I ended up making the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread again because it has always been Ruth’s favorite dessert (although I have the recipe from Hell’s Backbone on deck for next time I want to make gingerbread). This is something like my 6th go-round with the same recipe and I think I finally got the exact right balance of buttery flavor, crispy-chewy exterior, and moist texture. Not to mention I finally got the spices exactly right. There are enough tweaks I served it with roasted pears, butterscotch, and whipped cream, but you could easily serve slices for a very decadent breakfast with a little tangy fresh cheese.
The only thing that went wrong — and it goes wrong every time — is that I lost a couple little chunks of cake. I buttered and floured the hell out of that bundt pan, too. I might try it in two round pans next time, though the crispy bits from the bundt pan are worth digging out of the crevices and squishing back onto the top of the pan.
Not Exactly Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread for Ruth
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup molasses
1 cup oatmeal stout
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2.5 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
3 large eggs
1 cup turbinado or granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) light-tasting olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Preheat the oven to 350° and butter and flour a bundt pan. I cover the inside of the pan with room temperature butter (melted butter gives an insufficiently thick coating), toss flour in, and shake the pan around to get full coverage.
Heat stout and molasses together in a small pan. When they boil, add the baking soda. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
While you wait, mix together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Beat the eggs and sugar together briefly, then whisk in the melted butter, oil, and grated fresh ginger. Add the molasses mixture and whisk thoroughly. Stir in the flour and spices, and mix until just combined.
Pour into the bundt pan and bake 50 minutes, or until a few crumbs cling to a knife. Don’t overbake or you lose the incredibly dense moist texture. Cool 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack and cool thoroughly. If any bits stick to the pan, carefully scrape them out while cursing loudly, then stick them back to the top of the cake. Dust a little powdered sugar over it to cover your tracks.
Notes: You can make this a day or two ahead: wrap it thoroughly in plastic and store at room temperature. As far as I know there is no satisfactory way to make this recipe vegan. A friend tried egg replacer and got a miserably gooey mess — my best guess is that the batter is so dense that it needs the egg protein structure to stand up at all.