Gingerbread cupcakes and their part in my downfall

My wife baked this evening, choosing one of my favourite cakes, a soft and moist ginger bread from the Miette cookbook. It requires a can of stout and some molasses, and when it’s baking the flat is filled with the glorious smell of ginger.

Unfortunately, this evening the mixture of beer and sugar boiled over, making a predictably enormous mess of the kitchen; half a can of beer and half a tin of molasses is a sticky brown concoction that’s covered most of the stovetop. I was baffled and confused: this wasn’t a new recipe that had taken us by surprise, but something that’s been tried, tested, and is still treacherous.

I think we lost in the region of half the mix; what was left was enough to fill twelve cupcake sleeves, and although I gorged myself on a couple, that leaves us with ten cakes. We’re not sure if they have a tendency to collapse in due to us not cooking them properly, or because of uneven temperatures in the oven, or the humidity of Singapore working against us. Anyone in cooler or drier climes who’d like to try out the recipe and tell us if they have similar problems would be helpful, if only to make us feel more secure about our sanity when presented with recalcitrant cake.

Today I was exhausted from yesterday’s track exertion, as I knew I would be. At least there was food to eat for breakfast (yesterday morning we didn’t even have bread) and tomorrow there’ll be gingerbread. On this trajectory, by Friday I’ll be quaffing champagne and eating Black Forest Gateau. What could possibly go wrong?

Miette Gingerbread cupcakes
Cuisine: Cake
Author: Meg Ray with Leslie Jonath
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
  • 6.5 ounces flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons stout beer
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Stir together the stout and molasses and bring to a boil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in the baking soda. Meg Ray says “Be careful and whisk constantly, as the mixture will foam up when you add the soda.” {We say “use a bigger damn saucepan so the mess doesn’t foam up and cover the entire kitchen.”)
  4. Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium speed until well combined and lightened in colour (around 3-4 minutes). Slowly drizzle in the oil and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the stout mixture. Stop the mixtrue and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula, then return to a low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the sides down with the spatula again. Strain the batter through a medium-mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
  5. This will fill 24 standard muffin cups. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3rds full with batter. Bake until the tops spring back and a tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean – about 20-25 minutes. Immediately transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

4 responses to “Gingerbread cupcakes and their part in my downfall”

  1. The cupcakes sound absolutely delicious. But aren’t there are lot of ingredients. Certainly one to try, although where in the world does one source kosher salt?

  2. Mmm nice. Was tuning in expecting another tale of hard training. Can’t think of why they wouldn’t work unless there is something different in the stout you are using?

    • No more hard training until at least tomorrow, and probably not until the Reservoir at the weekend… I’ve been mentally lazy and not going to bed at appropriate times.

      I wonder if the problem with the recipe is what constitutes a ‘small’ pan for Americans is just much bigger than what we have. There’s been so many recipes we’ve tried that make “4 portions” where you have to assume the writer intended to feed four hungry hippos, not human beings, and now I’m wondering if the same scale problem applies to utensils as to much as to consumers…

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