Place a piece of this rich, moist gingerbread cake on a layer of tangy-sweet lemon sauce, top it with a dollop of whipped cream, and you have an iconic, heart-warming holiday dessert!
Nothing gets me in the holiday spirit like gingerbread. Whether it’s decorating gingerbread cookies or breathing in the comforting aroma of gingerbread as it bakes, I don’t feel quite right in December until I have made something with gingerbread. This feeling goes way back to my childhood, and I associate the incredible smell of baking gingerbread with warmth and comfort against the backdrop of December’s cold, dark mornings and nights.
I adapted this recipe from my beloved “Atutumn” cookbook by Susan Branch. I guess it is still technically autumn, at least for a few more days, though it feels more like winter out there the past couple of days! We have a dusting of snow!
Gingerbread has a special place in my heart. When I was a very little girl, I was very attached to a gingerbread stuffed toy that my aunt gave me. I loved it so much and held it so much that my mom had to sew a new covering for it so the stuffing would not fall out. Now my aunt often gives me gingerbread decorations because she knows how much I love them! So baking gingerbread for me is like an extension of my love for all things gingerbread.
I have tried lots of different gingerbread cake recipes, but this one is my favorite. It is so moist and with just the right amount of spices. The lemon sauce is completely optional–the gingerbread cake can stand on its own. But the contrast of the spices in the gingerbread with the sweet tanginess of the lemon sauce adds a layer of complexity and deliciousness. And the whipped cream is optional as well, though I highly recommend it!
There is always so much going on in the month of December, and sometimes the obligations and expectations can be overwhelming. Baking gingerbread is one way feel I am honoring the spirit of the holiday season in a way that is meaningful to me, while at the same time bringing joy to those around me. And it doesn’t cost much to fill your home with the iconic aroma of baking gingerbread. I hope you all have a great weekend! I wish you could taste a bite of this cake! It is delicious. I am sharing this recipe over at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.
For the lemon sauce:
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- a dash of nutmeg
For the gingerbread cake:
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of molasses
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger
- 1 egg
- 2 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 cup of buttermilk (or 1 cup of milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar)
- whipped cream
First, make the lemon sauce. In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in the boiling water gradually. Turn on the heat to medium, and cook until the sauce becomes clear and thick, stirring often. Stir in the butter, lemon juice and zest, and nutmeg until everything is blended. Allow the sauce to cool, and then cover and refrigerate it.
For the cake, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the first 7 ingredients. Beat in the egg. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. Add the flour mixture, alternately with the buttermilk, to the bowl with the first 7 ingredients. (If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute with regular milk stirred with a tablespoon of white vinegar). Stir a little after each addition, until everything is combined, but don’t over-stir. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for about 35 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
To serve, spoon the lemon sauce onto dessert plates. Place a piece of gingerbread cake on the sauce and top with a spoonful of whipped cream. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Autumn by Susan Branch.