The previous post told first of this attempt to bake a gingerbread cake for the Christmas dinner. All was successful and only waits for the herd of in-laws to dig in. The ladies will bring so many tasty dishes I feared being pummeled by old Brussels Sprouts for attempting to enter their cooking world...again...following the bread pudding of Thanksgiving which was also cooked secretly. The safe course is to stay out of the kitchen while the ladies cook or prepare the dinner to serve. It depends on the woman but you should take the warning to heart and if she is really busy in the kitchen and talking to herself as she works, you better stay far, far away. If you NEED to be in the kitchen, feel your way carefully and with stealth.
The safe course for me was to claim the kitchen on Thursday, while my wife was at her job, cooking to my own delight and cleaning up so all was better than when I started. If the cake totally messed up, no one really needed to know about it. I remember a chocolate cake that fell so flat it looked like brownies...and was served as sticky brownies...successfully. If the gingerbread failed, what happened here would stay here...no intention of serving gingerbread brownies.
Finally cooking a cake again after 20 years was not really the challenge expected. The recipe was easy to follow and the cake promises to be delicious. (See previous post for a link to the official recipe.) The Gingerbread Cake and zesty lemon sauce will be a surprise at the dinner.
Recipe comments will be added to the photos as rereading reveals a need.
A hand held "plane" grater is used to prepare the ginger root. Enough ginger was grated enough to tightly fill a 1 TBS measure.
Liquid ingredients of molasses, honey and water are stirred in a sauce pan with 1 cup dark brown sugar. This is heated on low to melt the butter and blend all into the rich mixture it is. Eggs and milk are added after this mixture has cooled.
Once heat was reached, the butter melted fairly quickly. All was stirred regularly In the meantime, the dry ingredients were gently sifted, blended and sat aside until called for.
Poured into a mixing bowl to cool, the golden molasses, honey, dark brown sugar and butter mixture took the appearance of dichroic glass with deep reflective layers to play with the light. This was distracting play for a moment and I understand better why the women don't want me in the kitchen. The mix should be just warm to the touch prior to adding eggs and milk. While this cools, turn on the oven to bake at 325ºF.
The recipe calls for 3 large eggs and 1/2 cup of 2% milk.The eggs are added first, one at a time, followed with the milk. The mixer was used to stir all neatly together but it may be done just as well by hand.
If using an electric mixer, run at a slow speed to blend and not froth the mixture. The ginger root was added in separated portions to prevent clumping and allow even distribution.
Add the flour mix in 4 parts, gently blending. You may prefer to fold the flour into the liquid by hand; if so, use long strokes and fold until mixed nicely. It is not necessary to remove every lump to the very end.
This time a bundt pan was used ( the kind with a stem in the middle). Grease the pan lightly with vegetable shortening and fully sprinkle with flour. Turn the pan upside down and tap to remove excess flour. Now you are ready to pour the batter into the pan. The oven should be close to the right temperature at this point. Oh, I do wish we had a gas range and oven!
The pan goes on a rack in the center of the oven. It will bake for 45 minutes and in the meantime, there is something to...
This is clean up...a necessary part of the baking task and reality in the kitchen.
Thomas Haynes is a photographer working out of Clinton, Tennessee, a city just north of Knoxville. His photography is often of a fine arts direction but as in this post, his love of nature takes him again to the Clinch River Raptor Center, a rehabilitation and educational not-for-profit organization.. Visit Thomas and see more of his photography at Facebook
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