Sunday, January 17, 2010

This ain't New York City Gingerbread

Much has been said of the gingerbread at the fabled Grammercy Tavern in Manhattan's Flatiron district, and of it's creator, James Beard award winning pastry chef Paula Fleming.   Around the holidays, there was lots of chat on Chowhound about gingerbread, and Paula Fleming's recipe from her cookbook The Last Course: The Desserts of the Grammercy Tavern.  I've been to New York City exactly once in my life, and it was long before the Grammercy Tavern existed, so I haven't actually tried this gingerbread in it's native form.   I am not sure when I will be back to NYC.  When I was there for a conference in 1990, I spent most of it in my hotel room watching the movie "Steel Magnolias" ad infinitum with a nasty case of food poisoning from the hotel food.   Thank you NYC!  When I was finally ambulatory, I did make it to all the touristy things like Little Italy, Central Park, Statue of Liberty and the Carnegie Deli.   I actually found the the Big Apple a Big Disappointment.   Everything is very expensive, it's a hassle to get anywhere and do anything, and the whole city smells like urine.  Why is that?  Does everyone just pee in the streets there?   Eventually, I'll be back, I am sure.  Perhaps as a chaperone for a school trip or something.  And maybe when I get there again, if the Grammercy Tavern still exists, I'll try the real deal.

But until then, I made Paula Fleming's gingerbread recipe was originally published in Gourmet (RIP) in 2000.   It yields a large Bundt sized cake.  I picked up a totally awesome Bundt pan at an estate sale last winter that I've been dying to try - so this will be it's maiden voyage.    I hopefully will not be only person eating it - there will be shock and dismay when unsuspecting diners discover that it's gingerbread, not chocolate cake.   (similar to the molasses cookie "bait and switch" we've all experienced).   While I love molasses in anything, I find I am often the minority.   Paula's recipe as it it written required dirtying way too many dishes and doing things I never do like sifting.   I hope Paula will forgive me, I made some changes for those of us that don't have a staff to clean up after us.   With regard to Paula. evidently she has long left Manhattan and now runs a restaurant/B&B on Long Island.  Maybe she got tired of the urine smell, too.  

Here's how I made her gingerbread:

1 cup dark beer - I used home brew
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess. Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl, set aside.   In the molasses/beer pot, add eggs and whisk.  Add sugars and oil and mix.   Add the wet to the dry.  Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.  I am going to serve mine with last fall's crab apple butter I preserved....

An update:  This is the best gingerbread I have ever tasted!  It's fantastic....Paula, you are my hero...

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