In the Kitchen: Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Yogurt Frosting

I can hear it now, gingerbread in May? Well trust me, it’s not just for Christmas. Chances are many of you have never made it, or have only made the popular cookie form, but this healthy, often all natural, dessert option can be baked up many different ways and may just become a new year-round favorite in your house. Yeah, I said healthy and all natural again! Sweetened with honey and molasses and made with whole wheat flour, today’s recipe is for a light and moist cake version of gingerbread which is delicious all by itself any time of day or dressed up with a springy, lemon yogurt frosting for a unique dessert that will wow. You’ll find printable recipe cards at the end of this post.

1/2 cup butter, very soft
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1 cup unsulphured molasses
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
A note on spices: If you like a milder cake, use 1/4 tsp cloves, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp ginger. If you’d like a spicier cake, use 3/4 tsp cloves, 2 tsp cinnamon and 2 tsp ginger.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, spices and baking soda. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the butter, honey, egg and molasses, first with a spoon, then with an electric mixer on low until well blended.

Heat the water in the microwave for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until very hot but not boiling.
Add about 1/3 of the water to the flour mixture and stir well, next add half the molasses mixture, then another 1/3 of water, the remainder of the molasses and the last 1/3 of the water, stirring well after each addition. Once blended, whisk to ensure all lumps are out. Batter will be very soupy.

Pour the batter into a well greased and lightly floured 13×9 baking pan.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
This cake is lightly rich, super moist and uber delicious when served all by its lonesome, but if you’d like to add a unique, refreshing zing, try this healthy frosting alternative…
3 cups Dannon lemon yogurt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar

You have some options with the ingredients when whipping up this frosting, but first you have to drain the yogurt.
Dannon brand works best for draining because it is made with pectin and contains no gums or additives. You’ll want to start with three cups (four 6 oz containers).

You’ll need a colander or wire strainer and cheesecloth or coffee filters. Line the colander with the cloth or filters, place it over a deep bowl and spoon in the yogurt. The bowl doesn’t have to be large but make sure it’s tall enough so that the bottom of the strainer doesn’t sit in the draining liquid. You’ll end up with about 1 1/2 cups of yogurt and 1 cup liquid after it drains, but you will only be using the yogurt.

Place it in the refrigerator for at least 16 hours (longer is ok!) until the yogurt drains and resembles the consistency of light cream cheese.
You are now you are ready to make the frosting. If you’d like to keep it as simple and healthy as possible, add 1/2 tsp vanilla and whip it up with an electric mixer. It will be on the thinner side, but not overly runny and will have a yogurt like flavor.
If you’d like a thicker, sweeter frosting with less of a yogurt taste, whip the 1 1/2 cups drained yogurt with 1/2 tsp vanilla, 6 Tbsp powdered sugar and 3 Tbsp cornstarch. You can then add additional powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time, until it reaches your preferred level of sweetness.
You can also meet in the middle of the two recipes – it’s pretty flexible! Don’t expect it to spread like a thick buttercream or cream cheese frosting, but it’s definitely thicker than an icing and a refreshing, healthy alternative. You can store it covered in the fridge for about a week, and if you’re anything like me, you’re already thinking of all the other treats that this frosting would be good slathered on…
A little bit of frosting goes a long way and you don’t want to overpower the flavor of the cake, so keep it light. I also don’t recommend storing the cake frosted, as it will make it a little soggy.
I find this cake most delicious when served slightly warm, so if you are not serving it right after baking, keep it stored in airtight container. Heat individual servings for about 15 – 20 seconds in the microwave and then spread a little frosting on top or serve a dollop on the side. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “In the Kitchen: Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Yogurt Frosting

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