Last month I had the pleasure of attending the winter menu tasting at Pallet, a relatively new restaurant in Salt Lake City (instagram photos can be seen here and here). The food was great and the entire evening was lovely, but one particular dessert stood apart from everything else.
It was a slice of heavily spiced gingerbread slice served with poached pears. The table got a single serving to sample along with other plates of tasty treats, so I only had a few bites, and I wish I could have kept the gingerbread all to myself.
They called it Lafayette Gingerbread, a variation I hadn’t heard of before. I searched the internet for a recipe and this version comes pretty close to the one served at Pallet. Legend has it that this gingerbread recipe is named for General Lafayette who fell in love with it after George Washington’s mother served it to him in 1784.
So what makes this version of gingerbread different from others? I can’t say exactly, but it does get an extra boost of flavor from buttermilk and orange juice and zest, in addition to a heavy dose of molasses and spices like ginger and cinnamon. It’s gingerbread for gingerbread lovers, and perfect for this time of year.
Alternating wet and dry ingredients
In many cake recipes (including this one) there are instructions to alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar. Believe it or not, this is for a good reason.
Adding the liquid all at once will saturate the creamed butter mixture and cause the batter to separate. Adding all of the dry ingredients will cause the batter to be thick and likely result in over mixing, which will yield a tougher cake. Instead, add them in two or three additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir ingredients after each addition, but only until just combined.
A tender cake rich in molasses flavor and warm spices. Serve with whipped cream for a nice holiday dessert.
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup (225 ml) molasses
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
- Zest of 1 orange
- Whipped cream (for serving)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and mix until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and orange zest. In another small bowl, whisk together the orange juice and the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.