Yesterday I shared a once-a-year show-stopper of a holiday cake, and no lie – it takes some time and effort. Also, it kind of makes a mess. All worth it for an appropriate occasion, yes, but a mess nonetheless. Today’s cake is the complete opposite. This cake gets made in no time, uses a minimal amount of utensils and dishes, doesn’t need any frosting, and yet may be one of my favorite cakes I’ve eaten in a long time.
This is real gingerbread, yo. Old-school, classic, old-fashioned, straight-up gingerbread that offers no apologies for being what it is. Gingerbread is a very assertive cake with strong, in-your-face flavors and not a ton of sweetness. A lot of times, it gets watered down and all but changed in favor of a sweeter, lightly spiced cake calling itself gingerbread.
Not this version here. The spices are rightly heavy-handed, the molasses flavor is thick and musky as it should be, and the sweetness merely waves from the back row. I found it completely delicious and utterly satisfying. Perfect for a last-minute Christmas dessert. Enjoy!
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup molasses
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup warm water
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting the cake
Orange zest, for garnish
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking dish.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and molasses and beat until smooth and well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until just combined. Stir in the warm water until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Be sure not to overcook it, as it will harden a bit as it cools.
While the cake is still warm, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top, as much or as little as you desire, then sprinkle evenly with the orange zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.