tuesdays with dorie / baking with julia: gingerbread baby cakes
I’m definitely more of a cook than a baker. Exercising and expanding my baking horizons is one of the reasons I’m participating in the latest incarnation of Tuesdays with Dorie. This week’s recipe for Gingerbread Baby Cakes comes from Johanne Killeen. Who can resist a simple everyday cake like this one, especially when it comes in a seemingly personal size as these 4-inch darlings do?
I have admired Johanne Killeen and her husband George Germon for years. My first introduction to them was in the early 1990’s. They had just published their book Cucina Simpatica. They were sitting at a tiny folding table outside an equally tiny cookbook shop in Porter Square, Cambridge, offering samples of food, bruschetta, I think, and signing their book. Years later, I had a wonderful meal at Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island. They also ran a restaurant in Boston for a few years where I had lunch. Many years after that initial introduction, I finally bought their book and have enjoyed an assortment of their recipes in the comfort of my own home.
Because I had no occasion to serve dessert to 8 this week, I decided to make a half batch. When I was setting up to bake, I discovered that I owned only 2 4-inch (springform) pans, not the four I thought I had, so I ended up making a very small batch of just two little cakes (one quarter of the recipe).
I like that this recipe uses typical pantry items that I always have on hand. One deterrent to spontaneous cake is that cake recipes often call for milk, not a usual item in my fridge. This is a milkless cake, making it even more perfect to have in my arsenal of quick sweets to whip up on a whim.
I used my stand mixer. With such a small quantity of batter, I had to beat things a bit longer to combine everything thoroughly, but overall it was super easy. Butter and brown sugar are creamed together. Then the egg is added. Freshly grated ginger and molasses smooth out the batter. Finally, the dry ingredients, including a hefty dose of ground ginger and freshly ground pepper are folded in.
My cakes were still visibly wobbly in the middle after 25 minutes, but after thirty, they seemed springy and slightly cracked. I treated myself to a late-night dessert of warm gingerbread sprinkled with powdered sugar. The cake was slightly too moist in the very center, so next time I would let the cakes bake for a just few more minutes.
The baby gingerbreads really hit the spot. The warm temperature combined with the warm and spicy flavors were delicious and perfect for the colder season. The cakes also get high marks for their cuteness factor. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for some more tiny cake pans to add to my inventory so I can make a larger batch to share.
To read about other bakers’ baby cakes, follow their links here.