I have loved gingerbread since I was a little girl, when I made it for my dad, served warm and topped simply with fresh whipped cream. Just the smell of it baking makes you warm and toasty all over.
This recipe calls for a super moist cake that is spiced with ginger, nutmeg and cloves, slathered in an egg nog frosting and festooned with crispy gingerbread men pretty enough to hang on the Christmas tree. It’s perfect for holiday get-togethers, all season long.
I love to prop the shop doors open a bit so the smell of warm spices and rich molasses wafts down the street.
Courtesy of Melissa Murphy, Sweet Melissa Patisserie
Makes one eight-inch layer cake
1 cup butter
1 cup molasses
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup plain yogurt
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
2/3 cup boiling water
Butter and flour two eight-inch by two-inch cake pans. Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter and molasses together.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the brown sugar and the eggs until thick (no lumps!). Add the melted butter/molasses and beat again until thick. Add the flour mixture and beat until just barely combined. Scrape down the bowl, add yogurt and orange zest and mix to combine. Add boiling water, beat for two minutes, scraping the bowl thoroughly halfway through this final beating.
Place in the preheated oven and carefully rotate the pans after 20 minutes. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack completely before frosting.
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup eggnog
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup dark rum (Goslings or Meyers is best)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound (four sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together the flour, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Over medium heat, add the eggnog and maple syrup and whisk briskly to combine. Continue to stir the mixture continuously with a whisk while cooking (be sure not to let any flour stick to the bottom) until it reaches a thick pudding consistency. Remove from heat, stir in rum and vanilla. Strain into a bowl and cover flush with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine softened butter and powdered sugar on low speed until combined (be careful, or the sugar will fly into your face!). Increase speed to medium high and beat until fluffy.
Scrape down the bowl and add the egg nog mixture, beat to combine. Set aside at room temperature until you are ready to frost the cake (you may store in the refrigerator for up to a week, but let it reach room temperature before using).
Melissa Murphy is the chef/owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie [175 Seventh Ave., between First and Second streets in Park Slope, (718) 788-2700; 276 Court St., between Butler and Douglass streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 855-3410]. Full menu at www.sweetmelissapatisserie.com.