Monday, December 14, 2009

the sisters come together to realize a dream

It wasn't my dream.
Once upon a time, my sister had a cranberry upside down gingerbread cake. I had the same cake, well, not exactly the same cake, but from the same bakery, same cake, sent at same time of year, Christmas. And I thought it was gooey, in a sort of overly macerated way, slimey. My sister thought it was moist; damp in a wonderfully soft and luxurious way, not a dank and fetid basement way.
So she has toiled for years trying to duplicate it, and it seemed that either she got a cranberry upside down cake, or she got a gingerbread with cranberries ascended through the batter to clump near the top. There was an ascension, but she wasn't in heaven.
So my sister visited me, and in between dog walks where we had to pull the dogs off the half grown fawn, literally, (see Venison pie) we worked on her dream.
We started with Dori Greenspan's recipe for cranberry upside downer. And we didn't chop the cranberries, although, I think we should have and Laurie Colwin does for her Nantucket Cranberry pie. We used the spice blend from Laurie Colwin's gingerbread, my sister loves that gingerbread. And we thought that a gingerbread needed molasses. I believe there is an entire post devoted to that question. So we cut back on the milk and added 2 TB of regular molasses. That one was insipid. For the next one, we kept everything the same but added an extra TB of black strap molasses. On that one we glazed half of the finished cake with melted black current jam. It was supposed to be red current jelly, but this was what we had.
At first my sister was overjoyed. The cranberries stayed on the bottom and when the cake was turned out of the pan, it looked just like a cranberry upside down gingerbread cake. She danced around the kitchen, took pictures and sent them to her husband. I thought we had done it.
And I thought it tasted great. She was pleased at first, but as she worked her way through the 3 small pieces, the insipid one, and 2 better ones, one w the glaze and one w/o, she grew dissatisfied. It needed more sugar, maybe more ginger, maybe more molasses, different molasses. I thought the cranberries should be chopped. Other than that, I was pretty happy.
We decided that gingerbread might be like pumpkin cake for me, I just don't like it enough to be a really discerning judge. If it tastes pretty much ok, well, that's about the best you can expect from gingerbread. Pass the whipped cream.
My sister will continue to pursue her dream. I'll probably just make the cranberry pie with exactly the right amount of almond extract.