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Monday, October 31, 2011

Baking with Beer: Not Your Mother's Gingerbread

It's he-ere (imagine this said in a scary, Halloween-y voice).

David and I woke up yesterday morning to find that it had snowed.  It was less than an inch, and it promptly became ice on the streets, but I was happy to see it.  This apparently is not a normal reaction to snow, but I was happy.

Maybe it's because the gray and brown that had taken over for the past few weeks were now clean and white.  Maybe it's because it's now time for the holidays.  Maybe it's because I didn't have anywhere to be until 6 p.m. last night.  Who knows?  All I can say is that I got a little giddy.

My brother-in-law Philip, who lives in Brooklyn, couldn't believe that it snowed in Manhattan before Anchorage.  Here is a totally random photo from our front window yesterday morning, which was initially as close to the snow as David wanted to venture:

I hope it doesn't keep what is usually a flood of trick-or-treaters from our door tonight--I may have overstocked on candy a little.  Oops.  Whoever comes will be greeted by our not-very-well-crafted pumpkin that we carved this weekend at our friends' annual pumpkin-carving party.

 I can't believe October is over today.  Not only does this remind me that my play opens in 26 days (eek!), but it brings an end to the Oktoberfest cooking with beer festivities.  For the last installment, I wanted to try using beer in a dessert.  

This dessert is adapted from a fun cookbook called All Cakes Considered, and is written by a National Public Radio staffer who began taking cakes to work and eventually was dubbed "the cake lady."  There are worse nicknames.

This is some seriously zingy gingerbread.  I can't taste the beer, although it might be contributing to the malty quality of the cake.  It's the perfect dessert for sliding (or, as I said the other day, slouching) into winter.

I may not be good at carving pumpkins, but at least I buy good candy.

Not-Your-Mother's Gingerbread
Adapted from All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray

For the gingerbread:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup dark molasses
1 cup dark beer
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Small pinch of kosher salt
1/2 crystallized ginger, roughly chopped

For the frosting:
3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1/2 unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and center a rack in the middle.  Using either butter or nonstick baking spray, coat an eight-inch square baking pan.

Cream the butter with a hand mixer on medium speed, then add the brown sugar and beat to combine.

Continuing on medium speed, add the egg, beer and molasses all at once and beat for up to two minutes, until well-combined.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl.  Add to the butter mixture in three separate installments, beating well each time.

Gently stir the crystallized ginger into the batter and pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the cake comes out clean.  Cool thoroughly on a baking rack.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.  Cream the cream cheese, vanilla and butter using a hand mixer on medium speed.  Add the powdered sugar in three installments, beat after each one.  When the mixture, is thoroughly blended, add the ginger and beat until combined.

Spread the frosting over the cake.  When serving, garnish each piece with a small chunk of crystallized ginger.

Serves 12-16, depending on how much you feel like sharing.


  1. I love to cook with beer. It really adds a lot of flavor. Great recipe.

  2. happy belated halloween! your carved pumpkin is so pretty..
    I've never cooked with beer, should try one day. Is dark beer same as stout?

  3. I love gingerbread, this sounds super yum. I need to make this!

  4. I love baking with beer! This sounds super yum!

  5. Wow! That sounds amazing! I am not a fan of cold weather...but I'm glad you're enjoying it!

  6. Baking with beer sounds fun, and delicious too!

  7. I have not experienced snow before and hopefully will have a chance in the near future though its been raining dogs and cats over my place.

    The cake looks so spongy and puffed up, love it even without the frosting.

  8. Malty dark beer does sound like a good addition to the gingerbread flavor. Great post-yum!

  9. I cook with beer... baking with beer would be new - although I so see it with gingerbread. It's almost 'tis the season, isn't it? (I cannot believe it snowed in NYC before Minnesota!)

  10. Ooh, how interesting! I haven't head beer-flavored gingerbread (in fact I've only had gingerbread once, the German Lebkuchen are similar, but different), it sounds very interesting!
    Sorry about the snow! Cleveland hasn't even been hit yet!

  11. I love any excuse to cook with beer, this gingerbread turned out awesome!

  12. Lovely ginger bread recipe.....
    I love the picture of snow, I love snow but here in this part of ca no snow :-(

  13. Mmmmmm. Gingerbread with beer. Yummmm! your pumpkin is really cute (mine would look awful).

  14. I am loving this gingerbread! I can see how beer would be delicious in it, and you can even pair it with the beer to serve! Glad to hear you were happy about the snow :)!

  15. Oh, yum! Lovin' Never would have thought to put beer in gingerbread! Great idea!

  16. Gingerbread with that delectable icing sounds like the perfect thing for a snowy day (fingers crossed that we won't see that white stuff for a while!). YUM.

    PS...On my pb brownies, feel free to substitute bittersweet chocolate for the semisweet...they will be wonderful that way!

  17. Beer in gingerbread, that is not my mom's for sure, lol. Looks great though.

  18. Any recipe that includes dark beer is a winner in my book!

  19. Gingerbread is one of my FAVORITE things to bake this time of year! I want to try your recipe with the beer in it! Hopefully your Halloween was good and you were able to unload all that candy! :)

  20. I seldom cook with beer. I baked gingerbread before wtihout using beer. I am going to try the next bake with it.

  21. Gingerbread with beer? Very intriguing! I feel like those flavors could work very well together.

  22. Very intrigued by this with the beer, must be super moist! I have to try this I love gingerbread havent had it in years!