I've just begun working on a healthier gingerbread cake recipe. For my first go, I started with the gingerbread recipe in http://standardbakingco.com/book/">"Standard Baking Co. Pastries" by Allison Pray and Tara Smith. Standard Baking is one of the best bakeries in Maine, if not the best, and while this slim volume doesn't have any of the recipes for Standard's incredible breads, their homely pastries are all here. Including gingerbread.
My changes include replacing half the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour, the cloves in the spice mix with allspice, and using a chai-tea buttermilk infusion instead of the cold water the recipe calls for -- particularly for those days where I want a lighter cake, and want to replace the molasses with maple syrup, another Maine standard flavor.
This is a moist, delicious cake with a delicate crumb. Enjoy it Maine-style, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. —Rebecca Zicarelli
whole-wheat pastry flour
1 scant tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoons
butter, room temperature
egg, room temperature
blackstrap molasses or grade B maple syrup
cold water or buttermilk, infused with a Bengal Spice teabag
If using maple syrup, heat the buttermilk until steaming, add a bengal-spice (or other cinnamon tea) tea bag, and let steep and until cool. Put in the freezer to chill down while you mix the other ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease and flour a 9" cake pan (square or round,) or an 8" fluted tube pan.
Sift dry ingredients together. If you don't have a sifter, use a wire mesh sieve, but don't skip the sifting, which is more to aerate and lighten the whole-wheat flour to help will help prevent the cake from being too heavy.
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar, scraping down the bowl a few times. Mix in the egg until well combined. Add the molasses (or maple syrup), and mix for a couple of minutes on medium, scraping down the bowl at least once. Sift half the dry mixture into the workbowl, and mix on low until incorporated. Add the rest of the dry mixture, mix until incorporated again, scraping down the bowl. Add the cold water (or chilled buttermilk tea) slowly, mixing on low, until well combined. Mix one minute on medium.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and bake in pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 min., until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove cake from pan and cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners sugar if desired. (Standard Baking serves their's with a glaze made from lemon juice and confectioners sugar.) Serve with whipped cream or ice cream on the side.