I’ll begin this by mentioning that last night was a rather rough night: 3 wake-ups by a ravenous wee girlie (growth spurt!) so please forgive any incoherencies. It’s just that I don’t want to let too much time go by without sharing this recipe for a delightful ginger-honey cake, my version of a molasses-less gingerbread.
A few confessions to you, dear blog, on this holiday Monday where the sun is drifting in and our and the dryer is loudly pounding along downstairs. One: I have been eating far too many sweet things these past months, generally accompanied by multiple cups of coffee; and two: I’ve lately been experiencing not a few what my husband aptly describes as ‘low down in the trough’ moments. Perhaps these are related? I would not be surprised. Sugar has never been an addiction of mine but holy goodness it has become one. I am not proud of this but it’s true. My sister in law Emily emailed recently and mentioned she was doing a cleanse and thus was taking a break from coffee and this idea sounded so, so good to me I can’t even tell you. I need to do this myself: green tea only, no sweet treats, no snacks, just good vegetables and whole grains and the stuff I do still eat regularly but just more of that and less of the other. And yet … now is not quite the time. I still need a bit of a treat in these sleep-deprived days. I will get there. I hope.
The truth is that when you’re deeply tired, so tired that you put salt in your coffee instead of sugar (yes) and your morning dawns grey and with the memory of the three wake-ups you endured the night before still lingering you may find that you toss aside the idea of that long-anticipated run in favor of a strong cup of coffee and a piece of cake (or a batch of biscuits). A third confession: you can hardly bring yourself to care. I am not proud of this phenomenon but so it goes. This is an incredibly unique time in my life: not only am I a new mother but I have left comfort and familiarity (not to mention language fluency) behind to live on a new continent. Were I in California I’d be able to slip out for a run even in the dark, this being absolutely impossible here, or catch a weekend yoga class, or even get decent take-out on nights when I feel too wiped to cook. In lieu of those lovely opportunities I have been baking in copious amounts either whilst the girl sleeps or with her in tow. It makes utterly no sense and still —
Christmas felt a bit wan this year, mostly because I’d come down with my traditional holiday cold and wasn’t feeling particularly jolly overall. The few decorations I’d ordered from amazon did not arrive until the new year and while we hung up some lights I was yearning for festive. So I baked: three kinds of cookies, a maple-laced butter cake with caramelized pears, a sort of gingerbread sans molasses (I used honey instead) that turned out to be the dark horse of my sweets repertoire for that week. The pear cake was deliciously simple and buttery and good but the gingery honey cake had us making up excuses to drift into the kitchen just to cut one …. more … slice and brew another pot of coffee.
This is not a true gingerbread and so I will not call it such but I do so love the idea of a gingery honey cake for these mid-winter days that might push us all a bit down into the trough no matter where we happen to live. This cake more than fits that particular bill. It’s a cake that’s wonderfully full of honey but is not overly sweet; I draped a lemony glaze over top to give a bit of additional oomph. I think crystallized ginger, called for in the original recipe, might be lovely, too, though I was very happy with my version. Not gingerbread, no, but good sturdy cake in its own right that was perfect for the holidays as well as this first month of the year.
I confess that if I had this cake sitting on my counter right now I might eat roughly one-half of it in one go. Maybe you will, too.
Gingery Honey Cake, adapted from King Arthur Flour
For reliable recipes the King Arthur Flour website rarely disappoints. If I ever get my hands on some molasses I will make this recipe exactly as written.
Makes 8 servings
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
Grease and flour a regular sized bundt pan. Heat the oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Melt the butter. In a small bowl, whisk the butter and honey together and pour into the dry ingredients in the bowl, stirring to moisten.
Add the water, stirring until everything is moistened. In another small bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk. Stir into the batter until evenly combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan.
Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.
When cake is cool, pour the glaze over the top, letting it drip down the sides.
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk (more if needed)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Whisk together all of the ingredients until a smooth, thick glaze forms.