Though chocolate is my favorite sweet, around this time of the year I love to bake with those warm, delicious holiday spices. You know the ones I’m talking about: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg.
Along with their unique flavors, I love their warm, comforting aroma wafting through the house. It wakes me up from the cold-weather coma that sets in in December and January. Ok, that might be a bit dramatic, but I’m still trying to grapple with the fact that winter is here. This week my daughter and I did our best to fight cold outside by staying in the kitchen to bake gingerbread with cinnamon icing. It was perfect.
The flavor of this dessert is exactly what I was looking for — the rich molasses and spices are sublime. If you really like ginger, you can grate it and combine it with the minced crystallized form instead of using the ground variety. If you do so, you’ll want about three tablespoons of each. Another nice thing about this gingerbread recipe is that is works equally well in regular regular cake form or in mini-bundts, like I chose to do.
They are the perfect make-ahead sweet snack, and they keep well for several days in an airtight container. The moist, tender texture alone is a nice change of pace from all the holiday cookies that come flooding in over the next couple of weeks. If you really want the full experience, make a hot chai latte and curl up on the couch with one of these. It makes watching the falling snow and wind-whipped trees so much better.
Gingerbread with Cinnamon Icing
Makes 24 mini-bundts
2 1/4 cups sifted (9 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (can be made by mixing 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar into 1/2 cup milk — let sit for 10 minutes)
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons milk (you may need a bit more or less)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Position an oven rack to the middle. If making mini-bundts, spray them with cooking spray or butter them. An 11 x 7 pan or a 9-inch square pan can also be used; butter the bottom and sides and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cocoa in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, molasses, sugar, buttermilk, milk, and egg on low speed. Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium until smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. As with all cakes, do not overmix. Pour batter into selected pan.
Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, 12-13 minutes for the mini bundts and about 40 minutes for the 11 x 7-inch pan. Remove mini-bundts from pan immediately and cool on racks.
To make the icing: mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon together. Slowly add the milk, a little at a time, until you get the desired consistency you want. You will want it so you can easily dip each mini-bundt into the bowl. Let icing harden before serving.
Source: Adapted from The New Best Recipes Cookbook
Laurie Jesch-Kulseth is a lifelong home cook who has always believed that eating healthy food is an important part of a balanced life. A wife and mother of two, she pours her heart into the meals she makes for her family. She photographs and writes about it all on her blog, Relishing It, where a version of this story first appeared.