Thursday, December 11, 2008

Deep Dark Stout Gingerbread

Chefly Husband and I went to Ireland several years ago, and, while in Dublin, went to the Guinness museum. One of the exhibits was meant to give you the sensation that you were in a ginormous pint glass that then got filled with the dark, fabulous stout.

This recipe from Christmas 101 is as close as you can get to that outside of Dublin, on your holiday table.
Deep Dark Stout Gingerbread

Makes 12 servings

Make Ahead: The gingerbread can be prepared up to 2 days, covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 cup unsulfured molasses
3/4 cup flat stout, at room temperature
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour the in side of a 12-cup fluted tube pan, tapping out the excess flour.

2. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a piece on wax paper. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, then the yolk. Beat in the molasses.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low. In three additions, beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the stout, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the batter is smooth. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a wire cake rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the cake rack. Transfer to a serving platter, sift confectioners' sugar over the top, and serve warm. Or cool completely and serve at room temperature. (The gingerbread can be prepared up to 2 days ahead, covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.)
Don't have a 12-cup fluted tube pan? Don't worry. Use a Bundt-pan. Use a 9x13 pan. Use any cake-cooking vessel that can hold 12 cups. Not sure of the volume? Really, this is easy: get out your liquid measuring cups. Fill 'em up. Pour into the pan you want to use. Count how many cups it takes to fill the pan.

...yeah, it really is that easy. When I first read that, I slapped my face down into my hands, wondering why I'd never thought of that. It's so much easier than measuring the pan and doing math. I save my math for increasing or reducing recipes, not for calculating volume in fancy Bundt pans.

The author of Christmas 101 suggests that you open the stout an hour before making the cake so that you can encourage the beer to go flat. Stir it, too, every once and a while. That's all good advice. However, when he starts talking about what to do with the left over beer, and his first tip is to cover the top with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge? I call foul. Drink that stout. Unless you can't for health or religious reasons, there's just no reason to leave perfectly good stout to go flat in the fridge.

Yes, you can use stout in your beef stew. Or plum pudding. Or many other yummy things. But, for the love of all things holy, don't just chuck it in the fridge to go flat and vaguely fridge-y.

This is the first near-duplicate recipe on Take One Cookbook; back in September, we looked at Kentish Gingerbread; if anyone has the inkling to try them both, I'd love side-by-side comparison notes.

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