The Holiday Home ~ Preparing
A Book Review (& Giveaway!)

Coffee & Gingerbread for Mum's Birthday


Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

My mother's birthday is tomorrow, but since tomorrow is a very busy day for all of us, we decided to celebrate her birthday this morning after church. I've also been waiting for just the right occasion to make that delicious gingerbread I had at my friend Kim's house earlier this month. What can be better on a cold November's day than a warm and sticky old-fashioned gingerbread, slathered with homemade whipped cream? Not much, I tell you.

So let me share the recipe with you straight away (since I promised it a loong time ago) and then I'll have a few pictures from our day. :)

Hot-water Chocolate Gingerbread (from The Boston Globe, circa 2002)

Makes 1 large cake or enough to serve 12*

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups molasses
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons hot tap water
  • 2 cups boiling water
  1. Set oven rack in the center position. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper, butter the paper and flour the pan, dusting out the excess.
  2. In a bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer, beat the sugar, molasses, and oil on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
  5. Stir together the baking soda and hot water. Quickly beat it into the batter.
  6. With the mixer set on low, add the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time.
  7. Remove the beaters from the bowl. With a rubber spatula, stir in the boiling water until thoroughly combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake for 60-65 minutes, rotating the pan from back to front after 30 minutes. The cake is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center springs back quickly after pressing lightly with your fingertip.
  9. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool. Cut a sheet of parchment or waxed paper larger than the cake. Turn the cake out onto it and carefully peel off the paper from the bottom of the baked cake. Use a large sharp knife to trim the edges on all four sides to expose moist crumb, then cut the cake into 3 1/2x3 inch pieces. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

*Kim's notes ~

  • Expect too much batter for your pan. Fill your pan only 3/4 of the way full. Toss remaining batter or use for cupcakes.
  • I think the cake would be dry if you waited for the top to spring up. The center can take too long to cook and the edges would dry out. When the cake starts to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean (more or less), it's done.
  • I don't trim the edges; that's a waste of perfectly good cake.

And now on with our day ...

... which began - can you ever guess? - bright and early! (I know you're wondering, does her day ever not start bright and early, lol? And the answer to that would be yes; sometimes it's very dark.) This early rising has its advantages, however. For one thing, on Sundays, you have all kinds of time to eat (and digest) before infringing upon the hour's fast before Communion. For another, you have plenty of time to whip up a multi-step gingerbread cake before heading out to first Mass. Well, almost. I was just able to get the cake into the oven, slap-dash myself together and then leave Bill with (two sick kids and) detailed instructions re when to turn and when to test.

And an hour later we returned home with Nana and Papa, as we do every Sunday, but today the house smelled of more than just freshly brewed coffee. Today the air was thick and warm with dark, rich gingerbread!

Now all we had to do was wait for Uncle Matt to join us. The two younger boys set up vigil in the doorway:


In the meantime I got the cake all ready. It came out of the pan like a dream, and as Kim advised I didn't bother trimming any edges. I even waited on the whipped cream till we were serving. I just added these lollipop candles that the boys had picked out (though they might have been balloons ~ there was quite a dicussion over this).


And the concensus? Very, very yummy - but very, very rich. I couldn't even finish my piece (though I did have seconds on the whipped cream). I think I'll make this at least once or twice during the Christmas season. What a fabulous way to use up all those unopened jars of molasses in my pantry!

Naturally, Nana got some help blowing out her candles, and then we sat back with our coffees and visited for a while. Mum and I synchronized our calendars (babysitting requests) while Bill, Dad and Matt talked up the Pats ... meanwhile the boys kept themselves busy, poring over toy ads and coughing every two minutes (into their elbows when reminded).


Happy Birthday, Mum ~ We love you so much!

Well, I hope you all had a great weekend. It went by so fast, didn't it? And now the boys are in their pj's (some of them never got out!) and kick-off is near, so I will sign off till tomorrow ... Good night!