December is the month that everyone seems to make gingerbread, and I guess you can only go so far with the variation on the basic recipe (though you can put gingerbread into all kinds of shapes - person, house, etc). But this recipe from the late author Laurie Colwin adds a little zip.
Along with the usual spices and butter and molasses, the recipe also calls for 2 teaspoons of lemon brandy. You can substitute vanilla extract for the lemon brandy, but what's the fun in that?
Laurie Colwin's Gingerbread
Butter (for the pan)
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 heaping tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1
/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (preferably Steen's brand)
2 teaspoons lemon brandy or vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with a little yogurt beaten into it)
Set the oven at 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan.
In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Stir to combine them.
In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the molasses, followed by the eggs, one by one.
With the mixer set on low, blend in the flour mixture, followed by the brandy or vanilla. Blend in the buttermilk until the mixture is smooth. Transfer it to the cake pan.
Bake the cake for 20 to 30 minutes, checking it after 20 minutes, until a broom straw or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Adapted from "Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen"