Yesterday I made some Holly B’s Christmas Lebkuchen in spite of a raging migraine and a younger child who woke up coughing from his nap and was absolutely inconsolable for over an hour afterward. The cookies smelled amazing and looked, well, terrible. Flat and brown with really no visual interest at all. Not even a powdered sugar sprinkle was going to help out with this one. The flavor was good but overall, it’s not a recipe I was eager to share.
And so, cake! I got in my head that I wanted to make a chocolate gingerbread bundt cake over the weekend. A recipe was surprisingly hard to find. Most places I looked didn’t have those two flavors together and the few recipes I did find were just not quite right.
Leave it to Martha. This recipe is actually on her site as bars but I figured I could double it and put it in a bundt pan. I went to a trusty site to find out the volume of an 8-inch bar pan to see if doubling it would fit in a 12-cup bundt pan. According to that site, an 8-inch bar pan is 6 cups. Just right, right? After putting the batter in the pan, I realized that it was going to be a sad flat cake. Fortunately, I also have a 10-cup bundt pan and so the batter was switched over. All was well in the end and the cake tasted just as I wanted it to. Deep rich gingerbread flavor, chewy texture, and chocolate chips sprinkled throughout. The balance was perfect.
Bundt cakes are usually very easy but they do have the incredibly annoying tendency to want to stay in the pan rather than come out and be eaten. So here are a few tips for urging your cake out.
- Have a good non-stick pan. Sounds obvious I know, but if you have your mom’s old rusty pan, it’s time to replace it. Most cookware stores carry some non-stick version and run between $20 and $30. If you are only going to buy one, get a 12-cup. Most cakes call for that size.
- Grease that pan up good. Yes it is non-stick, but please trust me when I tell you that you still need to grease it. The non-stick surface helps but does not guarantee that your cake will pop out. The best combo (and again, trust me here) is Crisco and flour. Be generous with your Crisco and be sure to get the whole pan. Cakes really like to stick to the part of the pan that sticks up in the middle. If you are making a chocolate cake, you can dust with cocoa powder instead of flour.
- When the cake is done, let it sit for 10-15 minutes on a rack. Take a very thin knife (a palate knife if you have one) and run it around the outside edge of the cake and the inside part of the pan that sticks up. Using your oven mitts, give the cake a firm little toss in the air. It will become clear what part of the cake is still stuck to the pan so go over that part again with your knife. Give it another toss. If it all seems free and clear, carefully turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.
- Remember, if all else fails and some of the cake sticks in the pan, powdered sugar can cover a lot of mistakes. And if there is a glaze involved, even better.
Best of luck with your holiday baking and check back here in the next few days for lots more treats.
One Year Ago: Fennel and Brie Risotto Wedges (this is so delicious)
Adapted from Martha Stewart
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using Crisco, grease a 12-cup bundt pan. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and make sure pan is even coated. Dump out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, ginger, pumpkin-pie spice, , and baking soda. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, molasses, eggs, and sour cream until smooth. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.
3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let sit for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife all around the outside and inside part of the pan that sticks up. Using your oven mitts, give the cake a firm little toss in the air. It will become clear what part of the cake is still stuck to the pan so go over that part again with your knife. Give it another toss. If it all seems free and clear, carefully turn the cake out onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely. Sift powdered sugar over top, if desired.
(DT: In my experience, this type of cake freezes beautifully. I didn’t try it with this one in particular but I wouldn’t hesitate to do so next time I make it. Just wrap it really well in foil and put it inside a plastic bag (the type found in the produce section of grocery stores is perfect for this job.) I think it’s safe to freeze for up to a month. Thaw at room temperature.)