One winter, I made gingerbread nearly every week. Come Thursday afternoon, I'd haul out Laurie Colwin's delightful book, Home Cooking, and whip up a batch of her spicy gingerbread for my young family. I did not grow up with gingerbread; I was accustomed to my mother's honey cake, with its mellow flavors and hints of orange and spice. But they both are part of the same family of spicy baked treats--kissing cousins, you might say. Eventually, it occurred to me that the autumn spice-cake experience could be enhanced by the addition of a creamy, rich topping. Because I am an avowed Anglophile (and because I like the tin it comes in--always a good reason for purchasing an untried comestible), I sweetened a cream-cheese frosting with Lyle's Golden Syrup. This added a wonderful toasty, caramelly flavor. I added some tang with crème-fraîche. You can spread it on top of a cake and let billow gently over the edges for a homey, sweet confection. —creamtea
- Makes Enough frosting to top one cake
8 oz. block of neufchatel or cream cheese, softened
unsalted butter, softened
heaping tablespoons crème fraîche
Lyle's Golden Syrup
confectioner's sugar, (more or less), measured and then sifted
- Combine the creme cheese, butter and crème fraîche in a medium bowl and beat with electric mixer until combined. Beat in salt and vanilla extract. Beat in Golden Syrup.
- Add sifted confectioner's sugar by the tablespoon, tasting as you go. When it tastes right--rich but not too sweet--it's done.
- Place the frosting in the fridge for an hour or so to firm it up; it will be pretty soft. Generously frost the top of the cake (preferably gingerbread, date or pumpkin, but I'll bet a homey chocolate cake would also be good beneath this frosting). There will likely be enough left over for you to store in a monkey dish in the fridge and spoon out when no one is looking.
- Put the kettle on, make coffee, and cut a couple of fat slices of cake, one for you, one for a friend.