This week’s TWD recipe heralds the beginning of the holiday baking season, at least for us. Anything involving gingerbread is a definite favorite in our house, invoking fond memories of baking with Mom and Oma – three generations in the kitchen, gathered around the table, cooking and baking together. Albeit a very rare occasion, made possible only during our not so frequent visits to Germany.
Instead of its namesake, today’s recipe reminded us more of the British “treacle cake”, served on bonfire night, than the typical gingerbread, or German Lebkuchen, that we are familiar with. Treacle cake, to the best of our knowledge, in addition to the liberal use of ginger, both fresh and dried, is made with other spices such as nutmeg and cloves, but otherwise is almost identical to this gingerbread cake.
For anyone wishing to make this cake, the precise recipe can be found in Baking with Julia on page 247-248. Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories, is the host for this recipe and has the original directions and ingredients listed on her website. Please also check out the contributions from the other members of our group by checking this link.
Naturally, our contribution is entirely gluten free with the following substitutions. Instead of 2 cups of regular flour, we substituted 1 cup each of brown rice flour and tapioca flour with the addition of 1-1/2 tsp. of guar gum. Since we couldn’t find espresso powder (is there such a thing?) we used instant coffee granules, which seemed to work just as well. We only had raw cocoa powder in the house and used that instead of the regular unsweetened cocoa powder. As always, we replaced the brown sugar with coconut sugar, but we cut down the recommended 2 cups of molasses to 1-1/2 cups. Other than that, we followed the recipe exactly as it is written in the book. We turned our recipe into a cake, using a 10-inch spring form, lined with parchment paper, instead of the called for baby cakes, requiring a 50 minute baking time.
It baked beautifully, filling the house with the sweet and gingery smell of Christmas. What a very welcome change to the smell of house paint, that has taken up most of our spare time over the last two weeks. November and December, at least so far, have been exceptionally mild with temperatures that have allowed us to paint – a job that had been waiting to be completed for some time. The previous owners had selected a rather bright tone of red for the trim, which over time with the high UV at our high elevation had degraded into a rather unappealing orange brick red. None of us ever appreciated the color choice, and are happy to finally be able to change it into a more beautiful creamy white. A couple more days and it should all be done – weather permitting.
Yesterday, after coming in cold and sore from painting, we finally got to taste the cake, prepared yesterday morning. It was everything the recipe promised – just not gingerbread. It was moist and rich with the predominant flavors being ginger and molasses. This cake is delicious and we would be making it again, but only for the special occasion of the holidays. It is very rich. We served it with a dollop of whipped cream.