Brown butter brings nutty flavor to aromatic, spiced gingerbread

Fall demands that leaves leave. Acquiescing, they fall. 

 After which, they lie in wait. For what remains unclear. Mine looked perfectly happy lazing around in heaps that faded from red and orange to brown and brittle. 

 I liked the crinkle underboot, the flurry that followed the dog, the nutty scent of the season settling. It put me in mind of nut-brown gingerbread, spiced with cinnamon, cloves and pepper. 

 Eventually I gave in, locating rake, tarp and Saturday. Friday I slid to sleep on good intentions and awoke to a deep drift of snow. Relieved of rake duty, I was relieved to read that leaving the leaves can be good. They serve as comforter and snack to the dozing plants. 

 Good things happen inside too — like lazing around, sinking gingerbread deep into a drift of whipped cream. 



 Prep: 20 minutes 

 Bake: 50 minutes 

 Makes: One 9-inch square gingerbread 

 About 1 tablespoon softened butter, for greasing pan 

 2 1/2 cups flour 

 5 teaspoon ground ginger 

 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 

 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

 Pinch of ground cloves or black pepper? Up to you 

 3/4 cup molasses 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up 

 1 cup whole milk 

 4 eggs 

 1 1/2 cups sugar 

 Whipped cream, optional, but very good 

 1. Prep: Generously butter a 9-by-9-by-2 (or 3) inch square baking pan. Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

 2. Whisk: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda and optional cloves and/or pepper. 

 3. Brown: Measure molasses into a quart-sized heatproof measuring cup. Heat butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Let sputter until nut-scented and the bottom of the pan is flecked with brown bits. Start checking at 5 minutes, but it may take as long as 14 minutes to brown. Whisk brown butter (and all those nice brown bits) into molasses. Whisk in milk. 

 4. Whip: Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip eggs until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Still whipping, cascade in sugar. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Whipping on medium speed, drizzle in brown butter mixture. Scatter on flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Scrapes sides and bottom again and mix in any recalcitrant streaks. 

 5. Bake: Pour into prepared pan. Bake until springy in the center and cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 50-52 minutes. 

 6. Serve: Nice warm, with whipped cream.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Food

How to prep and enjoy a mango, the sunniest fruit in the grocery store
How to prep and enjoy a mango, the sunniest fruit in the grocery store

I adore mango in so many forms. Puree as the base of an Indian dal (lentil dish). Chutney to go on a grilled cheese sandwich. Frozen in ice cream. But fresh? I always seemed to walk by those giant crates in the grocery store. In fact, it was not until I bought, oh, a dozen or so for the purposes of this very story that I realized how much I had been...
The scoop on Swedish Candy: It’s more than fish
The scoop on Swedish Candy: It’s more than fish

Candies scooped into shiny pink bags and sold by the pound are a Swedish addition to the Lower East Side. Licorice items, marshmallow-filled chocolates, cola-flavored drops and all sorts of gummies fill the little self-serve bins. It’s the work of Swedish expats and is actually the second Swedish candy store in New York (there’s Sockerbit...
Even the gelato is infused with mezcal at Claro
Even the gelato is infused with mezcal at Claro

It makes sense for a restaurant that specializes in the food of Oaxaca to feature mezcal, the smoky agave-based spirit that dominates the region. At Claro in Brooklyn, T.J. Steele, the chef and an owner of the restaurant, also has a brand of mezcal, El Buho. He has worked with Il Laboratorio del Gelato in Manhattan to create four gelatos flavored with...
Sick of kale Caesars? Toss this together.
Sick of kale Caesars? Toss this together.

I used to like a kale Caesar as much as the next vegetarian. But its ubiquity has ruined it for me. Now, no matter how much I massage those leaves or make sure my dressing is nice and punchy (thank you, garlic), I find myself missing good old lettuce. I often want more from a salad, too. If meat eaters can bastardize their Caesars with chicken or shrimp...
The sweet potato: World colonizer all by itself?
The sweet potato: World colonizer all by itself?

Of all the plants that humanity has turned into crops, none are more puzzling than the sweet potato. Indigenous people of Central and South America grew it on farms for generations, and Europeans discovered it when Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean.   In the 18th century, however, Capt. James Cook stumbled across sweet potatoes...
More Stories