Baking with molasses brings with it a taste of the holidays in gingerbread recipes. Midnight Gingerbread is just such a cake that would be as welcome at a holiday meal or for a festive winter dinner. See what this cake’s all about.
Rum-Steeped Dried Fruit
Here’s a handy hack for rehydrating dried fruit. The gingerbread recipe has you combine dates with raisins and Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Dried Figs in a microwave-safe bowl that is vented with plastic wrap. The dried fruit is rehydrated with a splash of rum and water for just enough of a flavor boost without being too boozy. The bowl is covered and microwaved for a minute or so and this blast of high heat shaves time off of rehydrating the dried fruit. Set aside the bowl so the dried fruit cools slightly and absorbs rum.
We use both Golden and Mission Figs in the gingerbread because their dual colors and flavors bring nuance to the cake. Mission Figs have more of a jammy earthy flavor that pairs so well anytime you’re baking with molasses whereas Golden Figs are a little tangy, delicately sweet, and slightly nutty, so good with the chopped crystallized ginger, and also featured in our sparkling star bread. If you only have one variety of figs feel free to use that.
Making Cake Meant for Midnight
No one would look at you twice if you happened to sneak out of bed for a slice of this gingerbread cake and it’s so easy to make. First, the spices, flour, cocoa, leavener, and salt are stirred together. Then, separately in another bowl, melted butter, mixes with the sugars and molasses until creamy. Then, each egg is beat in on low speed before mixing in buttermilk, then gradually adding in the flour mixture. The rum-steeped dried fruit is hand-stirred until it is just combined.
The gingerbread is baked on the middle rack in a 9×13-inch pan until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack before frosting. This gives you time to make the cream cheese frosting. Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting over the top and sprinkle on candied lemon peel or crystallized ginger. Finally, chill the cake until serving.
Other Ideas for Baking with Molasses
The gingerbread below definitely leans into deep winter spice, but baking with molasses is about so much more than just gingerbread and Christmas. As a sweetener, it’s not very sweet but has a very distinctive flavor. Add it to pancake batter for a robust flavor boost or into chewy ginger cookies.
Outside of baking with molasses, try sweetening applesauce with it; or blend it into a smoothie. You can even add it to coffee for a twist on your typical morning drink.
Molasses is much more than a sweetener too though. If you’re looking for a way to sweeten what you drink and eat but that also brings along health benefits, consider molasses. Molasses is a good source of selenium, iron, and copper and supports bone health. Figs support bone care too with Vitamin K.
Midnight Gingerbread with Rum-Steeped Fruit
- 1 cup Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs stemmed, chopped
- 1/2 cup Medjool dates pitted, chopped
- 1/2 cup dark raisins
- 1/2 cup dark rum
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground allspice
- 3/4 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 6 ounces unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 3/4 cup dark molasses
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 4 ounces butter at room temperature
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 4 tsp lemon zest finely grated
- Combine figs, dates, raisins and rum in microwave-safe bowl. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Heat on HIGH for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until steamy. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool and absorb rum.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9-x13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
- In medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In large mixing bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar, molasses, and granulated sugar. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. On low speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, then buttermilk. Gradually add flour mixture, stopping to scrape down side of bowl as needed. Continue to beat for 1 minute, until well blended. Stir in figs, dates and raisins. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
- Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan on wire rack.
- To frost cake, combine cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until creamy. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and zest. Spread on top of cake. Chill until serving time.