I have had a long weekend, fun and full of kitchen work, but very long. I am proactively drinking echinacea tea as I write this, since I know that it would be just my luck to be down on my sleep enough to be full out sick for Christmas...
I had the opportunity to help someone out by making desserts and bread, two of my most favorite things to make, for a family event she was hosting this weekend. I was making her my favorite gingerbread, but had forgotten what size pan I used to use since I haven't made it in a few years. (I know, how then could it really be my favorite?) Just the excuse I needed to make a trial for myself! It turns out that I like to make it in a bundt, but I only have a 12 cup bundt pan. It bakes up a little shy of that pan's intended capacity, but is so much prettier than using the suggested loaf pan. Just be sure you liberally coat the pan and flour it very generously, since it does tend to be a bit sticky coming out.
It really is just the best cake in general, let alone gingerbread cake, that I've ever had. It's nearly black and insanely moist, and keeps a full week! It could be politely spiced the ordinary way, but a full T. of grated fresh ginger assures you of surprising bite - easily balanced by all the other spices that would otherwise seem outnumbered. A full 1/4 t. of those fresh Spice House cloves almost seemed like it could be a mistake, but the ginger stands up to it.
As near as I can tell from the date stamp on the bottom of the purply paper I know was a by-product of my copy shop days, I think I was sent this in an email message from none other than GOP herself and must have printed it off on 12/24/2002. I would have to ask her to see if she remembers, or perhaps she will grace me with a comment! The most notable thing about the recipe is that its liquid comes from equal parts Guinness and molasses. The second most notable thing is that when the recipe tells you to heat them to a boil together in a LARGE saucepan, it isn't kidding around.
The first time I made this, I used a normal sized pot and the addition of baking soda caused a science experiment of epic proportion to slowly erupt over the sides and ungracefully coat everything in a beery, sticky mess. I deemed it worthy of the clean up since it was so delicious, but you should probably spare yourself the trouble.
(By the way, if you think you must invest in the Guinness to try this recipe, you must also make GOP's Guinness Oatmeal Stout Pie! Yes, you read correctly, I noticed she posted it on October 7 for a customer. It was always one of my favorites, and I think the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel even requested it for a reader and printed it awhile back. Click the GOP link above to connect.)
I'm surprised that the Guinness makes that much of a difference in the end product, but it truly does. I'd imagine that you could have better-than-average results with strong coffee as well, so don't let the absence of a beer in your pantry staples keep you from this amazing cake.
A quick Google search found the recipe that was no doubt attached to my original email, at Epicurious. I'll allow you to link up directly to the printer version, since that website takes quite a while to load sometimes since they have a lot going on. The last time I enjoyed a cake as moist and rich, it was no doubt the Mostly Foodstuffs Honey Cake. She even calls it the "Majestic and Moist Honey Cake", and I'm telling you I am looking forward to making that one again.
So, cake and breads are done and I am now moving onward and upward. Tamale "pasting" will begin directly after breakfast tomorrow. I was able to get to el Rey today to restock on my Guajillos that now along with garlic, are permeating the house, not that I'm complaining. I'm thinking I may just have to sample them for dinner tomorrow night if I get that far. I have a pound of Rancho Gordo's soaking to be transformed into a soup and a freezer stocked with baked goods to travel west along with us on Wednesday.
I can not really believe it is the end of December. I always lose track of the date, but I really thought I had an extra week in there somewhere that mysteriously evaporated. I wish I could slow it down a little, but I know as soon as Wednesday evening hits, it will. And I also know that I will not be sorry I'm making time to make the tamales.