The holiday spirit was in full effect at my house yesterday. When I woke up and realized it was December 1, I couldn’t get in my kitchen fast enough to begin the holiday baking! I really try to enjoy one holiday at a time and not jump ahead 2 or 3 (I’m looking at you stores with Christmas decorations out before Halloween) and it always takes me a few days to recover from Thanksgiving, but the minute December arrives, it’s like a switch has been flipped. Bring on the holiday decorations, the Christmas music, and, of course, the flavors of the season! I even broke out a Christmas-y candle to celebrate.
As much as I love the smell of peppermint wafting through my house, my favorite scent this time of year is actually the aroma of a Christmas tree. I can’t wait to get ours this weekend, but until then, the peppermint candle and freshly baked gingerbread are doing the trick 🙂
Nothing screams holiday baking more to me than gingerbread. While there are plenty of other seasonal associations with flavors, I don’t usually limit myself to baking with them only during certain times of the year. Gingerbread is the exception – it rarely happens outside of the month of December here, which makes it even more special! I had high hopes for this espresso gingerbread cake, and it did not disappoint. The ginger and molasses are prominent, the coffee flavor more subtle, and the cake’s texture is really moist and light. If you’re not a coffee fan, I think you’d still enjoy this – maybe just replace the espresso in the glaze with milk. The cake ranks as one of my favorite gingerbread treats to have ever baked, and was the perfect way to start the month of December. Next up on agenda this weekend – cookies!
Espresso Gingerbread Cake
adapted slightly from Fine Cooking
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup very strong brewed coffee or espresso, cooled to just warm
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks, 10 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons brewed espresso (or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with nonstick baking spray with flour.
Whisk the molasses and coffee together in a measuring cup. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, espresso powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. One at a time, add the eggs and egg yolks, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients and coffee mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat just until the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Run a knife through the batter to eliminate air pockets. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cook for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto the rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze: Add the confectioners’ sugar to a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the espresso until you reach your desired consistency. I wound up using about 2/3-3/4 of the espresso because I like a thicker glaze. Put a sheet of parchment or foil below the cooling rack to catch the excess, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides. Let the glaze set before serving.