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Sunday, February 13, 2011

St. Valentine's Day Gingerbread Cake

This recipe is a deliciously light and bright gingerbread. My son, Max, says that it's unusual because it reminds him of Spring, instead of Christmas. It does have a special quality to it that reminds me of fresh air and summery days. It tastes wonderful with fresh whipped cream or a simple scoop of ice cream. I'd like to share it with you here, before I permanently move it to The Little Catholic Kitchen.

I think it would also be delightful to serve for St. Valentine's Day. At the very least, your kitchen will smell divine!

You could use a heart-shaped cake pan. If you do, please keep in mind the volume of this batter, so it doesn't over flow. I bake it in a 9" x 13" x 2" pan, and the baked cake fills it to just below the rim. Perhaps you'd like to bake it in the oblong pan, then cut it into a heart shape after it's cooled, which I describe below. The cake is firm yet springy, so it shouldn't crumble under your hands if you choose to do this.

This cake tastes great the day after it's baked and keeps well, but it's at its very best while it's still warm or soon after cooling. If you choose to serve it warm with some ice cream or cool with a drizzled glaze, it would make a wonderful and fresh St. Valentine's Day treat.

Happy St. Valentine's Day, everyone!

St. Valentine's Day Gingerbread Cake

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 extra-large egg
1 c. molasses
1 c. hot water
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 heaping tsp. Saigon cinnamon
1 heaping  tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" x 2" pan.

In large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Set aside.

In mixer, beat together sugar and butter until fully incorporated. Add egg and beat again. Add molasses and dry ingredients, then beat until combined. Add hot water, then beat again until the batter is smooth.

Pour batter into cake pan. Bake on oven's middle rack for 35 minutes, or until skewer inserted comes out clean and cake is slightly pulling away from sides of the pan. Let cool in pan on wire racks.

To make this a special valentine, here are some ideas:

For a large valentine, turn the cake out of the pan when cooled. Then cut the cake into a heart shape. First cut the heart out of paper to be sure you are happy with the proportions. Place over the cake for sizing. Then using a sharp knife, cut the cake into the heart shape. Cut the left over pieces into small squares for snacking. They are delicious in a lunch box! Decorate the heart with confectioner's sugar or drizzle it with a simple glaze of confectioner's sugar, lemon extract, and water.

For small valentines: When the cake has cooled, use a sharp knife to divide it into 12 even pieces, then remove the pieces from the pan. Using paper and scissors, make a little stencil of a heart that will fit over the center of each piece. Be as creative with the heart and design as you'd like. Place the stencil on each cake piece and gently sprinkle confectioner's sugar over. Carefully lift the stencil straight up to remove it. Hold it over the sink and shake it clean before moving onto the next cake piece.

Ladies, if you have any ideas of how to embellish this delicious treat, please leave a comment and share them with us. Thanks!


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