molasses cake

Before I started to commit myself to making this cake, I did a quick Google search for “cake made with sprinkles”. Yeah, it’s been that kind of week. Not exactly a good week emotionally (the weather hasn’t really allowed for that), but a week where I’ve painted my nails bright pink and am looking at aprons with ribbons and flowers and polka-dots and trying to figure out what I can put rainbow sprinkles in other than the frozen yogurt we have in the freezer. Turns out though – as it always does – that I don’t really have any of the right ingredients to make a proper frosting. So I kind of had to put the kaibosh on that idea (for now!). So, here I am, with a molasses cake.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love molasses. It’s one of my favorite cookie/cake flavors, next to cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin. When I discovered the two bottles of molasses in the back of our pantry a few weeks ago, I’d bring up the fact that I should “do something with them” at least every other couple of days. I just didn’t really get around to it until now.

I should have just made cookies.

Yes, I’m admitting it right now, for all the world to see. I, your humble food blogger, screwed up. I failed.

Okay, I lied. I didn’t actually fail (failure was never an option). But I did screw it up somewhere along the lines. And I know! I know! You’re looking at the photos and then at me and then back and forth again. And then you narrow your eyes and go: “Where, exactly did you screw up. Because, uh, that cake looks pretty good. Explain yourself!”.

We’ll get to that later though.

My first problem was that I was pretty much one-hundred percent sure that we didn’t own a bundt pan and, well, I kind of needed one. I had decided that maybe I could use a different pan, like a loaf pan or a regular cake pan but I wasn’t sure how that would work. I was already considering just giving up when I dug around in a cabinet and there, tucked away in the back, was an old bundt pan. It was a miracle! A miracle I say! Problem solved.

This recipe is messy. It doesn’t seem like it would be when you’re putting together the dry ingredients but then you get to the wet ingredients and you’re dripping molasses and oil and sour cream all over the place (that sentence sounds sexy but, trust me, it’s not). So, you know. I don’t recommend making this while wearing your best clothes. I did pretty well not getting any on me but I can’t really speak for the rest of you (you klutzes!).

I was nervous, making this. I mean, I’m usually pretty nervous when jumping in head-first with a recipe I’ve never made before but I was extra nervous this time because some of the measurements kind of freaked me out. Two and a half teaspoons of baking soda? That seemed like a lot. One cup of canola oil? Really? Two tablespoons of ground ginger? Wow. The only thing I changed was how much ginger I put in because… that is just seriously a lot of ginger and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wound up putting in just about two teaspoons instead and it was fine. Also, the recipe calls for “light molasses” and… what is that? I don’t know. The kind we have is called “full flavor”, whatever that means. I’m guessing it isn’t “light”. Let me just put it this way: I didn’t use “light molasses” and the cake still tasted really good. It came out a bit darker than it would have if I used “light”. But tasty nonetheless.

Overall though, this is a pretty damn easy recipe. For the most part, all the ingredients are something you probably already have in the house (maybe not sour cream but it’s kind of a staple in our fridge these days. There was one week where we ran out and the fridge seemed positively empty without it) (I like how I assume it’s the sour cream you won’t have and not, say, the molasses or the ground ginger. I have priorities! And also a great ability to misjudge what other people normally keep in their pantries! It’s truly a gift!) and it takes only a few minutes to stir it all together. I love recipes like that (stating the obvious by this point, I guess).

I can hear you. You’re like: “Get to the part where you screwed up okay! That’s all we care about!”. So. Okay.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but our oven has been on the fritz lately. When a recipe, such as this one, calls for the oven to be lit at 350 degrees, I have to turn it up to 360 degrees. It’s just become a thing now. When we bake, we turn the oven up ten degrees hotter than it calls for. The cooking time (rarely) changes. Just the temperature. I figured that would be the case now. So, I turn up the heat, I stick the batter in and I let it go for the recommended fifty minutes. Yeah, well. It didn’t quite go as planned.

I wasted the time by uploading the photos I already had taken and starting to write the blog post and going through next week’s grocery flier. Fifty minutes all but flew by and, when the timer beeped, I nervously opened the oven and pulled out the rack only to reveal a rather wobbly cake. Sure it had expanded, but it was pudding. It was molasses pudding. I grumbled and groaned and sighed and then put it back into the oven for fifteen more minutes. FIFTEEN. I don’t even remember what I did to pass the time. Talked to myself probably. Harassed my cats. The timer beeped again. I pulled it out. And put it back in for another five minutes.

After that, it was finally finished. So, instead of fifty minutes, it took seventy. I’m not sure what I did wrong, if anything at all. I suspect it’s the oven because, as I said, I don’t think I made any mistakes with the recipe. For what it’s worth, I doubt it’ll even be a problem for you should you ever attempt to make this cake. But I figured I should mention it anyway, in case you run into a similar issue.

So, yes. After seventy whole minutes of waiting, I shoved my cake tester into the cake and pulled it out to reveal a relatively clean piece of metal. Success! I ran a knife around the edges but I didn’t really have to (the shortening and flour pretty much helped it to stop from sticking, which, you know, was point of doing it in the first place, I realize).

Normally I wouldn’t bother being fancy and sprinkling the top with powdered sugar (yes I consider powdered sugar to be fancy get over it!) but I wanted it to look pleasant for it’s photoshoot and also it just looked so darn sad sitting there, all brown and plain. I’m not saying the cake is ugly though (that is exactly what I’m saying). I should have made a glaze! I should have. I am just thinking of this now. Oh, well. Next time.

The recipe offers suggestions as to what to serve it with (whipped cream or caramel sauce) but I didn’t have either of those things! And I am frustrated that they just assumed I would! But we do have that frozen yogurt I mentioned. And cake plus frozen yogurt/ice cream is a magical combination for me. I was kind of nervous to take that first bite as I sat down to watch Jeopardy but I shouldn’t have been. Dare I say, my mouth had a food orgasm. Is that too crude? Too bad. I’m writing this at 4am and that’s the only accurate description that came to mind. I loudly exclaimed that this cake was “really good!” a couple of times and then I sheepishly remarked that, oh, I don’t like bragging (I am a filthy liar. I love to brag. I just don’t think anybody should know that so I pretend to feel guilty about it. Admittedly, my sheepish remark was an after-thought of me going “this is actually amazing!” and then “maybe that is inappropriate to say repeatedly!”).

Seriously, folks. This is really good. This is really easy. What is stopping you from making it? Absolutely nothing.

(It took me longer than it should have to finish writing this because I decided to check my tumblr and see what my friends were up to which led to me realizing there was a new episode of Would I Lie to You? and so, of course, I had to find it and watch it and then I started reading… things. I kind of forgot about the post. I know this doesn’t really matter right now but I thought you should all know anyway.)

(Also: I apologize that these photos look kind of weird. The weather was positively bipolar yesterday.)

Southern Molasses Cake
from My Baking Heart

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (or 2 teaspoons) ground ginger
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup light (or “full flavor”) molasses
1 cup canola or corn oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Position an oven rack on the middle rung if possible. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease with butter of shortening and flour the bottom and sides of a 12-cup fluted Bundt or other fluted tube pan, tapping out the excess flour.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir until well blended. In a medium bowl, combine the molasses, oil, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Whisk until well blended. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and add the boiling water. Stir with a rubber spatula just until blended, using the whisk if necessary to get rid of lumps. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 43-50 minutes (if, after 50 minutes, it hasn’t cooked through, bake for another 20 minutes).

Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for about 15 minutes. If necessary, run a thin knife around the pan to loosen the cake. Invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the pan so the fluted side is up. Set aside to cool completely. Using 2 long metal spatulas or your hands, transfer the cake to a flat serving plate. Sift powdered sugar over the top or prepare a simple glaze.

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3 thoughts on “molasses cake

  1. reikiflower says:

    most likely took longer due to the size of the pan … steam pudding pan other than a true sized bundt. well made adjustment!!

    and trust me everyone, it IS a yummy cake. very. Well done!!

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