Saturday, January 4, 2014

Blueberry Gingerbread Cake

It's 2014.


Wait a minute, I feel like we're having deja vu.  I feel like we were just having the same conversation about how crazy it was that it was Labor Day.  And talking about a recipe that has blueberries baked into a delicious bread batter.  And swooning over how delicious Maine blueberries are. 

Yup.  That's exactly what's happening.  Again.  And I'm into it. 

Only now I look outside and all I see is a magical winter wonderland instead of a late summer sun-glistening lake.  And those blueberries, they're the same.  Except they've taken a long winters nap in our freezer, patiently waiting to awaken on a cold day like today and make everyone feel warm and summery and nostalgic.  

This recipe puts a summery bright burst on a winter holiday favorite: gingerbread.  The deep sweet of molasses with a ginger spice is perked up just enough by the bright freshness of the blueberry.  And oh, the amazing summer flavor is still there.  It's there and it's awesome.  You close your eyes and get lost in the time warp.... and in the end you don't care what time of year it is.  All you taste is delicious. 

Because what do you do when it's -11 degrees outside?  You bake, and you bake with what you have.  And if that means pulling out part of your summer harvest from the freezer, all the better.

Also, consider this Winter Blueberry recipe as Recipe 1 of 2 - with another coming your way tomorrow.  It's even more get excited.

And in the meantime, get bakin'.

Blueberry Gingerbread Cake

Adapted from Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pan
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting finished cake
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, essential for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour parchment and sides of cake pan, or spray both with a nonstick baking spray.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan (or large one, if you’d like to make the cake entirely in there) and add baking soda — it will foam up! this is fun! Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in butter until melted. Whisk in dark brown sugar, molasses and fresh ginger, if using. Mixture is usually just lukewarm by now, but if it still feels quite hot to the touch, set it aside to 10 to 15 minutes to cool further before using.

Place flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking powder in a fine-mesh strainer or sifter so that you can sift them over the wet ones in a minute.

Transfer molasses mixture to a large mixing bowl if your saucepan isn’t large enough to make the batter in. Whisk in eggs until just combined. Sift dry ingredients over wet, then stir the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer cake to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once fully cool, cut around cake to make sure no parts are sticking to the side and invert cake out onto a rack, then onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares. Please, promise you’ll serve this with lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream. They’re made for each other.

Do ahead: Whipped cream needs to be stored in the fridge, of course. Cake keeps at room temperature for up to a week in an airtight container. 

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