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Gingerbread Cake-does one of these recipes seem better than the other

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http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Favorite...

http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/...

In the first recipe they use hot water, what if I used hot milk or cream, what would that do?

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  1. Both recipes use hot water. Adding milk or cream would increase the fat and protine content.
    The second recipe looks like a better one to me. Black pepper and brown sugar win for me.

    1. Better is in the eye of the beholder. The allrecipes one would be a lighter, more airy cake while the second one would be dense. For gingerbread, I'd prefer the second one--it seems like it would be more flavorful and heavy, as I think of gingerbread. It would also be a lot less sweet which I'd prefer for gingerbread, too (1 cup molasses and 1/2 c white sugar vs 3/4 c molasses and 1/3 c brown sugar).

      Adding milk wouldn't change it substantially but the cream would weigh it down. If I were going to replace the water, I'd use apple cider or orange juice if you want to add an orange-ish flavor.

      1. The second recipe looks better by a pinch or two, dark brown sugar, less flour for a moister cake, and as long as your melting the butter you could brown it for some toasty nuttiness, but increase the butter by a tablespoon, to account for the loss of whey. Add some very finely diced candied ginger to your cake for extra oomph. No need for the milk or cream; although it's certainly doable, but why; gingerbread is rich enough with the addtion of spices, extra fat is not necessary. Save the cream for whipping to top the gingerbread; I can't eat it (not really) unless I have whipped cream.;-)

        PS I liked her suggestion of subbing five spice powder for some of the ginger, adds a little more depth.

        Ever see the Gramercy Park Gingerbread recipe?

        http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/12/gra...

        1. definitely not that one from Allrecipes. white sugar? butter? no thanks. really good, dense, sticky gingerbread is made with brown sugar and oil.

          the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread recipe is excellent, and a tried & true CH favorite:
          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

          21 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Yes, great minds think alike, chefj, chowser and GHG.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              ha! did you see the time stamps on our posts? not only thinking alike, but at the same time :)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Yup, and you're in a different time zone, but we were typing our responses at virtually the "same" time! The universe does come together!

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Within minutes! We were all typing the same thoughts at the same time. It's amazing how the internet can bring three people, different parts of the country, different lives together like that.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Chowser, Pear Nectar works great in Gingerbread that is what i use instead of water.
                    bushwickgirl, I also use a small dice of crystallized ginger. I have tried the Five Spice powder but found that it actually muddied the ginger flavor. I think it was the Fennel flavor that did not work for me.
                    I

                    1. re: chefj

                      Your reply about pear nectar has reminded me that one of the BEST dessserts I ever had was upside down pear gingerbread cake.

                      If anyone has it (and I know some of you do...) Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Cook Book has a great recipe for gingerbread.

                      1. re: clamscasino

                        re: Claiborne, it's not the Walnut & Ginger Cake, is it?

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          No, I think it's just gingerbread. You could add walnuts though...

                          1. re: clamscasino

                            i was just curious because when i Googled, it turned up a recipe for "Walnut and Ginger Cake" but not for a straight gingerbread cake.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              hmmn, I just looked at my book and the copyright is 1961 so maybe the recipe just isn't out there in Googleville. Tell you what, if you provide a link to the google result, I'll compare the ingredients.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                If there is enough molasses, you don't need brown sugar; white will just do fine (most brown sugar is just white with molasses added).

                1. re: paulj

                  sure it's not a necessity, but it's certainly my preference. IMO, the more molasses (and moisture) the better. you lose that little something extra with white sugar.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    +1.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      why not just an extra tablespoon of molasses? But my measurements of molasses can be off, plus or minus, by that much. I use what's convenient. I'd even use piloncillo in baking if it wasn't too much work to grate!

                      1. re: paulj

                        "I'd even use piloncillo in baking if it wasn't too much work to grate!"
                        ~~~~~~~~~
                        yum.

                        my new favorite sugar - which is easier to work with, though obviously not as rich in flavor as piloncillo - is coconut palm sugar.

                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    A question about the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread: I'm in the UK where we don't get molasses. I do have an unopened tin of black treacle (this one: http://www.britishcornershop.co.uk/pr...), and was wondering, is this the same as the 'dark molasses' in the recipe? Or is it blackstrap molasses? A google search has varying answers, and since I've never tried either blackstrap or dark molasses, I can't tell by taste.

                    1. re: tavegyl

                      I'm in the UK too and you should be able to get molasses quite easily. My local wholefood store sells a few different types.

                      I don't know if you can substitute treacle but Nigella's gingerbread recipe uses golden syrup and black treacles or molasses so I'd say it's worth a try.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        Hmm, didn't know that. Well, I'll see if anyone knows about black treacle as a substitute, or just go ahead and give it a shot -- I feel like gingerbread today and molasses isn't available in the supermarkets near me. Thanks for the tip, though!

                        1. re: tavegyl

                          I've often read that black treacle is the same thing as US molasses. As to the finer question of whether it is more like the dark or blackstrap, I don't know. At least one brand of 'dark' claims it is the concentrated cane syrup before sugar is removed, where as blackstrap is the residue left over after removing the sugar. I don't use blackstrap, though I've read that it is more bitter.

                          I've used our dark molasses in recipes for parkin, the Yorkshire oat gingerbread.

                          1. re: tavegyl

                            I always use treacle in gingerbread - whether it's a US or UK recipe - and it's fine.

                            1. re: Athena

                              Tried making it last night before I saw your reply, and can confirm that black treacle does indeed work beautifully in the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread recipe. Rich, complex and spicy. The batter seemed bitter, but it baked up beautifully. I used the variation which uses half measures of sugar. For those who think it's ridiculous to measure treacle by the cup, I used about 350g. I had some with cream whipped with brandy and some banana-mango smoothie from the fridge (one of my favourite cheats). Delicious, though a little oily. I am looking forward to seeing how the flavours have developed the next day.

                    2. Recipes don't look that different. Most of the ingredients of the Splendidtable one are 3/4 - 4/5 of the other. I prefer the heavier spicing, especially ginger.

                      1. I really recommend David Lebovitz's Fresh Ginger Cake. You can find the recipe on Epicurious.

                        1. Thanks to all of you! I have made the allrecipes recipe in the past but was looking for a moister/denser gingerbread. I'm not sure on the Grammercy tavern recipe though, don't want to taste beer in the gingerbread.

                          16 Replies
                          1. re: javaandjazz

                            I've had my eye on the Gramercy recipe but had the same feeling about the beer. I would like it but my kids wouldn't eat a chili I made w/ beer, though I couldn't taste it. I don't want to be the only one to eat it. Has anyone made it who is sensitive to the taste of beer and could you taste it?

                            1. re: chowser

                              That's funny, I used to made this gingerbread all the time with Guiness and never felt it was an overwhelming flavor.
                              I've also subbed in lighter beers, even chocolate beers, and really loved the flavor.
                              It surprises me that people object to the beer flavor here, maybe I need to make it again and retest my tastebuds.
                              With a lemon curd or apricot cream I would think your kids would love it!

                              1. re: rabaja

                                Thanks--I think I'd love it but worried about my kids who are sensitive to the taste of beer (and not something I need them to develop a fondness of, at this point!). I'm not that sensitive to it so probably wouldn't be able to tell.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  In ginger bread like this, a dark beer just adds some background complexity, mainly from the hops (which have a bitter note). The malt sweetness of beer is lost against the background of sugar and molasses.

                            2. re: javaandjazz

                              I made the Grammercy tavern recipe and hated it because of the taste of the beer. I know it gets a lot of love on Chowhound, but it was definitely not for me.

                              1. re: NE_Elaine

                                I don't like the gramercy one either; the second one looks good to me. I have also made a Laurie Colwin recipe using golden syrup instead of molasses and it is a nice change.

                              2. re: javaandjazz

                                i make the GT recipe without beer because there's no such thing as gluten-free stout! 1/2 cup seltzer/club soda plus 1/2 cup buttermilk works beautifully.

                                you can also substitute ginger beer or ginger ale...or even root beer.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  GHG, knowing your taste for less sweet, more ginger, I'm surprised you go for the "GT gingerbread" as opposed to Fleming's original Guinness Stout ginger cake (also available on Epicurious), which has less sugar and more (fresh) ginger. That recipe is perfect, IMO.

                                  I am actually surprised that other posters taste the stout in the finished cake. It doesn't taste beery at all to me, but I do think the stout enhances the spice flavors.

                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    "GHG, knowing your taste for less sweet, more ginger"
                                    ~~~~~~~~~~
                                    see, this is one of the things i love about CH - we actually pay attention to and remember each others' tastes. i guarantee you that no one in my family could tell you that same detail about my preferences!

                                    the GT recipe just happened to fly across my radar first, so i never even bothered looking at the other one...plus., when i made it i always tweaked the spices anyway so it was heavier on the ginger and not as sweet. at this point there's no use considering the Stout cake since there's no such thing as GF stout (boo). anyway, i haven't even bothered with the GT recipe since i created my Triple Ginger Molasses Cake a couple of years ago.

                                    maybe one of these days i'll try the Stout cake recipe and just sub some strong coffee and sparkling water. thanks for the suggestion :)

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Easy for me to remember peoples' particular tastes when they align with my own. I'm a sugar/spice/etc. tweaker, too.

                                2. re: javaandjazz

                                  Oh what the heck, I decided to take one for the team ;-) and tried out the splendid table recipe for you. Mind you, I substituted a loaf pan for the 8x8 square which I did not have. Because of this, I had to guess how much longer to bake - it was wet at 40 minutes, so I ended up baking for 48 minutes. It was crazy warm and dry in LA yesterday too. Even so, the result was moist, dense but not heavy, not too sweet, nice and dark and spot on spicing. It's a great recipe! One caution though - I may have interpreted the "generous 1/2 tsp of salt" a little too generously as the batter was too salty (what, you don't lick the bowl clean?), although the baked cake is only just a touch saltier than I'd like. Next time I plan on sticking to a level 1/2 tsp. Also, next round I will check for doneness at 45 minutes for my loaf pan.

                                  1. re: sweetTooth

                                    Normally, I do not put any salt in baked goods. If there is anything I hate more, it's biting into a chocolate chip cookie and tasting salt before anything else!

                                    1. re: javaandjazz

                                      A little salt will enhance the flavor of certain sweet ingredients, spices, chocolate, coffee, for example, giving the baked good more balance. Too much salt is a travesty, but I always add a little salt to whatever I'm baking. It's a personal thing, some people are sensitive to the taste of salt in sweet baked goods. For the record, 1/2 level teaspoon of table salt is not overkill in this recipe, but if you don't like it, just leave it out, it won't change the bread's chemistry.

                                      The use of the word "generous" for the measure of salt in the Splendid Table recipe is somewhat vague, and can be interpreted in different ways, with varying results.

                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                        "The use of the word "generous" for...... can be interpreted in different ways, with varying results."
                                        Yes, I was a little irked by this, especially in a baking recipe, where you cannot taste and adjust as you go along.

                                    2. re: sweetTooth

                                      @SweetTooth, if you happen to have any lemon curd handy, the sweetness & acid may help cut the salt...and it's my favorite thing to serve with gingerbread or spice cake anyway :)

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Thanks for the awesome suggestion GHG! Unfortunately, I don't have it on hand and don't have to time to whip some up for this batch of bread, but I sure will make some to go with the next batch. What a great idea!

                                  2. I'm not generally a big fan of the Silver Palate, but I do like their gingerbread recipe. It's very easy and comes out moist yet still light. Maybe you are looking for a denser cake, though. I do cut down on the sugar some, and add a bit more ginger.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: visciole

                                      Another way to make a bread/cake like this moist is include a fruit or vegetable puree. In fact you could start with a pumpkin bread recipe and crank up the molasses and ginger seasoning.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I just took Jane Grigson's gingerbread out of the oven - it calls for butter and demerara sugar, 11ozs of treacle (!) though it can be reduced to 7 if you don't want a really sticky bread (I tried that this time, will see how different it is). No boiling water, just a couple of T milk warmed with a little baking soda. It also has chopped stem ginger in it and I drizzled a little of the stem ginger syrup on the top when it was hot.

                                        I really like ginger :-)

                                        1. re: Athena

                                          where'd you draw the treacle from? :)

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Huh?

                                            1. re: Athena

                                              sorry, just an old literary allusion, from Alice's exchange with the Hatter and Dormouse. 'you could draw treacle out a treacle-well.'

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I was always so sidetracked by the Red Queen I never noticed that exchange! A treacle-well would be brilliant. Messy, but brilliant.

                                    2. I'm curious about the why and wherefore of using hot water at all? Is it strictly to make the molasses easier to work with? Since bicarb is also added to the hot water in some recipes, is this to change the acidity/pH of the molasses?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: dulce lover

                                        In the all-recipes hot water is added at the end of mixing. I image at that point the dough is quite stiff, since it just has the creamed butter/sugar, molasses and 1 egg. Hot water might stir in easier, since it will partially melt the butter and loosen the molasses.

                                        An alternative would be to add the hot water to the molasses first. I've also seen gingerbread recipes that call for heating molasses, golden syrup, and/or beer first. pH would be changed only if you include some baking soda in the heated mix.

                                        There was another thread were we debated the role of hot water in a banana bread. Some of us thought it did nothing, since the quantity was so small. Others though it was essential to 'activating' the baking soda.

                                        I'd pay close attention to 'hot water' instructions only if a good test kitchen showed that they made a difference.