Gingerbread rarely tastes of its namesake ingredient. So when pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick set out to develop her own version of the classic quickbread, she admits that she went to extremes. It took a full 1⁄4 cup ground ginger to get the results she wanted.
“I can’t tell you how many times people said, ‘Are you sure you want me to put that much ginger?’” says Kilpatrick, co-owner of Sofra Bakery and Café near Boston and co-author of the cookbook “Soframiz.” “But it doesn’t taste all that strong.”
Her recipe balances the ginger’s sharpness with a number of powerful, deeper ingredients like molasses, coffee, cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg. And it includes one unusual ingredient that caught our attention—stout.
The beer’s bitterness complements the molasses, and its rich depth balances the high notes of the ginger so it doesn’t overwhelm. Kilpatrick simmers the stout with the molasses and coffee, then flattens the beer by mixing in baking soda. Baking powder is then added with the dry ingredients for a fluffy cake with a tender crumb.
We loved the bold, unique flavors but decided to go even further with the ginger. Removing the cocoa let the ginger shine brighter. And we upped the amount of stout by also using it to make a sweet glaze. We then topped it with crystallized ginger for extra flavor and texture.
The result is an exceedingly moist gingerbread whose tender texture contrasts with the crispiness of the glaze. Best of all, the familiar holiday treat lives up to its name with plenty of ginger flavor.
“I can’t tell you how many times people said, ‘Are you sure you want me to put that much ginger?’”