Gingerbread spices have ancient historical roots and feature a complex interweaving of tastes that is second to none when it comes to holiday baking. This cake — full of warm-yet-citrusy cardamom; heady notes from the allspice, clove, and cinnamon; and depth of sweetness from molasses — delivers all the cozy, familiar tastes of the season with a bit of heat and pizzazz thrown in the mix.
The result is an intoxicatingly fragrant cake with a delicate but still tight crumb. The next time your afternoon get-together requires a casual, company-friendly cake, consider this gingerbread Bundt.
Tips for a Better Gingerbread Bundt
This cake, baked tall and proud in a Bundt pan or in a kugelhopf pan (a fun option with its towering and Germanic peaks), is a great choice for a beginning baker, as it's mostly a matter of measuring out ingredients.
While you can customize the dried fruit, there are a few things that can't be changed.
- You will need buttermilk. The chemistry of buttermilk with the leaveners makes the cake rise in a way regular milk simply can't. You can make a buttermilk substitution with milk and vinegar that works very well if you don't have any on hand.
- You have to use cake flour: With less protein, cake flour develops far less gluten than all-purpose flour. It ensures that the cake will never be a fruitcake doorstop.
Gingerbread Bundt Cake
Cooking spray containing flour, or cooking spray and 2 tablespoons cake flour
1/2 cup currants, golden raisins, chopped dried figs, or a combination
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large eggs
3 1/4 cups cake flour, divided
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground anise
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or 6 to 10 scrapes from a whole nutmeg
1/2 cup toasted, blanched, slivered almonds
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons silver or white sanding or finishing sugar, or silver dragées (optional)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt cake pan or (4x9-inch kugelhopf pan) with cooking spray that contains flour, or coat it with cooking spray, dust with the 2 tablespoons of flour, and then shake the excess out; set aside.
Mix the dried fruit, Cognac or brandy, fresh ginger, and vanilla together in a small bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the brown sugar and butter on medium speed until lighter in both color and texture, 5 to 5 1/2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stop the mixer.
Place a fine-mesh sieve over another bowl and strain the dried fruit mixture into it. Reserve both the liquid and the fruit. Pat the fruit dry with a paper towel and place it in a small bowl, add 1/4 cup of the flour, and mix just until the fruit is coated; set aside.
Add the buttermilk, reserved fruit soaking liquid, and molasses to the egg mixture and beat on medium-low speed until combined.
Place a sheet of parchment on a work surface. Sift the remaining 3 cups of flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, allspice, coriander, cloves, anise, salt, pepper, and nutmeg onto it.
Slowly add the sifted dry ingredients to the egg and butter mixture, and beat at medium-low speed until just incorporated. Add the reserved fruit and almonds, and beat on low just until combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is toasty-brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes.
Place on a wire rack. Once the cake is cool to the touch, invert it onto the rack and cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar, cream, and ground ginger in a medium bowl until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is very smooth, adding more cream as needed for the desired consistency. Drizzle the mixture liberally over the cooled cake, letting it drip into and down each ridge. While the glaze is still wet, dust with the shiny finishing sugar or sprinkle with the dragées, if using.
- Storage: This cake will keep at room temperature, lightly covered or tented with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen prior to glazing and allowed to come to room temperature before serving. Do not refrigerate, as the cake will become quite stale.