Friday, June 14, 2013

Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake (is fairy delicious)

Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake
Well, lords and ladies of your own kitchen tables, I made a magical recipe for my book club this month (the real one, not the one I fake started online to motivate myself and still haven't finished...).  We read a compilation of rewritten short fairy tales by Emma Donoghue, Kissing the Witch.  The book was fine - a great quick, LGBTQ reworking of 13 known stories - but the recipe, my friends, came to me in a vision sent by my very own fairy godmother: my stomach.
I mean, they're fairy tales, right?  We're all familiar with the ol'poisoned apple trick, right? And how you should never ever enter a gingerbread house if you find one in the woods, even if it smells really good and you're really, really hungry, right?  This also comes to mind.  Naturally, my mind first jumped to conclusions of a caramel apple nature, but I a) don't really like said caramel apples, and b) I wanted to make it poisoned...which in my mind equals booze.  In this case, rum, because rum+cake generally portend good things.   Judge away, teetoallers; this one is for you! I also really, really like gingerbread.  It's so good, you guys.  Double naturally, I just had to combine these things.  And so I did - behold, my glorious, beautiful, Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake!

Oh look!  It's my busted ugly stepsister of a Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake!
Errrrr...that is one busted ugly stepsister of a cake!  Guys, I think I got my yearly recipe collapse syndrome out on this one.  Or else an evil witch cursed me.  I'm inclined to go with the former, though.  Does anyone else suffer from this?  (I know some of you chocolate banana fiends just had a case of it!)  Like many Grimm fairy tales, this cake did not have an attractive ending.  Some of the cake decided to stay put in the Bundt pan, half came out, and the remaining pieces tragically fell into my mouth...

Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake
(so good I suspect it's laced with a love potion)
Long story short, this is a delicious, but super heavy and moist cake.  My oven also tends to overcook, and I was a little more proactive about not doing so, to the point where though it was cooked, it probably should have been a little more dried out, almost erring on the overcooked side (especially because you'll be adding more moisture at the end).   In the end, though I was sad it was a supremely unattractive cake, it almost worked.  I mean, it's supposed to be poisoned, right?  It looked pretty dodgy!  More importantly, the flavors more than make up for it. I'm pretty sure I actually laced it with a love potion, not poison, because it is so delicious, to the point where I ironically ate so much that I got a stomachache...from ginger. Luckily there are MANY fairy tale adaptations (some included below the recipe), that you can use it for many book clubs of your own - let me how yours turn out!

Tips and Notes:
- Don't mess around with preparing your pan.  Grease it up, and then generously flour it down.  Seriously.  Look at my cake.  I'm not joking.
- The next time I make this, I plan to sub in 1/2 cup of wheat flour to see if it helps dry things out a bit.  If you do, let us know how it turns out!
-  I used a combination of Blackstrap molasses and Corn Syrup, because that's what I had.  The original recipe suggests just using dark molasses.  Pick your poison (ba dum?).
- Make sure that the cake is well cooked.  Prick with a skewer to test, and when it comes out clean, give it approximately 5 more minutes.  I'm dead serious; there's a lot of liquid in this one.
- If you are lazy, you can mix the cake all in one bowl.  This might, however, be why the gods of Pastry and Dessert smote me...whatever.  If you want to mix it in multiple bowls, check out how Smitten Kitchen does it.
- I used Flor de Cana rum, straight from my Nicaraguan aventuras.  Use any rum, dark or light, you've got though!
- I used Fuji apples, and would recommend sticking with a sweet, slightly sturdy type that will soften but still hold the rum mix and some semblance of shape.  I consulted the Apple Lover's cookbook!
- I got this recipe from a holiday cookbook released by my graduate school; it had been adapted from Smitten Kitchen, where it had been adapted from the Gramercy Tavern.  I also looked at The Apple Lover's Cookbook, where there is a chaste and different version of an apple gingerbread cake, and The New Best Recipe, for rum glaze ideas (isn't anything involving rum subsequently glazed, especially your eyes?)

Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake

Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake


Poisoned Apples
1/2 cup dark rum
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Fuji Apples (or similar sweet and sturdy brand), diced in large pieces

Gingerbread Cake
1 cup oatmeal stout (any stout but chocolate will do)
3/4 cup Blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Double Dose of Poison
1 Tbsp dark rum
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

  1. Start on your poisoned apples.  Bring rum to a boil over medium-high, and stir in honey and cinnamon.  
  2. When combined, lower to medium, add the apples, stir to coat, and cover.  Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring every minute to two to ensure the apples are equally cooked and lightly softened.  
  3. Set aside, covered, to cool, and proceed with your innocent gingerbread cake.
  4. Preheat oven to 350.
  5. Prepare your baking pan (Bundt, 9 3/4 cake pan with 2-3 inch sides, 2 loaf pans) with butter or spray, and dust with a generous coat of flour.  Look at my cake; take this seriously.
  6. Bring the stout and molasses to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high.  Note this is initially tough to notice, due to the natural bubbly qualities of the stout!
  7. Turn off the heat, stir in your baking soda, and watch the miracle of science create a bubbly chemical reaction!
  8. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, spices, eggs, sugars, oil, and molasses mixture until the batter is smoothly combined with no flour lumps or bubbles.  
  9. Pour the apple mixture through a strainer into a bowl, retaining the liquid for later use, and allowing the apples to drip-dry out a little bit.  
  10. Pour the batter into your (seriously) prepared pan.  
  11. Evenly distribute your well-drained apples over the top of the pan with a spoon.  
  12. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the cake springs back at your touch, and a skewer comes out clean. Remember, this is a very heavy and moist cake, so it is better to error on the side of overcooking, as you will be adding moisture back in anyways.
  13. Let cool for at least 10 minutes so you don't get third degree burns, and then invert over a drying rack, hoping for the best. 
  14. Now onto making damn sure your cake will be poisonous!    Mix remaining rum into reserved juices.  Either pour this mixture directly onto the top of your inverted cake, let dry a bit, and dust with confectioners sugar, OR add the confectioners sugar directly to the liquids to stretch it and pour this over the top.   Either way, ooey-gooey-poison mastered, you wicked witch, you!
  15. Serve this with whipped or ice cream, a sturdy spatula, forks, and a bounty of napkins.  
Don't mind me, guys.  Just poisoning some apples, casually. 
Stout in the cake, rum in the apples, trouble in mind.

Poisoned apples, added!
Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake
Cooked, commencing cool down
Poisoned Apple Gingerbread Cake

Titles to serve this with*:
  • Fables, by Bill Willingham
  • My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father, He Ate Me, edited by Katie Bernheimer
  • Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm, by Phillip Pullman
  • Cinder, by Melissa Meyer
  • Ash, by Malindo Lo
  • Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede
  • Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
  • Into the Wild, by Sara Beth Durst
  • East, by Edith Pattou
  • The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale (or anything by Shannon Hale)
  • Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carlson Levine (or anything by Gail Carlson Levine)
  • Spindle's End, by Robin McKinley (or anything by Robin McKinley)
  • Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen
I could go for DAYS, people.  Pass on your favorite/suggested fairy tale adaptations in the comments.

*Yes, this has rum, and is probably a cake best for grown up book clubs.  But it cooks off, so you can omit the added rum in the second dose of poison.  Or not.  Best way to make a sleepover party actually include sleep? (Shocking, that I don't have kids, huh?!)

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