I had determined during the Christmas frenzy that there was little or no point in posting any of my modest efforts - the whole "coals to Newcastle" thing - and then I remembered gingerbread cake. I made some several times during the month of December, each time vowing to post the recipe and each time being defeated by an utter lack of time. A sorry excuse I know, but there you are. I offer it now because eating gingerbread cake should not be confined to the festive season. When I was a child it was a favourite winter treat in our house, served with a generous helping of whipped cream and some of our Nanking Cherry jelly to make it pretty. I think I must have been married before I realized that most people ate it once a year if that (such a shame!)
Gingerbread cake is comfort food dessert. Simple, homely, warm, and absolutely unpretentious it is the food equivalent of a warm throw. In my mind the picture that always accompanies thoughts of gingerbread cake is softly falling snow seen through the window with a fire burning brightly in our big stone fireplace, nary a Christmas tree in sight. If you try it I think you will see the merits of regular cold-weather gingerbread consumption. I cannot understand why the comforting warmth of cinnamon-y, spicy delights must cruelly stop dead on January 1 - January is the coldest, dreariest month of the year and openly begs for every morsel of warmth we can scrounge. Right now most of North America would heartily agree!
For years I have made the same recipe for gingerbread cake that my mother made but this year I wanted to make a gingerbread cake that everyone in the family could enjoy - in other words, gluten-free and hopefully refined sugar-free. The refined sugar-free wish was a good idea and the gluten-free option was better than any gingerbread that came before. I added three kinds of ginger (ground, candied, and fresh), used Alice Medrich's method (in a food processor), and made the best gingerbread of my life. No hyperbole. Just the plain, simple, homely truth.
(adapted from the recipe we made at home)
2 cups whole grain gluten-free flour mix*
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
4" piece of fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup of finely chopped candied ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup hot water
Cut the fresh ginger into 1/4"slices and add to the bowl of a food processor, pulse until finely minced. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor bowl and process for 10 seconds. Scrape the bowl and process again for 5 seconds. The batter will be thin. Pour into a 9x9" baking pan that has been buttered.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, until the cake springs back when you touch it lightly.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with a nice pillow of fresh whipped cream and a pretty spoonful of your favourite jelly on top. (We like to split the cake and add a little more cream between the layers.)
*If you prefer to use regular unbleached white flour simply substitute it cup for cup.