This is general discussion, so I am going to generally discuss food. Anyway ...
... every time I read Beauty, I think about how delicious that "dark, treacley spice cake" sounds. (I actually had to look up treacle to find out what it was, since around here it's always called molasses, but I was pretty happy to discover it was something I already had in my cupboard.) After this last reading, I was determined to have my cake, so went searching for a suitable recipe. It took a bit, as for her to comment on the darkness and the treacle flavor, it would have to be fairly heavy-handed with the molasses. I finally found one, and without further ado, present to you:
Cholly's World Famous Gingerbread Cake
(The recipe comes from the Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and was published in Sunset Magazine in December, 2002)
1 cup dark molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in molasses and baking soda. After mixture stops foaming, stir in 1/2 cup cold water; let cool to room temperature, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.
3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs until blended. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour and molasses mixtures alternately until incorporated, then beat on high speed until well blended. Pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch square pan.
4. Bake in a 325° regular or convection oven until a toothpick inserted in center of thickest part comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack at least 1 1/4 hours. Cooled and sealed in an airtight container, the cake should remain moist and fresh for two days.
My adventures in baking this cake: I discovered that I was short on proper blackstrap molasses, so had to use a little over half a cup of boring, plain, not-blackstrap. I used dark brown sugar to make up for it. I also used one large duck egg rather than two large chicken eggs (duck eggs are quite a lot larger), because while duck eggs are rather blech fried, they're lovely to bake or make puddings with because of the richer yolk (and I had a bunch on hand). If you use Baker's Joy or a similar floured non-stick spray, it works just fine here in place of the flour and butter on the pan; I've had no issue with sticking.
The cake is VERY dark. Like, seriously; it looks like devil's food chocolate cake. It's also one of the moistest cakes I've ever had (if you keep it nice and covered), if not the moistest. It has a good gingerbread flavor where the molasses is very distinct. The original recipe suggests serving it with custard sauce and a dusting of cocoa, but I find that pretty unnecessary unless you feel you need to soften the molasses flavor with the custard. I personally feel it would be very good with dried fruit (raisins, dates, maybe dried cherries and/or apricots ... the larger stuff all diced, of course) baked in, especially as in the era that Beauty seems to take place in, a lot of the richest cakes like that included fruit, and that castle is not going to serve anything but the best. (If I try this, I'll let you know how it comes out ... it won't be right away, as the only thing I have on hand is raisins).
In other food-related news, the book reminded me that I had been wanting fried potatoes and onions, so I made some for supper a few nights ago and my husband and I found them so tasty right then that I had to make a second batch right afterward.
I posted this over in the books discussion, but I'll post it here too: a recipe for the spice cake from Food through the Pages, a geeky food blog: http://www.foodthroughthepages.com/2012/10/01/spice-cake-beauty/
I've made it twice, it was a huge hit at our house. And now I can't wait to try your version, Tevokkia!
My husband and I have been wanting to throw a fairy tale party for a while now, with appropriate foods. Rose soup, rose cupcakes, rose anything... roast beast... thoughts? =)
Ah, somehow I had missed that comment! The version you posted looks lovely, too ... mine is rather darker and likely much less gingery for it. I shall have to see about trying it ... probably closer to the holidays, since I'm the only one in my house that's a huge fan of gingerbread cake and I don't want to end up eating two of them in a row by myself!
And a fairy tale party sounds lovely! I should dig out some of my rose recipes ... I have quite a few of those, and lavender recipes that could easily become rose recipes. (Although I don't believe I have one for rose soup! .... I suppose a generic fairy tale party rather than a specific BatB themed one might benefit from pumpkin soup instead?)
I should find a good recipe for ginger orange peel tea ... I don't much care for the ones online, as most of them forget the actual "tea" part of it and sweeten it up a tree.
You know what would be fun? Putting together a theme meal (whether that be breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, supper, whatever) for each book, depended on the setting and whether any specific foods are mentioned in the story.
Tevokkia, most herbal teas actually omit the actual "tea" bit. But as someone who really loves and mixes their own brews, my feeling is that a citrus ginger might work really well with either a good Indian Ceylon or perhaps, if you were careful to not overpower the base, even a Darjeeling tea.
...This whole discussion makes me want to make some themed meals.
Yes, I know that most herbal teas omit the tea; I frequently mix my own brews as well. I had gotten the impression from the book, though, that it was a spiced tea rather than an herbal concoction that Beauty was drinking, as she said that it was "sweetened with orange peel; spiced with ginger." If you look up orange ginger tea, however, it's difficult to find a recipe that's not an herbal concoction. While creating a good blend doesn't seem as though it would be difficult, I find myself without either ginger (except candied ginger, which I don't like to use in tea) and orange peel at the moment.
I agree that a Ceylon or Darjeeling would be good, although I think either a Pekoe or an Assam would also work.
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