This holiday season I am, once again, learning my way around a new kitchen. This one is a little farther east than the last one, and a little farther south. The windows over the countertop invite the morning sunlight as they look out across my front porch on to a pretty little park filled with large pecan and small oak trees.
The kitchen is efficient and well appointed. There are nice stretches of counter space to work on, one facing the park and another facing the family room. A large professional style gas range with iron skillets resting on the back burner challenges me and warms the décor.
Still I am a cautious creature. It is hard for me to just dive in. Things are, again, different here and take some getting used to, especially during the holidays.
Bringing It Home
Maybe that’s why I am so enjoying the scents of the season this year. Ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon are familiar scents that suggest fond memories and bring a sense of the familiar into present circumstances.
Here, my basic recipe for Sunday Special Coffee Cake is at work again. This time I have adapted an adaptation I settled on when I made a Pecan Graham Coffee Cake several years ago. Instead of using the graham crackers I substituted crushed ginger cookies (you can use homemade or store bought) to add texture to the streusel crumbs. I also added a robust blend of holiday spices and a touch of molasses to the batter.
This cake turns out dark and fragrant with a sweet layer of crunchy streusel glazing the top. Warm from the oven it makes a nice addition to a weekend or holiday breakfast. It tastes great with a warm cup of coffee or spiced apple cider. A little later in the day, if there is any left over, it can do a repeat performance as a snack or a simple dessert.
Ginger Streusel Topping
1 cup crushed ginger cookies
¼ cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground cloves
¼ cup butter
½ cup toasted chopped pecans
Place ginger cookies in a quart sized Ziploc freezer bag. Squeeze out the air and seal the top. Crush gingersnaps using a rolling pin.
In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup of the crushed cookie crumbs, sugar, flour, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Add the butter in several slices and mix to a crumbly streusel with your fingertips or with a fork, if you prefer. Stir in the toasted pecan bits and the remaining ¼ cup cookie crumbs. Set aside.
Gingerbread Cake Batter
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and next six ingredients using a wire whisk.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Add the brown sugar, molasses and melted butter blending until smooth.
Add the milk, whisking until well combined.
With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until smooth and well combined.
Pour batter into a prepared 9-inch baking pan.
Scatter the streusel topping crumbs on top of the batter.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degree for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake tests done.
Cool on a wire rack.