The Sticky Gingerbread of My Dreams

Gingerbread cake Serving 2

I began this exploration with a question. “What is the difference between sticky and regular gingerbread?” Put another way, “What makes sticky gingerbread, well, sticky?” A couple of rounds of baking later, I had identified the differences. Namely, sticky gingerbread starts with a fluid, molasses-heavy batter, which, if not over baked, creates a beautifully moist cake, which if wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two and then brought back to room temperature, has a dense, chewy, somewhat sticky texture.

Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

Closeup of Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

I know, I know! Molten Chocolate Cake, or Lava Cake, as it is sometimes called, is so YESTERDAY. I am almost perturbed today when I see one on a dessert menu.

I mean, really, can’t the pastry chef think of SOMETHING ELSE? Haven’t we moved beyond warm, fragrant, oozing, fudgy chocolate soufflé cakes and their requisite ice cream accompaniments?

Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake

Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake

I have a confession to make. This is not a new cake. I created it at the tail end of LAST YEAR’S All Chocolate! All Month! celebration, and then in the excitement of planning a slew of new spring recipes, forgot to post it. In fact, I forgot it altogether. Until yesterday.

Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

Close Up of Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

It’s All Chocolate! All Month! in the LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen. As usual during the Month of Love, I am covered in chocolate: milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa powder. All in an effort to come up with the most delectable, memorable Valentine’s Day dessert ever.

Lime & Vanilla Scented Rhubarb Clafouti

Lime & Vanilla Scented Rhubarb Clafouti

Clafouti (pronounced klah-foo-tee), a simple French custard-cake, is the perfect foil for the fresh fruit and berries of summer. Formulas vary wildly from one end of the spectrum (custard) to the other (cake). I love trying them all, and I’ve shared two of them with you already. What I am sharing with you today is a chewy, cake-style clafouti with a sweet-tart topping of lime and vanilla-scented fresh rhubarb.

Heavenly Almond Yogurt Cake with Fresh Strawberries, Strawberry Caramel Sauce & Basil Sauce

Almond Yogurt Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Strawberries, Fresh Basil Syrup & Cream Cheese Crema

When I happened upon the inspiration for this cake (Gourmet Traveler Magazine, Yoghurt & Almond Cake with Orange-Caramel Peaches & Vanilla Yoghurt), I puzzled over the ingredient proportions and procedure. Was there enough fat to produce a moist cake? Was there enough flour to produce a cake that could carry its own weight? Was the egg proportion too high?

Chocolate Almond Pound Cake

Chocolate Almond Pound Cake with Glazed Strawberries

I have been dreaming of creating a chocolate and almond paste pound cake for some time now and have finally done it. The impetus was Valentine’s Day of course but maybe even more this gorgeous, nonstick Nordic Ware quilted heart cake pan.

Deep, Dark, Spicy Gingerbread with Coffee Glaze

Spicy Gingerbread Cake with Coffee Glaze

It never fails. When the temperature drops like a rock and snow is in the air, I start craving gingerbread cake. It’s one of those ultra-comforting sweets that has so sparked bakers’ creativity over the years that it now boasts hundreds of variations. Maybe thousands. Look at the lineup of gingerbread cakes on TasteSpotting.

However, for gingerbread inspiration this year, I had only to open the new Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café cookbook by Harvard educated mathematician turned professional baker, Joanne Chang. I scored the cookbook earlier this fall while at the South End location of Joanne’s Flour Bakery in Boston.

Spiced Green Apple Lemon Clafouti

Spiced Green Apple Lemon Clafouti, Serving on Plate

I ran into an interesting clafouti (pronounced klah-foo-tee) formula in an old magazine in a box in the garage recently and almost dismissed it because there can be no better clafouti than Fresh Apricot Ginger Peasant Cake.

As you may recall from that post, clafouti, an earthy cake from the region of Limousin in France, is comprised of a layer of cake-custard, topped with a layer of juicy fruit. The result can be rather more like cake or rather more like custard, depending on the proportions in the batter.

Heavenly Chocolate Beet Tea Loaf

Sliced Heavenly Chocolate Beet Tea Loaf

Bless your heart if you are actually reading this post rather than running for cover to another food blog. Yes, I know this combination sounds a tad bit unusual, but I assure you it is Pure Genius.

Lest you think I’m being immodest here, the idea is not mine. The combination was recently featured in Gourmet Traveler, and that’s where I first encountered it.

Heavenly Parmesan Sour Cream Pound Cake

LunaCafe's Heavenly Parmesan Pound Cake

A few weeks ago, I posted a story on Metrovino’s Parmesan Pound Cake (Portland, Oregon), which I hope you had a chance to read. It’s all about my adventures with this extraordinary cake (the creation of Metrovino Executive Chef Gregory Denton and Chef de Cuisine Gabrielle Quiñónez), both in the restaurant and in the OtherWorldly testing kitchen.

Metrovino’s Parmesan Pound Cake

Metrovino's Parmesan Pound Cake, My Version

Nearly a year ago, at the newly opened Metrovino restaurant in Portland, Oregon’s Pearl district, I spied a dessert on the menu that sounded so implausible that I was honestly expecting NOT to like it. I mean seriously, parmesan cheese in a pound cake? I had never heard of, much less tasted, such a combination–even though I have a library full of dessert cookbooks and am always on the lookout for creative, out of the ordinary flavor combinations.

Luscious Candied Lemon Sage Tea Cake

Luscious Candied Lemon Sage Tea Cake

Sometimes I get lucky. I have been working on the quintessential lemon cake for years, and although I have encountered a couple of formulas that are quite lovely in their own right, they are not exactly what I have in mind.

Fresh Apricot Ginger Peasant Cake

Apricot Ginger Clafouti - Fresh from the Oven

There is a simple, earthy cake in the French culinary repertoire, from the region of Limousin, called clafouti (pronounced klah-foo-tee), which is an especially delicious way to treat fresh fruit and berries in summer. My version is more cake-like than custard-like. In fact, it contains no eggs and yet has a decidedly chewy texture, which everyone who tastes it loves. I don’t recall where I stumbled on the unusual formula here, but I have not encountered it anywhere since.

Rhubarb Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb SourCream Upside-Down Cake

Tea cakes, bundt cakes, coffee cakes, pudding cakes, and pound cakes were the kind of old-fashioned cake that my farm-raised, Mennonite grandmother always made. “Nothing fancy,” she would say, but fresh from the oven, fragrant, and utterly delicious with a pot of freshly brewed tea.

Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Coffee Cake

Spiced Pumpkin Sour cream Upside Down Cake with Caramelized Cranberry Hazelnut Topping and Orange Cream

After several testing sessions and a review of dessert cookbooks par excellence, SMS Bradley’s recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Coffee Cake with Caramelized Cranberry Hazelnut Topping is now perfection. An absolutely luscious Fall cake.