Friday, December 21, 2012

Festive Friday: Lemon Cake with Shaped Gingerbread Center

Festive Friday: You can always find room to squeeze in a few more treats around the holidays.

When I first saw a peekaboo cake I knew I had to try it out for myself.  How do you get that shape in the center?  Let me tell you, that was the easy part.  It took 3 tries before I got the pan sizes right.  First not enough batter to cover the star, then too much batter erupting over the sides while baking.  Finally the right pan size and then I'm missing an ingredient I know I picked up at the store.  It feels like I've been waiting forever to show you this cake.  On the plus side, there was an abundance of lemon-gingerbread slices (errr, more like puzzle pieces) to nibble on while waiting.

The concept is quite simple; bake a loaf, slice and cut into shapes, pour opposite color batter over shapes, and bake again.  Knowing me, I made it much more difficult by choosing base recipes with lots of ingredients and steps.  The lemon cake is based on a recipe I planned to try out for Weird Recipe Wednesday.  It uses white beans in place of most of the butter, but don't be fooled you can't taste them at all.  Lemon and a splash of vanilla cover any hint of beans.  The gingerbread is extra spicy and develops even more flavor as it ages.

I was going to cut out a little gingerbread man for the center, but the right size cookie cutter must have run away.  It was likely scared off by all the giant gingerbread cookie cutters I found while ripping apart the entire pantry looking for the little guy.  When I found 6 or 7 sizes of star cookies cutters my decision was made.  If you catch a falling star cookie cutter and make a wish for a little gingerbread man what happens?  To answer that you actually have to catch the stars, dropping them sure doesn't get you any wishes.

Anyway, use cookie cutter you just washed after dropping it on the floor to cut out the center of each slice.

Pour a little of your second batter into a greased and floured pan then place your shapes in a line down the center of the pan.  Pour in the rest of the batter and you're ready to bake.  Try to pour the batter in as evenly as possible or your shapes will slide to one side, oops.

 All that work is worth it the fun factor when you cut off a slice.  A ginger-studded star tucked inside a luscious lemon loaf, or something like that.  At this point I just feel like saying, 'let them eat cake.' 

Lemon Cake with Shaped Gingerbread Center
lemon cake adapted from Joy the Baker


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 egg white
1/2 cup warm milk
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup molasses

Lemon Cake:
1 lemon
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cooked white beans (half a 15oz can)
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract

* For the gingerbread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 7-1/2 x 3-1/2 x 2-1/4-inch baking pan, set aside. In a medium bowl combine the flour, whole wheat flour, flax seed, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a small bowl whisk together egg white, milk, oil, fresh ginger and molasses. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients; stir just until combined.  Pour into prepared loaf pan and place pan on cookie sheet. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; do not overbake. Let cool in pan completely before proceeding to next step. (This bread tastes better the next day anyway.)
* Slice gingerbread into thick slices and cut out desired shape from the center of each slice.
* For the lemon cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2-inch loaf pan; set aside.  Finely grate lemon peel; set aside. Combine 1 Tbsp lemon juice with milk and let stand, mixture will curdle. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. Puree beans in a food processor until mostly smooth. In a large bowl combine bean puree, butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes. Add egg white; beat 1 minute. Add egg, beat 1 additional minute. Beat in reserved lemon peel, vanilla and lemon extract. On low speed, beat in half of the dry mixture until almost incorporated. Beat in the buttermilk.  Add remaining flour mixture and beat until smooth.
* Pour enough batter into prepared loaf pan to just cover the bottom. Place gingerbread shapes in a line down the center of the pan. Carefully pour the remaining batter evenly over the gingerbread. Bake 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. let cool in pan 10 minutes before transferring to wire cooling rack.

Food for Thought: "The most essential factor is persistence- the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come." -James Whitcomb Riley 

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