“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened”
― Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
There I was, longing for something sweet. Whatever I was going to make had to be easy, I didn't have the energy. It couldn't involve many ingredients, I hadn't been to the store in at least a week, probably two. The silent snow falling outside made me long for something homey and warm.
I walked over to my cookbook shelf. Opened one book, flipped through and put it down, too fussy, I concluded. Picked up another, no success. Just as I was about to give up, I picked up Great Desserts a neglected cookbook from 1989, that I probably scored from a thrift store, but who can remember? Almost immediately I turned to page 75, Ginger-Molasses Skillet Cake, under the chapter called Old Favorites. The picture was everything I was looking for. Homey for sure, along with ginger and molasses, I knew I had found what I was longing for.
|before going in the oven|
|just out of the oven|
I got to work. This was a fast and easy undertaking. I think searching for my molasses in the pantry took me the longest. This batter was finished just as my oven came to temperature. An almost effortless cake indeed.
|This picture was taken on Wednesday 1/18, the bird is sitting on snow accumulated on the deck rail. The other photos below were taken on Tuesday. Overnight we had record breaking snow fall.|
But what would it taste like? Would it be worth dirtying the cast iron pan along with a saucepan and a bowl? Should I have faith that I will enjoy it and whip up some cream to accompany my cake now? Yes, I determined. I should whip some cream because I always have a use for freshly whipped cream.
|my little guy, Lucien enjoying the snow|
The cake emerged from the oven, the halls of my home wafting with warm spice. I placed the cake on the rack to cool. The smell was intoxicating. I waited all of 5 minutes before indulging in the tempting cake. I took a bite. Heaven, I thought. Moist cake rich with the comforting flavors of molasses and ginger. The edges crackly and chewy from the iron pan. For the second bite, I removed the cream from the fridge and added a dollop. The cream melting in my cake was a perfect addition, a fluffy and luscious element to offset my spicy cake.
|birds in the snow|
Life was good.
|Our deck Wednesday morning|
|On Wednesday I had to push away snow to get to their birdhouse. This picture was taken before I filled their food.|
The original recipe calls for a 12 inch cast iron pan. I used that size and the cake is on the short side, it's fine, but if given a choice I would use a 9 or10 inch pan for a slightly higher cake. If you use a smaller pan, just keep in mind it will take longer to cook. Also a note about the black pepper. I couldn't taste it in this cake. The cake is spicy in a very good way, but I couldn't tell there was black pepper in it. So don't fret about it. But if it scares you go ahead and leave it out.
Ginger Molasses Skillet Cake
this cake was inspired by one from the book, Great Desserts
1 1/2 cups (150 g.) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup (150 g.) packed brown sugar, divided
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2/3 cup (160 ml) plus 2 Tablespoons molasses
2/3 cup (160 ml) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sweetened freshly whipped cream-optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 4.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In a medium saucepan add 3/4 cup of the brown sugar, 6 Tablespoons of the butter, and 2/3 cup of molasses, stir over moderate heat until melted and well combined. Add the milk and vanilla, set aside.
Place the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, the 2 Tablespoons of butter and the 2 Tablespoons of molasses in a 9,10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet. Place the skillet in the oven to melt the butter and heat the skillet. When it's melted stir it and remove from oven (use an oven mitt).
Stir the wet ingredients in the saucepan into the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon just until smooth.
Right before you pour the batter in the skillet, using a brush or the back of a rubber spatula push the bottom glaze up the sides of the pan and distribute it evenly throughout the skillet. Then pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 20-30 minutes (it will take only 20 ish minutes for the 12 inch skillet, it will take longer if you use a 10 inch or slightly smaller pan.), until a toothpick comes out clean. Don't forget to use an oven mitt moving the pan after it's done.
Serve warm from the skillet with freshly whipped sweetened cream (if desired.) And give it a dusting of powdered sugar if you want.