"All I want for Christmas is lots of gingerbread," says my husband every September. I always listen.
The recipe for this gingerbread comes from a pastry cook who worked with pastry chef Claudia Fleming at Gramercy Tavern in New York City in the mid-nineties. She gave me a handwritten copy that I transcribed and have adapted over the years. You can find recipes for this gingerbread all over the internet, but this version has a lot less sugar and a few more steps.
The extra step of passing the batter through a fine strainer makes this cake so delicate. But if you don't have the proper strainer, don't stress—the texture will just be a little coarser. But if you want to add a new set of toys to your kitchen this holiday season, go to a restaurant supply store and buy a chinois, a pestle, a stand, and a bain marie. You will use them forever and ever for so many things.
You can use any combination of blackstrap, lighter molasses, maple syrup, honey, and date molasses. For me, the cake is most successful when the sweetness is balanced out with the spiciness of the molasses, fresh ginger, and ground spices.
This recipe makes at least two 10-inch cakes. But you can make 15 small ones in ramekins. Or 4 medium-sized loaf cakes. Just keep an eye on them since they will all cook at different rates.
The cream cheese frosting is a new addition this year and I love it so much; the whipped cream cheese makes it light and airy. I've cut the sugar in half. The frosting doesn’t dominate the cake, it just enhances it. (If you don't like cream cheese icing, just keep it simple and sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar and serve with crème fraîche.)
Since the recipe is so ample, I usually freeze one of the cakes. It will thaw and taste like it just came out of the oven. —Phyllis Grant