Friday, December 24, 2010
Gingerbread houses: the baking, the building, the decorating. Ordinarily I'd say, what's not to love? The thing is, there is something not to love, and that's the gingerbread. Frankly, I'm not all that fond of the sturdy (ahem) gingerbread that's typically used in gingerbread houses. Perhaps some people are content with the only fun part being the decorating, and perhaps some people actually like the traditional gingerbread, but I'm not one of those people--I want to play with my food, but I also want to eat it. Fortunately there's a different way. If you ask me, it's a better way.
Years ago I happened on a Martha Stewart gingerbread house recipe that used not the hard, unappetizing type of gingerbread, but gingerbread cake. I can't for the life of me find the recipe, and I don't even remember if the cake was anything special. The key thing was the concept. If you make a gingerbread house using cake, your problem will be keeping yourself from eating all your construction materials before you even start building, rather than the guilt over throwing out something you baked but can't bring yourself to eat.
This cake is a ginger-lover's cake. Indeed, with two tablespoons (!!) of ground ginger and a tablespoon of fresh ginger, it might even be too strong for people whose feelings toward ginger don't rise to the level of fervent admiration. Again, I'm not one of those people. I've tried other gingerbread cakes before, ones that gave a cursory nod to the ginger flavor but ultimately left me wanting more. Not this one. Here the warm, spicy ginger flavor comes through beautifully against the hearty, stout-enriched cake. I enjoyed building and decorating my little house, but for once I think I might have even more fun eating it.