There are certain flavors and smells that call to mind the holiday season. While pumpkin spice rules the fall season, peppermint seems to permeate the holiday season. As much as I love peppermint, the smell that most evokes the holidays for me is the spicy smell of gingerbread. There is something so comforting about the combination of cinnamon, clove, molasses, nutmeg, and, of course, ginger. It is inviting, warm, and invigorating.
Another fixture of the holidays for many is eggnog. Hood’s Golden EggNog has been a particular favorite in my Dad’s house since I was a girl. Now he is kind enough to email us with updates on pricing once it hits the stores. Before eggnog lattes were trendy, I would add eggnog to my coffee at Dad’s house on Christmas morning (and maybe follow it with an eggnog chaser). Eggnog is an indulgence with a short, sweet season.
Gingerbread Cake Worthy of a Holiday!
When I was looking for a special recipe for dessert after Christmas dinner, it occurred to me that these two holiday favorites are begging to be partnered. This cake is tender and moist with all the spice you expect of gingerbread, offset by the creamy richness of an eggnog glaze. This recipe is special, but not so complicated to make that one would have a hard time making it during the frenzy of the holiday season. It is a cake worthy of a celebration. I hope it becomes a new family tradition for us.
Gingerbread Cake with Eggnog Glaze
For the cake:
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar packed
- 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups molasses unsulfured light or dark
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4-6 tablespoons eggnog
- Gold coarse decorating sugar optional
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center of oven.
- Butter and flour a Bundt pan (or use baking spray).
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Stop mixer at least once to scrape down paddle and sides of the bowl.
- Whisk together the grated ginger and eggs in a small bowl. Then add the egg mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing on low speed until just combined. Scrape sides and bowl and mix again to ensure ingredients are evenly combined.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, ground ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg).
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together molasses, boiling water, and baking soda. Please note that this mixture will foam up!
- With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing until just incorporated.
- Add half of the molasses mixture and blend on low speed until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and paddle.
- Add half of the remaining dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated and then scraping down the sides and paddle.
- Add the rest of the molasses mixture and blend on low speed until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are well combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake 50-60 minutes. The top of the cake will spring back when lightly pressed.
- Let cake cool in the pan.
For the glaze:
- Combine sugar, butter, vanilla, and 4 tablespoons of eggnog in a large mixing bowl.
- Beat on high speed with a hand mixer until smooth. (If necessary, add additional 1 to 2 tablespoons eggnog to achieve desired consistency.)
- While the cake is still warm, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake.
- If you are using decorating sugar, sprinkle on before glaze sets.
- Allow cake and glaze to set and cool for at least one hour.
There is a lot of scraping down the bowl in this recipe. It may seem fussy, but it is worth doing to be sure everything is evenly combined.
This cake is just barely adapted from Joanne Chang’s “Deep, Dark, Spicy Gingerbread with Coffee Glaze” in her fantastic cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Café.
The glaze is taken from Hood’s “Golden Eggnog Cake” recipe (also a family favorite and super easy to make).