Sometimes when cake recipes call for icing, I omit it. I think the cake should be good enough on its own. A word of advice to anyone thinking about making this cake, do not skip the lemon icing. The lemon icing takes what is a solid gingerbread cake and makes it a marvelous gingerbread cake. The spice from the gingerbread and the sour-sweet in the icing are just wonderful together.
And what could be more perfect for the holidays than a marvelous gingerbread cake?
This cake was pretty easy to make. Start with your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. And inhale all that deliciousness.
Starting with dry ingredients seems obvious, but sometimes I run across muffin or cake recipes that don't have you start with them. But, if you start with your wet ingredients, then all your measuring cups and spoons get wet and difficult to use. So, lesson learned: always start with your dry ingredients... even if that means not following the recipe exactly (gasp!).
Next, get your wet ingredients going. As ever with butter-cakes, it is crucial that you let your butter and eggs come up to room temperature. What makes a cake fluffy is air bubbles that are incorporated into the butter when you cream it with the sugar. And your air-incorporation is severely limited if your butter is cold. You want your eggs at room temperature so when you add them you don't deflate any of the air bubbles you incorporated into the butter. If you have a thermometer around, you know the butter is ready when it is around 70 degrees. Once the butter is at room temperature, add it and the brown sugar into a bowl.
And beat it for three minutes, at least. Get as many air bubbles going as you can. I (seriously) use a timer.
At the end, it should be light and fluffy.
Add in your eggs, one at a time,
and beat well after each addition.
Now, for some really exciting ingredients! Add in the zest of one lemon, but save the lemon (it is going into the to-die-for-icing).
And add in molasses. And start getting excited because molasses means gingerbread is on its way.
Mix that all up.
For the next part, you are going to alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the milk. You will want to start with the dry ingredients and end with the dry ingredients. You can beat this part with a hand mixer, but I like to stir it in. So get your assembly line together.
Add in the dry ingredients. Stir that up.
Add in the milk. Stir that up.
And continue alternating, until it is all done.
Pour the delicious batter into a greased and floured cake pan. And pop it in the oven.
A quick note about baking cakes in non-stick pans: if you are using a non-stick cake pan, lower the temperature by 25 degrees and bake for the length of time indicated in the directions. Non-stick pans get hotter than regular pans, so if you don't reduce the temperature, you run the risk of overbaking your cake.
You know it's done when a toothpick comes out clean.
Let it rest in the pan, and in the meantime, get brave... you have to flip the cake out of the pan. I like to put a plate over the cake and quickly flip it over. The quicker you flip it over, the less time you have to be nervous.
Once I turned the cake out this way, I flipped it again. I wanted a nice rounded top. To do this, once I had flipped the cake out of the pan onto a plate, I put another plate on the bottom of the cake. I then flipped the cake onto the second plate. And shockingly, nothing went wrong. Once it is out of the pan, transfer it to a wire rack, and let it cool completely.
Now, for this icing. You know, the one I was gushing over a few moments ago? It is so easy and it makes this cake worth writing about. Start by sifting your powdered sugar.
Then juice the lemon that you used the zest from. (And feel good that you have used just about every part of that lemon!)
Add the lemon juice into the powdered sugar.
Beat that up, and now we're talking.
Pour the icing into the middle of the cake.
Then spread the icing all the way to the edges.
Taking the cake to a party? Don't have a cake carrier? Try this: carry it in a cardboard box. Is your box too big? Secure the plate with folded up pieces of paper (and yes, these are copies of Plato). Cut down the side flaps, and there you have it, a fairly secure cake carrier (just don't take corners too quick!).
Whenever and wherever you have this cake...
get ready to have a slice of lemon-iced gingerbread cake wish you happy holidays.
Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Icing (from joyofbaking.com)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger (heaping)
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (the recipe didn't call for this, but I couldn't resist)
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
1 cup milk
For the lemon icing:
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2-2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees** and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour a 9 x 2 inch cake pan.*** Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the lemon zest and molasses and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients and milk, alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.**** Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing cake from pan. Let cool completely and then frost with the lemon icing.
For lemon icing: mix together the sifted confectioners' sugar and lemon juice until smooth. (The icing should be thick but still spreadable). Pour the icing onto the center of the cake and spread with an offset spatula. Some of the icing will drip down the sides of the cake.
This cake will keep for several days at room temperature.
*I used 2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
**If you are using a non-stick pan, lower the temperature by 25 degrees.
***I used a 9 x 1 1/2 cake pan and had no problems.
****40 minutes was perfect in my oven.