Classic Gingerbread Cake

When I’m in the supermarket checkout line, I often look longingly at the Cook’s Illustrated in the magazine racks.  The magazine always looks so informative and helpful.  The sleek black and white drawings, the hands-on, practical tips, and the absence of advertisements.  But at $5.95, it always gives me that moment of pause.

So I was particularly excited when I saw that Caitlin had stuffed an issue into my Christmas stocking.  This is the first recipe we tried from the issue – and we loved it!  It was super moist and super gingery:  just what we wanted!

classic gingerbread cake

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (Feb. 2011).

PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 35 to 45 minutes
YIELD: Serves 8 to 10

3/4 cup dark stout (we used an oatmeal stout beer)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup mild molasses
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting pan)
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger


1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour 8-inch square baking pan.

2.  Bring stout to a boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (careful: the mixture will foam vigorously).  When the foaming subsides, stir in the molasses, brown sugar, and granulated sugar, until dissolved.  Set the mixture aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and black pepper.  Be sure the black pepper is very finely ground (you can smash it with a knife if necessary).

4.  Transfer the stout mixture to a large bowl.  Whisk in the eggs, oil, and grated ginger until combined.  Working in thirds, whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture.  Stir vigorously until smooth after each addition.

5.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and gently tap the pan against the counter to dislodge any large air bubbles.  Bake until the top of the cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean from the center – about 35 to 45 minutes (40 minutes for us).  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour.  Cut into squares and serve!  You can top with pickled ginger!


4 responses to “Classic Gingerbread Cake

  1. This gingerbread was fabulous! The stout added great depth of flavor and an almost caramelized taste!

  2. I agree! It was delicious. Plus no Chefzilla!

  3. I saw that recipe and wondered how it would work out. Thanks for testing it for me! Found you via Food Gawker.

  4. Thanks for the recipe. I love gingerbread cake!

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