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
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.