Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gingerbread Cake and Oma & Opa, Julie & Andrew

Gingerbread Cake for Opa

With my grandparents wedding anniversary and late grandfather's birthday this week, my mom was inspired to make his favorite cake. My mom and Oma sat down together and reconstructed the recipe they hadn't made in years. There was some trial and error, but this is what they remembered. 

And it tastes great! 

Gingerbread Cake, Opa's favorite. Photo by Robert Giglio. 

2 cups sifted flour
1 2/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup LIGHT brown sugar
1 to 2 tsp ground ginger (to taste)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground clove
1 cup shortening (unsalted butter is best)
1 large egg beaten
1 large egg, separated
1 cup molasses

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Sift together regular flour and a cup of the cake flour. Reserve the 2/3 cup cake for later.
Sift together blended flours, salt, soda, baking powder and dry spices.
Cream shortening with brown sugar until misture is open and fluffy.
Beat the yolk from the separated egg into the large beaten egg. Reserve extra egg white for later.
Mix the beaten eggs and molasses together until well blended.
Add the flour mixture gradually to the creamed sugar. Blend in flour.
Add the molasses mixture to the creamed shortening and beat thoroughly. If mixture is too thin, add some of the reserved cake flour. Try 1/3 cup first, slowly. Then add more, if needed. If mixture is too thick, add some of the reserved egg white to thin it. The mixture should be pourable.

Pour into greased/floured pan and bake at 350 for the first five minutes.
Lower the temperature to 325 and bake another 10 minutes for 1/2 inch layer of batter and another 20 minutes for 1 inch layer of batter.
Test for doneness with a toothpick. Makes one 9x13 cake or one 10x5x1 inch jellyroll pan.
Cool and Frost ... or enjoy with whipped cream or ice cream.

for the frosting ... 
the following is a praline-like, soft fudgy topping

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1.5 oz. (1 square) white chocolate or almond bark
2-4 tablespoons butter: depends on desired end consistency
2 egg yolks*
2/3 cup pan toasted, flaked coconut (can increase to 1 cup)
1 cup shelled, pan toasted pecans
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flavoring (coconut or vanilla or arak or combination)

Toast the coconut and pecans in a sauté pan on a medium fire. Set aside. Beat 2 eggs yolks. Melt butter in large frying pan and let it brown slightly. Pour in ½ of condensed milk and stir on low heat. Add other ½ milk to egg yolks and beat thoroughly. Pour yolk and milk mixture gradually into pan, and mix thoroughly over low heat. Mix in salt. Add square of white chocolate to pan, stirring milk mixture until all is melted and blended together. Raise heat to medium, and bring mixture to boil. Stir and cook 8 minutes at boil.  On low heat add cinnamon, coconut and pecans. Raise mixture to boil one more minute. Take off heat and stir in extract or extracts of choice. Pour immediately over cooled cake. It will set very quickly.

To reheat: add a little water to soften, and stir until thoroughly heated.

*Thank you to my mom's hens Tina and Fey for the lovely eggs. 

Tina by Robert Giglio.

October is for Lovers ... 
Two special anniversaries on one autumn day 

To some people, October 15 may not be very romantic. But, in our family it is a very special date.  My grandparents, John and Charlotte (later known as Opa and Oma), were married on this date in 1949. Sixty-two years later, my sister Julie married her husband Andrew on the same date.  Monday was their one year anniversary.

October 15, 1949

October 15, 2011

Opa passed away just before I was born in 1989, and it is a shame I never got to know him. But with his anniversary and birthday this week, we are all thinking of him —which is why my mom baked the gingerbread cake, it was one of his favorites.

I would like to take a moment to remember Opa and share some things about him.
- His name was John J. John and he was very handsome.
- He loved my grandmother dearly, even when she did silly things like this.
- He loved his LSU Tigers. He and Oma had season tickets.
- He was a Korean war hero who would give village children his food, even if it meant going hungry.
- He is missed every day.


  1. I love that your recipes have a sweet story and some history behind them - really enjoyed reading this post!

  2. Thanks Stacey! I just think food creates such a wonderful connection. That means a lot coming from someone with such enjoyable posts as well!


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