52 Cookbooks #8: Gingerbread

This week I'm going sweet and using an American cookbook that I've not cooked from before: All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray.  It was another Christmas present (are you spotting a theme yet?) and was chosen alongside my bundt tin present and it has lots of bundt cake recipes. I've used the tin, but not the book...

Being an American book, that brought its own challenges with the recipe calling for vegetable shortening, all purpose flour and baking soda. I discovered that Waitrose sells Crisco which satisfied the need for all-vegetable shortening. I've not used this before so that was quite an experience.

Despite coming straight out of the fridge it was supersoft, which I can see being a major advantage for anyone like me who forgets to take the butter out of the fridge ahead of starting to bake... With Google as my friend I translated the other ingredients to plain flour and bicarbonate of soda. 

So, game on.

It was unusual to bake using the American cup measurements, and I wasn't sure how it would turn out. The recipe calls for 1/2 a cup of boiling water and provides a handy tip for beginners to boil more water than 1/2 a cup and measure the boiling water... Right, got that :)

The book itself - despite being square (why do publishers do that? It means the book doesn't fit neatly with most of my other cookbooks on the shelf) - has a good number of recipes I'd like to try, so it's definitely a keeper. The chapter names also made me chuckle:

  1. Easy cakes for early enthusiasts 
  2. Bring me bundts and bring me more spice and vice!
  3. Break from cake
  4. Layer cakes, angel food cakes, moderately sinful cakes, all on the road to heaven and hell 

It didn't look too impressive when it came out of the oven though it had risen a fair bit while it was cooking:

I left it to cool and to be honest forgot about it. Much later on when I remembered it I decided to cut it into squares, trying any that sort of crumbled...

The verdict:

  • It tastes good, although is a bit unusual as it has the taste of a gingerbread man (or woman) but is a cake. 
  • It would be good with either some simple water-based icing, or even some buttercream (or cream cheese topping maybe - I've only got the type with garlic and herbs, so will give this a miss!)
  • I'd make it again (and add a topping of some sort) and it'd be good to have with tea or for a cake sale. 
  • I now need to explore further recipes in the book as I've got some all-vegetable shortening on the go!

Oi! Mr Fox hands off!