orange gingerbread with cream cheese frosting and pomegranate seeds
When I first started this blog, I was strongly committed to posting at least three times a week, but then I started to post more like twice a week. And then it was more like once a week, but I figured it was ok because the quality of the photos was so much better. It simply took me longer to create posts that I was happier with. Then I started posting only a couple times a month. And then I had a child. She’ll be 21 months in two weeks and this is the second post on the blog since she was born.
So what compelled me, in the middle of this busy season no less, to come back to the blog when I have a full time job and a toddler to try to keep up with? Well, when I saw a recipe for gingerbread with cream cheese frosting and pomegranate seeds, I just felt so compelled to blog about it. It’s just so festive. I wanted to indulge in it, and I wanted you to too. And so here you have it. A beautiful gingerbread cake totally worthy of any holiday celebration.
Ok, so full disclosure, the gingerbread itself is not my absolute favorite, but that’s because I really love Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for gingerbread. It is so reliably good and full of gentle warmth. This gingerbread is really good, but it’s more likely to sink in the center and it doesn’t have as much ginger oomph without the addition of fresh ginger and ground pepper that Cook’s Illustrated calls for. This cake is simpler to make though, and has a lovely orange essence to it, which pairs perfectly with one of my favorite parts of this cake: the pomegranate seeds. Not only do the seeds provide a lush juice that combats the richness of the frosting, but these beautiful red orbs stud the cake like a sprinkling of rubies. If you want to put jewelry on your dessert, this is exactly the way to do it, and they are the perfect ornamentation for the Christmas season.
Orange Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pomegranate Seeds
Adapted from Joy the Baker: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes
Normally with cakes you want to be careful not to over stir because doing so causes more gluten development resulting in a tough cake. For gingerbread, you actually want that gluten development to help give it more structure to help prevent the ubiquitous sunken gingerbread, so stir away!
This cake can be stored, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.
For the Gingerbread Cake:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup unsulphered molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 3/4 cup warm water
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese frosting, softened
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- big pinch of salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- pomegranate seeds for garnish
Make the cake:
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch square (or 9-inch round) baking pan. Line with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper and pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs until thick and pale. Stir in molasses, honey, and orange zest.
- Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the wet ingredients. Stir vigorously together until entirely incorporated. Add the warm water and gently stir until entirely incorporated and the mixture is silky smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. If you find that the mixture fills the pan more than three-quarters of the way full, you might consider using a larger pan (a 9 or 10-inch pan may serve your better).
- Bake cake for 35-45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese on medium speed. The cream cheese should be soft and smooth. Stop the mixer. Add the softened butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the two together over medium speed until smooth and incorporated. Add one cup of powdered sugar and blend until incorporated. Add vanilla extract and remaining cup of powdered sugar. Beat on medium high speed until frosting is smooth and silky.
- Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting the cake. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving.