‘Tis the season for all things delicious and a fine time for wonderful classics like gingerbread, though I’m on heavy-duty gingerbread overload right now. I’ve made more than a dozen gingerbread houses for both professional and personal projects, a few types of cookies for gifts and taught a fancy decorated ornament class. The house smells permanently of molasses and spice. It’s rather festive and beats a Yankee Candle any day.
A few weeks ago, I had my crazy group of friends over for a long overdue Sunday Lunch to laugh, drink, eat and catch up. Since I’ve returned from my summer travels, I’ve been a bit remiss in keeping up the Sunday Lunch tradition so it was time to get back on track. It was a good one too. I had recently returned from a fantastic female butchery retreat weekend spearheaded by my fabulous friend Kate and had a freezer stuffed to the gills with amazing heritage pork products – 7 different kinds of sausage, several types of charcuterie handcrafted by these fabulous women and a bunch of other wonderful things. It was time to share this miraculous bounty.
Grrls Meat Camp Charcuterie
Roasted Grrls Meat Camp Sausage – 7 varieties
Sautéed Red Cabbage
Rancho Gordo Christmas Lima Beans with Grrls Meat Camp Bacon
Old Fashioned Gingerbread with Bourbon Sauce & Honey Roasted Pears
For dessert, the mood called for something spirited and winter-y. I mentally scrolled through my list of possibilities and remembered a lovely gingerbread cake I haven’t made in a while. With a delicious bourbon sauce and some honey roasted pears, it fit the bill – dark, spicy but mellow, comforting. The honey roasted pears, from this recipe, were the perfect accompaniment but they take a while in the oven so plan accordingly. And the sauce. Oh my, this sauce. It stole the show. Butter, cream and bourbon, bourbon, bourbon. WOW. In fact, the cake is great on its own but let’s be honest. After the second bite, it pretty much became a delicious vehicle for sopping up the sauce.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: FA LA LA LA LA LOVELY. This screams Christmas loud and clear. And how can it not filled with cinnamon, ginger, molasses, butter and bourbon? That’s what holidays are made of. It’s perfect for your holiday table and the best part is it can all be made ahead of time. If you’re really smart, you’ll make extra sauce because that stuff will be gone in no time.
OLD FASHIONED GINGERBREAD WITH BOURBON SAUCE
Makes one 9” cake; serves 8-10
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
½ cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons bourbon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven.
- Cut a parchment square to fit cleanly in the bottom of an 9” square pan. Spray the pan with cooking spray and line with the paper square.
- Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt; set aside.
- With the paddle attachment in a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add molasses and beat until well blended. Scrape the bowl.
- Combine the boiling water and baking soda (careful, it’ll foam); add to the butter mixture, mixing to combine. Scrape the bowl.
- Add the flour mixture in 2-3 increments and beat until batter is smooth, scraping the bowl once more.
- Beat in the eggs on medium speed until smooth, then add the bourbon and mix until just combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out on a rack.
- Serve warm or room temperature with warm Bourbon Sauce.
Makes 1 cup; can be made 1 week ahead, keep refrigerated
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup bourbon
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Whisk in remaining ingredients – brown sugar, cream, bourbon, salt, cinnamon.
- Simmer until thickened, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly. Best served warm and easily reheated.
- Note – between the butter and cream, the sauce may separate. Do not be alarmed. An easy fix is to buzz it with a stick or immersion blender until emulsified or pop it in the blender and give it a whirl. Once you buzz it back together, it’ll stay that way.