Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Embrace The Temptation



Embrace The Temptation

The adorable photograph above so perfectly captures the dilemma of holiday eating, doesn’t it? Those two little girls actually grew up to be professional bakers and are now the proprietors of Pert Girl Baking Co. in New York City where they create mouth-watering rugelach available for order online, thereby affirming the possibility of making peace with temptation on a daily basis.

The Christmas season is fraught with culinary temptations unseen throughout the rest of the year and, for all but the ectomorphs amongst us, it must be negotiated carefully in order to avoid an unsettling January resemblance to Winnie the Pooh. But it’s difficult. I can pass up a chocolate Easter bunny without the slightest twinge. I don’t hanker for Halloween candy. Even the Thanksgiving feast, although famously scrumptious, is, for me, not such an extravaganza of caloric intake. But, Christmas. Gee. That’s a tough one. I do try to keep everything on an even keel during every other month, just in case I’m undone by fudge in December. Or coconut cake. Or Santa shaped sugar cookies. Or shortbread. Lord, the Shortbread!

You see, I do love to bake, and Christmas is, for the baker, the penultimate holiday. The fireworks of July, the dances of May, the parades of St. Patrick - all rolled into a sugar dusting, chocolate tempering, sifting, stirring, whisking, nutcracker of a time. It is well-known here that when the festive season rolls around, I am to be found in the kitchen, with flour on my forehead and a grin on my face. And it seems my list of those who clamour each season for my fudge or my gingersnaps grows ever longer with each passing year. The more the merrier, I say, for it’s true, I do love to bake.

The first of several holiday parties was held here at The House of Edward last week and I was ready with Cappuccino Cheesecake, Chocolate Fudge, Mulled Wine, and a brand- new cake, just for this season. Tell they you never to try out a new recipe for a party. But, who ever listens to “them”? For instance, I have a castle cake pan that I adore. It’s been a fairy castle, a haunted castle and was even once, for a summer baby shower, a sand castle complete with chocolate shells scattered along the turbinado sugar that masqueraded quite perfectly as beach sand. But for a Christmas party, what could be better than a gingerbread castle? You have to be a little careful with the recipes you choose for this pan as cakes that are too light tend to stick, and of course, a stuck cake....?? Quelle Disaster! A denser cake works best and I was lucky enough to discover this recipe which proved not only delicious but which made the entire house positively redolent of gingerbread. Happily it worked perfectly, turning out of the pan with a satisfying “plop” and every turret intact.
Sprinkled with powdered sugar “snow”, decorated with spice gum drops and served with a warm lemon butter sauce, it was the perfect Christmas cake. I’m sharing the recipe for the cake and the lemon sauce, and you can find a castle cake pan all your own HERE.

Embrace the temptation!
And Have Fun Baking!

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Gingerbread Pound Cake

1 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup sour cream
Powdered sugar

Lemon Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 fresh lemon juice

Directions:
1. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer, beating well on medium speed.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each.
3. Combine flour, soda, and spices. Set aside.
4. Combine molasses and sour cream. Lightly whisk together.
5. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with molasses mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
6. Mix until just blended after each addition.
7. Pour batter into a greased and floured pan. (Note: if you are using the castle pan, I find it sometimes difficult to get every nook and cranny greased well enough to prevent sticking. There is a product called Baker's Joy that works wonderfully for this. I highly recommend it)
8. Bake at 325 F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the cake's center comes out clean.
9. Cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then remove and let cool on a wire rack.
10. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar "snow".
11. Serve alongside a small pitcher of Lemon Sauce.

For the Lemon Sauce:
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan and stir with a whisk until smooth.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly till smooth and thickened.
Add remaining ingredients, cook till heated.
Serve warm alongside cake.


Finished cake, taken just before it was sprinkled with snow!

34 comments:

  1. I love to think that you are in your cozy cottage kitchen baking & making with Edward & Apple watching on with contentment... Ah... your fudge is such heaven.... Did you say you are making LOTS of gingersnaps?!?

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  2. I love to bake...and I also love it when it goes wrong!! Made some very nice discoveries that way..
    You can always sprinkel lots and lts of "snow"to make it look spectacular.
    Have fun baking dearest....

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  3. "Embrace the temptation." Love that! I decided to diet my way through the holidays. What was I thinking? So far, so good. But that photo of your castle cake may have tipped the scales. Not to mention that recipe!

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  4. Sounds delicious!! But know what you mean about the temptation. I'm giving in tonight to homemade ice cream from a (relatively) local dairy farm that has their own creamery. My husband goes with a cooler!

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  5. Your cake looks so good that I'm just going to have to bake it. Ginger cake and lemon....a lovely combination. Thanks.

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  6. Oh Pamela... I know just what you mean! I hosted my second party of the season last night and did all the baking myself. I sent people home with desserts hoping to get temptation as far away from me as possible. But you know what? I woke up this morning at 6 with a hankering for eggnog bread pudding and got to work on it. By the time my lovely ones were awake, it was waiting for them.

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  7. I love your posts. When I begin to read, I feel as if I am stepping into another world. So lovely and enjoyable!

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  8. Cute castle! But my mind stopped moving on the words Cappuccino Cheesecake. Swoon!
    The other day I made a batch of sweet chilli jam - it is my favourite Yule gift to give because it is so completely divine.
    My mother's baking is wonderful, and I'm terrified of the possible weight gain as we head to my family's this Christmas. Should I...Embrace the tempation?

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  9. If ever I receive an invitation to dine at your cottage, I will book the first flight there! Absolutely lovely, Pamela!

    (Ha! Word verification: lentifly)

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  10. Fortnums have just delivered mince pie flavoured shortbread. The jury is out on what it will taste like.

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  11. Pretty cute, that castle! Nordic ware, eh? Who knew!

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  12. Oh Pamela,
    Could you come and live near me and be my friend ?!!!! I want to come to your house and indulge in all things cakey and Christmassy !!
    The Songwriter must know that he's the luckiest man in the world. My poor husband loves anything sweet and made of cake and, unfortunately, I am a savoury kinda gal when it comes to cooking !! I have got better over our 34 years of marriage and now indulge in making a few sweetmeats as well as the savoury.
    Your cake looks perfect and, I might even invest in a castle cake tin!! XXXX

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  13. Oh, Pamela, what a lovely cake. I have looked at that castle pan dozens of times and wondered if cake would plot out - now I know and will not hesitate the next time I am at the cooking shop. Forget the word temptation and just indulge in enjoying the holiday's. Best wishes for the season to you.

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  14. Merry Christmas and thanks so much for this recipe

    Much love and many blessings
    Love Jeanne

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  15. Gingerbread is a favourite; I wonder if it travels well?!

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  16. Am dieting right up to Christmas Eve just so that I can embrace the temptation!

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  17. I'm hungry just reading this gorgeous post! Leigh

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  18. Oh Pamela temptation is abound this season, food, drink, sweets galore!

    This year I am truly making the holidays a gentler and simpler time of love and peace.

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  19. Oh Pamela, your cake is gorgeous! I am in love with your tablescape too...those bunny candlesticks are wonderful! So, so charming...I derive a great deal of pleasure from baking too. One of the many reasons I adore this time of year. Thanks for the recipe. I will definitely try it!

    H.H.

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  20. I think I am coming to have Christmas with you, Edward and the Songwriter this year!
    With storms overhead, temperatures in the 90's we tend more to fruit salads and pavlovas at this time of year except Christmas Day which has to be plum pud of course!
    Besides you mentioned my favourite word....fudge!!!!!! xx

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  21. That photo is wonderful.
    I think I may try the ginger cake. Don't think we have cornstarch though, what is it?
    I love fudge too.....

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  22. Pamela,
    I thought you had me at coconut cake, but then you said gingerbread and castle and I died and went to heaven for a moment!

    I'm with you, I could live without all the other holiday sweets throughout the year, but Christmas? Not ever!!! This receipe looks wonderful as did your finished cake!
    xo,
    ~Rebecca

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  23. Beautiful! Leila loves to bake, so I just ordered my castle pan. We are going to have so much fun. I wonder what kind of castle she will design?
    Happy, Delicious Holidays Pamela!

    xo
    Brooke

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  24. I embrace the bakers of this world, with their enthusiasm and skill.My gingerbread house collapsed recently with roofing problems, and the jubes slid sadly to plop on the leaning gingerbread tree below. I knew it would never pass the elves building inspection, and looked like it was waiting for a Housing Inspection Order to be slapped on it. I underpinned it with icecream sticks, which didn't do much for the cause. Perhaps the elves will put in a good word to Santa for me,for a castle cake tin,though Santa would no doubt say "For who??? No, not a good match."

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  25. Well...how enchanting is that?! Thanks, ever-so for the recipe, too!

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  26. I do love that photo – great expressions. How fun that they grew up to be bakers. Yummy – thanks for the recipe! The end result looks beautiful, almost too good to eat.

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  27. I have that pan Pamela and have pictured on my blog the sand castle cake I make for my daughter's birthday each year....I love how the cake comes out...I have to admit I never thought of using it for a holiday cake....Thanks for the fantastic idea! And the fantastic recipe!

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  28. I love to bake, too. It is probably the holiday tradition that I enjoy best . . . and honestly, I don't even feel guilty about indulging. I eat gingerbread men and/or fruitcake for breakfast . . . 'cause there is always oatmeal porridge (again!) in January.
    Your castle is heavenly. The house must have smelled delicious! Someday, when I have more storage space, I will have to indulge myself with one of those pans. I assume the pound cake will work just as well in loaf pans?

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  29. Ooo, this cake sounds devine. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    I love to bake, especially at Christmastime. Baked goods are often my gift to friends and, of course, family. I have not, however, started to bake yet and must get to it soon . . .

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  30. Thank-you for sharing the recipe! I intend to give it a try. I anticipate it to be delicious. As always I love your blog, your talents spill through in everything you do!
    Happy Holidays, Liz

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