Orange Gingerbread with Honey Whiskey Custard

Super moist, tasty gingerbread!

My timing might be off since most people are trying to avoid things like this with their New Year’s Resolution, but a homemade treat here and there can’t hurt! I unfortunately don’t have any photos of the custard, but it was really yummy. If you want to skip the custard, you can use whipped cream instead, sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon on top, or just eat it as is! This recipe is adapted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook. The egg nog recipe I posted earlier is also from this book.

I do try to avoid refined sugar as much as possible, so for recipes like this I use raw sugar instead of white sugar. I only replaced the white sugar, and not the brown in this recipe, but I’m sure it’d be just as good using all raw sugar. Refined, white sugar is basically devoid of any nutrients and only provides sugar and carbs. Meanwhile, raw sugar still contains trace minerals and nutrients, such as phosphorous, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. For more info, check out: Molasses also provides some nutritional benefits relative to being a sweetener. It’s a byproduct from the process of converting cane into table sugar, and contains potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s bake!!

I like to spend a few minutes before cooking or baking to line up my ingredients and get everything ready. It really saves time when you start the actual process. When all was said and done, this was really quick active-time recipe. Note: they recommend that you make the custard a day ahead, so it’s nice and icy cold by the time you serve it.

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup orange juice

*The way they measured the flour in this recipe is by placing spoonfuls of the flour into a measuring cup, until it is mounded higher than the edge of the cup, without tamping it down. Level off the flour with the straight edge of a knife.

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar in the raw
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey whiskey or bourbon

For the gingerbread
Once you have all the ingredients laid out and ready, preheat the oven to 350. Waiting to preheat helps save energy. Unless you’re a super speedy baker, you really don’t need to preheat the oven first thing. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, mustard powder, cloves, and salt.

With a mixer or a whisk by hand, beat together the butter and brown sugar until well combined. I used light brown sugar instead of dark since that’s what I had. Also, I was in a bit of a rush and didn’t have time to cool the melted butter down very long. Beat in the egg, molasses, and orange zest. Again, my substitution: only had 3/4 cup molasses, so added in 1/4 cup maple syrup. Alternately beat in the flour mixture and orange juice, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Scrape the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When I checked the gingerbread after 35 minutes, it was still incredibly liquidy. I had to head to a party, so I turned the oven up to 425 and after 10 minutes it was perfectly done. I’m not sure if any of my substitutions would have caused this, or if our old oven is slightly off. In any case, it ended up being baked just as I wanted it. It was moist throughout the cake, both on the bottom and the top.

Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn the cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

For the custard
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar in the raw, and salt until well combined. (Save the egg whites for an omelete or some other use in the next couple of days.) In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low. Be careful to stir it while it heats to avoid the formation of skin on top – yuck. Whisk about half the warm milk into the egg yolk mixture; then whisk the yolk mixture into the milk in the saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you’re doubting that it’s coating the back of a spoon, it probably isn’t yet. The book says it takes about 10 minutes, but for me, it took about 15. Remove from the heat and stir in either the bourbon (book’s recommendation) or honey whiskey (I vote honey whiskey). Cool to room temperature, and then chill until ready to serve.

Cut the cake into your desired number of pieces. Spoon a bit of custard on each dessert plate, and top with a piece of cake. Don’t do what I did, and put some of the custard on top…it just won’t look good!

  • For a dairy-free cake, swap in a total of 8 tablespoons oil such as walnut, coconut, etc in place of the butter. You could do a combination of two nut oils, or perhaps some olive oil. The book suggests 3 tablespoons walnut oil and 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, but I don’t recommend using vegetable oil – best to avoid those trans fats.
  • Make buttermilk gingerbread by swapping in buttermilk for the orange juice.

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