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The Gingeriest Gingerbread in the Mountains

One of these days I’m going to dig and post the photo I took of the first batch of cookies that I ever baked in Gunnison.  The cookies were awful. I mean, I’m pretty sure I ate them (read: one cookie sheet-sized smear of crusty weirdness), but it was not a successful bake. I asked google how to adjust for altitude and came up with a list of techniques. Reduce leveling, add flour, reduce sugar, etc. I set to work with some of my favorite recipes that I relied on in Tucson, but found that there really is not a one-size-fits-all method of adjusting for altitude. Reducing the amount of baking powder and/or baking soda is a good place to start, but sometimes leveling the called-for amount with the press of a finger does it, and sometimes it needs to be reduced by half or more. Adding flour can be successful for the appearance of cakes, but often at the expense of a moist crumb. Sometimes a well beaten egg helps, but not always. I’m always looking for ways to reduce sugar, but not flavor. It’s incredible how much flavor travels on sugar. Reducing the sugar doesn’t only make a treat taste less sweet, it also reduces the flavor. So when a recipe full of zest and spice comes along, I start with the sugar! This is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of Gramercy Tavern’s Gingerbread

This was not my first attempt at this recipe! The result of the first try is in a bag in my freezer until I get some inspiration for what to do with a pile of sticky crumbs. This is, however, the successful attempt. Enjoy!

Note* Gunnison sits at 7,703 feet above sea level. Let me know how this recipe works for you and at what altitude you tried it!


1 cup cream stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
250 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 inch freshly grated ginger root
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
175 grams packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup sunflower oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously grease a bundt pan and dust with flour. Be thorough, but be sure to knock out any excess. Alternatively, you could use two loaf pans.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan. Take it off the heat and and remove from heat whisk in the baking soda. Allow to cool.

Sift together flour, salt, and spices in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and sugars. Then whisk in the oil, and then the molasses mixture. Add this to the flour mixture and fold it all together with a rubber spatula until just combined, making sure no clumps of dry mixture remain.

Pour batter into your prepared bundt pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to pop any sneaky air bubbles.

Bake in middle of oven for 40-45 minutes. A toothpick should come out with just a few sticky crumbs on it. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto rack and cool completely. I found it helpful to gently pull the sides of the cake away from the pan. The cake has a gorgeous crust on the outside that can get really stuck to the pan, but if the pan is well-greased, that crust will shield the almost gooey moist and spicy goodness inside as you ease it away from the pan.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, and maybe even with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.


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