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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Thursday, August 03, 2006

New Orleans Gingerbread (low-fat)

So, keeping with the healthy eating theme from the last post, here's a little sweet something I whipped up for a low-fat sweet treat. Naturally, I took it from the excellent Chocolate and the art of low-fat desserts, by Alice Medrich. I've not had a failure from this book, but the recipes have had varying levels of deliciousness. This one, a spicy gingerbread, was at the lower end. I'm not sure what I was expecting but this wasn't quite it. And I wonder if the simple addition of a little more butter and egg yolks might have transformed it into something marvellous. I wonder if this is a recipe that doesn't quite work as low-fat?
I'm being picky, of course, this is still a very tasty cake and I was interested to see that the texture improved after a few days. Straight out of the oven I found it a bit dry, but after giving away half because I wasn't so impressed, I noticed a few days later that it had become more moist.

The recipe included fresh ginger, mustard powder, treacle and coffee powder, so I was expecting a pretty big flavour hit, a bit like Nigella's excellent chocolate gingerbread, but it didn't happen. It was as if the lack of fat in the recipe muted those gutsy flavours. Just speculation - I may be very wrong, and in any case, adding more fat to bring out the flavours really defeats the purpose of making this cake!
Medrich says this cake "is so lean that you might consider a dollop of low-fat sour cream or Enlightened Creme Fraiche [or low-fat vanilla yoghurt] and maybe some sliced bananas to accompany it." I agree with her; it needed some accompaniment. But instead of adding fat later, if it's so lean why not add a bit more to start with and it might not need any accompaniment? Maybe a case of taking the project a step too far? I'd be interested to know if anyone else has made this and what they thought. Maybe my expectations were too high, after the other success stories I've had with this book.
Read on for the recipe:

Spicy New Orleans Gingerbread
from Chocolate & the art of Low-Fat Desserts, Alice Medrich
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons treacle
1 egg
1 egg white
2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
2 1/2 tablspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons baby-food prunes or applesauce
1/4 cup boiling water
1: Preheat oven to 325F (165 C)
2: Whisk together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, mustard and salt. Set aside. In a small cup mix together baking soda and coffee powder. Set aside.
3: Add sugar to a third bowl. Add the treacle, whole egg, egg white, butter, ginger and prunes. Whisk together until combined. Stir in the flour mixture. Dissolve bicarb and coffee powder in boiling water. Stir into batter until just combined.
4: Pour batter into a round or bundt pan. Bake about 25-30 minutes for a round pan, 30-35 minutes for a ring mould - until centre is dry. Cool cake for 10 minutes before turning out.
Cake may be stored at room temperature for 3-4 days, well wrapped, or frozen up to 2 months.

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