Baking: chocolate walnut sherry cake redux; dark gingerbread

For Lisa V’s (and her mother’s) Christmas Eve party, I made the same excellent and festive loaf cake I’d made last year. And it was just as good. It went well with the homely luxury of Lisa’s Polish bigos and guest Natasha’s Georgian bean dish — delicious though hideous. I’m still puzzled by the call to put the baking soda in the coffee-date mixture. Zach suggested that it might be to get the power of the acid, but you don’t want to exhaust your leavening while your bowl of coffee & dates waits to be added to the batter. In any case I used baking powder by accident and it foamed like mad when I put it into the mixture — the coffee was still warm. I added another pinch of b.p. and one of baking soda to the dry ingredients and the cake rose like a champion.

For Nick & Carlos’s New Year’s Eve party, I made Heidi Swanson’s black sticky gingerbread, which was also very successful although neither black nor sticky, I don’t know why. I made changes to the recipe, but not ones that would have decreased the stickiness. (See my comments dated January 1. I didn’t mention that I also used half white and half whole wheat flour, and that my milk was partly sour.) It was good enough, in fact, that I made another loaf to take to Aldo’s for a house singing on Sunday, where it was received with expressions of pleasure. I’m so happy to have recovered my ability to make a reasonably well-structured cake, perhaps merely by buying a new container of baking powder.

And now I have rugelach dough softening on the counter, so I’d better get on to rolling and spreading.

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