With only two weeks left before Christmas, I'm sure many of you have already started attending and hosting holiday parties and gatherings, whether it's at the office, or at home with family and friends. If you haven't been to a party just yet, then you probably have one coming up in the next few days. If the idea of what to bring to your next holiday gathering is making you a bit nervous, don't be! Dessert is one of the easiest things to bring to any kind of party. People always save room for dessert, so you can be sure that any dessert you bring to your holiday party will be enjoyed by everyone. Now, if you still have no clue what to bake, don't worry, I've got you covered, and so do the folks at Hodgson Mills. This year, I was invited to take part in their annual "Have a Grain Holiday!" contest. The rules were simple. All I had to do was bake up something delicious that would be perfect for holiday gift giving or parties, full of seasonal flavors, and made with whole wheat flour. I was really excited to have been given the opportunity to participate, but there's something even more exciting. A GIVEAWAY! Yes! A giveaway that's perfect for all you holiday bakers out there. Just read to the bottom of this post, right before I share the recipe, for all the details.
I love whole wheat flour in breads and pancakes and muffins, but I'll admit that I'm not too experienced in actually baking with whole grains. Eating whole grains is another story, because I'm all about that, but my whole wheat baking expertise could use some more refining. My initial thought for this contest was to create a delicious and seasonal whole grain muffin that could work as part of a holiday gift basket, but I changed my mind and decided I wanted to challenge myself a bit more. I had never ever ever attempted to make a cake with whole wheat flour, and I thought that a cake would be a great way to meet all the requirements of the contest. Creating something seasonal seemed simple enough (or hard I guess, given all the combinations and flavors I was trying to decide between), and what says party more than cake, right? It was the cake's texture that I was worried about. I was afraid that the cake would turn out dense and heavy if I used whole wheat flour, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. Once I narrowed my flavor choices down to gingerbread, I decided to make a large sheet cake using half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour to balance it out. This sheet cake ended up changing my opinions on baking cakes with whole wheat flour. I literally could not believe how fluffy and moist this gingerbread cake ended up being. It was as though it had been made with only all purpose flour! It sounds crazy, but it's true. This gingerbread sheet cake has the goodness of whole grains but the fluffiness that is normally associated with all purpose flour. Needless to say, I was pretty ecstatic with the results.
This gingerbread sheet cake could not be any simpler to prepare. It's really just a matter of gathering the ingredients, quickly mixing them up, and pouring them into a sheet pan. Simple, right? Indeed! It only takes about ten minutes or so to mix everything up and get the cake into the oven. I think the part that took me the longest was actually grating the fresh ginger. I had what I thought was a big piece of fresh ginger root, but I ended up having to grate about half of it just to get the quarter cup of fresh ginger that I needed for the recipe. Now, I know that a quarter cup of fresh ginger sounds like a lot, and it is, but if this seems like it's too much spice, you can certainly adjust the amount of ginger you add to the recipe. I'm one of those people who happens to love ginger (gingersnaps are a weakness of mine), so I loved the warm ginger spice that the cake had with a quarter cup, as did my dad. My mom and my sister thought there was a bit too much spice, however, and suggested lowering the amount of ginger in the recipe. I'm going to leave that decision up to you though. If you like your gingerbread on the spicy side, then add the full quarter cup of ginger. If you like a more mild gingerbread, lower the amount of ginger in the recipe to three tablespoons. Just make sure to use fresh ginger, as it has a zing that powdered ginger just can't match.
What's great about this recipe is that it's adaptable. If you want some gingerbread cake to snack on at home, you can easily make this in a 9x13-inch pan for a slightly taller cake (simply adjust the baking time) and leave off the frosting. I know that this would be a cake I'd definitely have trouble resisting a bite of. If you're in a party kind of mood though, the sheet cake version of this recipe is the perfect seasonal dessert to make. It's warm, spicy, and festive, and because it's a sheet cake, it can easily feed a ton of people, making it an ideal option for a party. You can get 24 nice sized pieces out of this sheet cake by slicing it into 4 rows horizontally and 6 vertically, so it's perfect for larger parties, or smaller parties of very hungry gingerbread loving people. I chose to finish off the sheet cake with a spiced cinnamon cream cheese frosting, as I thought it would pair nicely with the spiced cake. If you want something that will help mild out the spiciness in the cake, you can leave the cinnamon out, as I'm sure a vanilla cream cheese frosting would still be a refreshing complement to the spiciness of the cake. However you chose to make this cake, it's sure to become a new addition to your holiday baking plans and make an appearance at all kinds of festive occasions. Enjoy (read on for the giveaway instructions)!
Giveaway time! Hodgson Mills is nice enough to sponsor a giveaway right here for the readers of Ambrosia! If you'd like to receive a $25 assortment of Hodgson Mill flours or gluten free products, enter the Simply enter your email address using the form below and that will count as one entry. Then, you'll get another two bonus entries via Facebook and Twitter! Easy enough right? One lucky reader is going to get a nice bit of help for their holiday baking, hooray! This contest is available to US residents only.
Also, there's another chance to win some great Hodgson Mill products if you don't get a chance to enter the giveaway here. Hodgson Mill is currently running its 25 Days of Grain Holiday Sweepstakes, in which you can enter to win an assortment of $25 worth of Hodgson Mills products. Until December 25, you can enter the sweepstakes through the Hodgson Mill Facebook page for a chance to win your choice of organic whole wheat flours, baking mixes, or gluten free products. One winner will be selected each day, so why not give it a shot?
Good luck to everyone!
Gingerbread Sheet Cake with Cinnamon Frosting
For the Cake
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
3-4 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (adjust to taste)
1 cup hot water
For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Lightly spray an 18x13-inch sheet pan with nonstick baking spray and flour, shaking off any excess. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, and spices, and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, molasses, brown sugar, eggs, and ginger at medium speed until combined.
Add in the flour mixture all at once, and mix only until just combined. Mix in the hot water. The batter may look curdled, but it's alright. Mix the water until it is incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Set the sheet pan on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the cinnamon cream cheese frosting. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the powdered sugar, and cinnamon.
Once the cake has cooled completely, cover the entire cake with the cream cheese frosting with an offset spatula, using the spatula to create pretty swirls of frosting. Add some white nonpareils to decorate the top of the cake if desired. Cut the cake into squares to serve, and enjoy!
Makes one 13x18-inch cake, or 24 servings
This post was created as part of a collaboration with Hodgson Mills's "Have a Grain Holiday!" Contest. I received a sample of Hodgson Mills products to create the recipe in this post, but all opinions and ideas are my own.