread is almost done or the center may fall slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
* You can make a chocolate variation, like this gorgeous one over at Smitten Kitchen, by adding 1/2 cup cocoa to the batter and increasing the oil by 2 tablespoons.