Ginger Cake

Recipe 9 of 103

Gingerbread is a childhood memory for me. Every summer my Mom and I would go to the Del Mar Fair. There were two things we always did every year, eat gingerbread and take pictures in the photo booth.gingerbreadhut

My Mom would sing this song on our way to the little pink gingerbread hut. Actually anytime gingerbread was on a menu, served at a party, seen on TV or anywhere it was mentioned we would both start singing the gingerbread song. I thought it was a song my Mom made up, she has a serious silly gene that she has so lovingly passed on to my kid and me. About a month ago I made gingerbread cupcakes for her birthday and she set out to find the original song so here it is for you all to enjoy.

Now on to April’s Ginger Cake, it’s a spicy, moist, rich treat for sure. The kicker is tons of fresh ginger and to seal the deal……tons of whoop cream!

Here is what you will need.

Serves 8-10

1 stick unsalted butter at room temp, a bit more for the pan

2 1/2 cups AP flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup unsulfured light molasses, not blackstrap

1 teaspoon backing soda

1 packed cup of dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup freshly grated ginger

Preheat oven to 325° position rack in the middle of your oven

Butter a 8 inch springform pan that is at least 3 inches deepcakepanCut an 8″ circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan…like this.drymixMeasure and mix all the dry ingredients except the baking sodamolassesMix the molasses, boiling water and baking soda until all are dissolved.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as you go, then add egg, mix until incorporated. gingerfreshAdd the grated ginger….look at all that ginger!! I was seriously geeking out at this point. I love fresh ginger.readytomixAlternately add the dry mix and the molasses mixture until all combined.oventimeFill your prepared pan and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for an hour or until a toothpick or a wooden skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool a bit in the pan before you remove the ring from the springform pan. Not too long though its lovely served warm.

Get your whoop cream ready and dollop it generously over a warm slice of ginger cake. Remember when I say whoop cream, I mean make it yourself, no canned crap. Whip heavy whipping cream with a little powdered sugar or no sugar until fluffy, maybe add a bit of vanilla extract and zest some orange rind over the whoop like thiscake

I loved this recipe, very easy and it has forever changed my taste for “gingerbread” I’m sure I’ll partake at the little pink hut again in my life but I will make this cake forever to satisfy my ginger cake needs.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes

Look at these lovely little morsels of YUM! I discovered this recipe last year in the magazine Fine Cooking, it was a fall issue and I love pumpkin, I mean really LOVE pumpkin, so I made it.

First try…. totally blew my mind they were so good.

Made it for a few gatherings last holiday season and all in attendance were equally blown away.

I’ve tweaked a few things here and there, so this is my version. I used less sugar and kefir to replace buttermilk, I think kefir gives them better tanginess. Click here for a printable recipe from the Fine Cooking website, since I don’t have that figured out yet for my site. Last year I made a layer cake, this year I did cupcakes and a layer cake. There are several steps that can be done ahead which I  seriously advise you do, this recipe takes some time but it’s oh so worth it.

First off let’s talk pumpkin…. most people go and get the canned stuff, this time of year it’s being shoved down our throats at every grocery store we enter. But so are fresh pumpkins, most will get carved up to look spooky then sit on our porches and rot. Don’t get me wrong spooky scary pumpkins are cool but why not get an extra one – bake it, peel it, puree it and enjoy the difference in using fresh pumpkin you baked, peeled and pureed……it really makes a difference in taste.

Now let’s talk about brown butter……. butter is awesome – we all know that – but brown butter is OMG…, nutty and amazing! This is the kicker to this recipe.

K ready?, let’s do this!

recipe yields one 2 layer cake or 24 cupcakes

For the pumpkin purée

1 medium-large pumpkin, cut in half or in quarters, clean and remove seeds, reserve the seeds to roast up with some spices for a yummy snack. My pumpkin weighed about 6 pounds,  yield was  7 cups of puree, woo hoo!!

Make the pumpkin purée

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Put the pumpkin halves/quarters on the baking sheet cut side down and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45-60 minutes. Let cool. Peel the pumpkin and purée the flesh in a food processor (or a bad a** blender like my new one) until very smooth. You’ll need 1-1/2 cups of the purée for this recipe. Refrigerate or portion and freeze any remaining purée for future use, like pies, soups, cookies… excited I love hoarding yummy food. 

For the cake or cupcakes

6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans

9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

3/4 tsp. table salt

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1-1/2 cup fresh pumpkin puree or canned

1/3 cup kefir or buttermilk

Make the cake or cupcakes

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

 Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans).

Or line a muffin pan with cupcake papers or make your own with a 5″ square of parchment paper. Use a glass to help mold the paper into each section of the muffin pan.Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Watch this closely, butter will burn really fast. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and kefir or buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. You could do all this in a stand mixer on low speeds so to not over mix.

Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between 2 prepared round cake pans or a prepared muffin pan.

 Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes, cupcakes bake for 15-18 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.

For the topping

1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter

2/3 cup pecans

1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas

2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 tsp. table salt

1-1/2 Tbs. chopped crystallized ginger

Make the topping

Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger. The ginger is so good, do the leg work to find it and use it. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet. Don’t let this sit in your skillet for too long, it will never come out. Do ahead one day, keep in super airtight container.

For the frosting

4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

Make the frosting

Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids.

 I used some of the solids at the bottom, they add that yummy flavor and cool little specs of browned butter. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a pastry bag or not, since the nuts go on top, no need to get too fancy with the frosting. This frosting is out of this world, it should be banned forever…..kidding. For the cake, sprinkle some of the nuts over the first layer so you get that crunch on the inside layer. If you like nuts double the topping recipe. 

Make these, share with family, friends, office peeps……you will be a star…..probably get a huge raise….  If you make this please comment and let me know your thoughts. I need to know that I’m not the only one freaking out about how good these are. K?

Happy New Year! Black Eyed Peas….mmmmm

Happy New Year! Finally getting around to posting, life/school has been busy and way too much fun. So New Years Day is the day to get going on the Black Eyed Peas, not the band, the actual pea. There are so many ways to make them, find  your fav and get it done, then you’ll have good luck all year. Today I did them a little different then I usually do, using fresh black eyed peas, no soaking for me. I also made a Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, drizzled with honey. YUM! This is super easy and you still have time to get it done sometime this weekend, if not today.

What you’ll need- 
2 – quarts stock (homemade is best) I used turkey stock from my thanksgiving bird today, it was delish.
2 – 16oz bags of fresh frozen Black Eyed Peas, thawed.
1 – onion chopped – about 1 cup
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic chopped fine, use more if you like garlic
6 slices of cooked bacon, chopped for garnish, reserve bacon grease

In a 4/6 qt. soup pot, fry up the bacon, cool and chop for garnish and reserve the fat for the onions. In the same pan sweat the onions until translucent, add the thyme and garlic and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes on low, don’t brown them. 
Add the thawed peas to the pot and cover with stock, simmer until peas are tender, check as you go, mine took about 90 minutes. The stock will cook away, you can add more as you go or let it absorb. I like it with some broth, so I add more. 

Cooked this way they are very light and clean. Don’t get me wrong I love the BEP’s cooked with a big ham hock, but after all the Holiday feasting we did, it was a nice change. 

The Sweet Corn Bread Pudding however is not light, but oh so good. Check it
What you’ll need-
1/2 onion, diced fine
1-ounce unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped fine
1 cup fresh or frozen sweet corn
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, whole grain, stone ground
1/2 cup shredded cheese- use your favorite parmesan and or sharp cheddar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 cups day old French bread, cubed (Thanks to Doreen for day old bread, told you I’d use it up right quick)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sweat onions with butter and herbs in an skillet until translucent.

Combine corn, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, cheese, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add cubed bread, onions mixture and fold to combine. Pour batter into a buttered casserole dish. Bake 45 minutes, or until set. Cool slightly before serving. Drizzle with honey just before serving. Here’s a shot of both plated and ready to eat, it was so good!

Happy New Year to all my family and friends, I love you all madly!

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better person.
Benjamin Franklin

Oh the Irish in me !

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, so I whipped up some Irish grub to celebrate the day of green, or the day of drinking or the day to cook Corned Beef & Cabbage !!
I come by my Irish blood honestly, meet my Grandpa Jim May, he’s not with us anymore but he will always be in our hearts.

This is a picture of him when he was 16, attending Morgan Park Military Academy in Chicago. He went on to WWII in the Pacific Theater on Guam as a Marine Raider, first guys off the boat. He was shot and recovered at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, where he meant my Grandma Dorothy Harle, then came my Mom, then came Me. When I was little, he ran bars downtown SD, he’d cook big pots of stews for the bar patrons and let me sit on the bar and eat as many Maraschino Cherries as I could. I always remember him cooking. So I dedicate this meal to him. Miss you Grandpa

Corned Beef w/ Cabbage, Potatoes & Carrots.
4 to 5 lb Corned Beef ( I got the uncured one at Trader Joe’s, AMAZING )
1 whole head of cabbage
2-3 potatoes quartered
6-7 small fresh carrots/ chopped big
1 bottle of beer
Put the beef and the spices from the bag in a dutch oven, add 1 beer  – your favorite flavor, I used a Fat Tire, from Colorado, not Irish but very tasty. Besides I needed to save all the Irish beer for Black and Tans.
 Add water until the beef is covered. Cook at 325 for at least 3 hours. Check the beef for the fall apart factor, the meat should be extremely tender and cut easily with a fork. Remove the meat from the pot and let rest on a plate for carving. Add the veggies to the pot and return to the oven for 20 minutes or until veggies are cooked but still slightly firm.
Slice up the meat and serve the veggies on the side with some good stone ground mustard.
Enjoy, it’s yummy.