Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

Let me tell you something that no one tells you:

College is actually School.


Everyone talks about "games" and "parties" and "really awesome people" and maybe "study abroad" or "pedigreed professors."

But in talking about college no one actually EVER, I repeat, EVER talked about going to class and homework etc.

It's missing from the "You're a senior in highschool so you better go to college" dialogue.

Not that I'm unhappy or anything, because I think I'm pretty happy, despite the fact that my dorm room does not have a sink.
I am going to complain about this forever.
And it takes me, like, 15 minutes to pee, because I have to walk all the way down the hall to the bathroom, which is like, a half a mile away.
And I have to pee, like, all the time.
Small bladder.
That's me.
Also. The food here, is not stellar. Did you know that Bland is actually a flavor? Like Salty or Sweet or even Umami, if you want to get technical. No. Bland is the flavor that no one talks about. Those little bottles of Tabasco Sauce are my friend.

Anyways, I still live close to home, so I went home one day, and I baked a cake. Baking again was almost as fun as my first college party. But I don't think I want to talk about that here.


Chocolate Ginger Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

NB: Dorie suggests icing, which I was far too lazy to make, and it was wonderful without. If you so desire the instructions for icing are below. But it really was good without. 

  • For the cake:
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate—2 ounces melted and cooled, 4 ounces finely chopped
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger in syrup (available in Asian markets), optional

  • For the icing:
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon strong coffee
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and put it on a lined baking sheet. (Make sure your pan measures a true 9-x-9-inches; see above.)

To make the cake: 
Put the fresh ginger and sugar in a small bowl, stir and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking soda and spices together.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together at medium speed until they are light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Don't worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage. Pour in the molasses and beat until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate along with the sugared ginger. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two (begin and end with the dry ingredients), mixing the batter only as much as needed to blend the ingredients. Fold in the chopped chocolate and the ginger in syrup, if you're using it. Pour the batter into the pan (remember, if your pan is small, do not fill it to the top). Bake about 40 minutes, or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Don't be concerned if the cake has domed and cracked—it will settle down as it cools. Transfer the cake to a rack, cool for 10 minutes, then unmold the cake. Turn right side up and cool to room temperature before icing. (The edges of the cake might be quite brown, but don't fret—you can trim them after you ice the cake.)

To make the icing: 
Fit a bowl over a pan of simmering water, put the chocolate and coffee in the bowl and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl and, using a small whisk, stir in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Sift the confectioners' sugar over the chocolate and stir it in. Transfer the bowl to a counter and let the icing sit for about 10 minutes.Put the gingerbread, still on the rack, on a piece of wax paper or foil (the drip-catcher). Pour the icing onto the center of the cake and use a long metal spatula to spread the icing evenly over the top. Allow the icing to set for 30 minutes (you can hurry it along by chilling the cake briefly). If the edges of the cake are overbaked, now's the time to trim them. Then cut the cake into 9 even pieces.

NB: Gingerbread is a good keeper. You can wrap it and store it at room temperature for about 3 days or freeze it, iced and all, for up to 2 months. 

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