christmas stout gingerbread

A couple of months ago, I got a surprise package in the mail from a "secret admirer". Obviously, I can't stand secrets and not knowing the full story ... so I called the company and demanded they tell me who the package was from. I appeased to the gentleman's good heart by telling him that I can't send a proper thank you note without a person. He fell for it. But, I did mean that. I like to thank people for their thoughtful gifts ... especially this one.

The admirer = my grandfather. The gift = an appropriately themed care package based on my annual shipment of Irish Soda Bread. The box included a seriously gorgeous baking dish with a celtic cross in the bottom, a classically beautiful Irish dish towel, and a bread mix. It took me awhile to find the appropriate thank you but I finally got there.

Logically, it would make sense to send back some Irish Soda bread ... but that just didn't seem creative enough and I love to try new things. So, I kept my eyes peeled for something that would be appealing to my grandfather. I stumbled upon this recipe for a stout gingerbread loaf and knew I had struck gold. My grandfather loves many things in life, but being Irish and Guinness are two. This recipe is really interesting because I think if you looked really closely at the ingredients you might get overwhelmed and think it'll too "spicy". But, thankfully ... it isn't. It's really quite awesome in fact.

The original yield for this recipe is just one big ole loaf - but that isn't super great for sharing! So, I modified and made two smaller loaves and a bunch of muffins. The muffins had a dual purpose. They allowed me to share this with even more people than normal AND to actually try the recipe myself. Quite often I make things and then never really get a chance to try them. It just isn't super cute to cut a personal slice off of a loaf of bread before you put it in the mail.
I highly recommend you give this loaf a shot and I can see it becoming part of my Christmas baking rotation - but perhaps with more muffins. I topped one with a little powdered sugar and dominated it when I got back from yoga ... in front of my Christmas tree. Big win.

Here's how it goes.

(Step 1) Preheat oven to 350°F.

(Step 2) Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature. You really need to watch this heating because in a flash it'll boil up and over your pot ... and all over your stove. I know from personal experience.

(Step 3) Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl.

(Step 4) Whisk together eggs and sugars in a large bowl. Seriously, a large bowl - there is a lot of liquid coming your way. Then, whisk in oil and lastly the room temperature molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

(Step 5) Pour batter into pan. If you opt for the muffin tins, treat them just the same as you always would. Give the pan a sharp whack on counter to eliminate air bubbles.

(Step 6) Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Rough times? Big loaf = 50 mins. Small loafs = 35-40 mins. Muffins = 30-40 mins. I expected the muffins to cook faster but they just didn't. No biggie. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes before taking it out of the pan.

Shopping List (original recipe from the Gramercy Tavern)
1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

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