Featured today on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas is Pille, the Estonian food writer and author of the blog NAMI – NAMI: a food blog (note: nami, nami is an Estonian "yummy, yummy"!). This is a recipe for one of Pille’s favorite Christmas cakes, Pehme piparkook.
I've been making this very cake for Christmas for about 6-7 years now, and it's still one of the favorites with friends and family. I made it again for a friend's birthday party last weekend, tuning the recipe a bit - reducing the amount of sugar (you could use even less, I bet), and replacing melted butter with mild-tasting oil in the batter.
There are two things to keep in mind. First, the cake is eggless (so suitable for people with egg allergies!) and the raising agent is baking soda. As with other similar batters, it's important to bake the cake straight away after mixing the batter - the baking soda starts to react with acid in the batter (kefir in this case) within 15-20 minutes, and if you don't bake the cake during that time, you'll end up with a very flat Christmas cake. Secondly, you could use a much larger cake sheet, but I like this in the specified size - the cake will be about 4 cm in height, which is good for me.
Soft Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(Pehme piparkook toorjuustuglasuuriga)
Makes a large cake that'll easily feed about 20
400 g plain flour
300 g caster sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp baking soda
0.5 tsp salt
500 ml (2 cups) kefir or cultured buttermilk
150 g lingonberry jam (IKEA stocks some)
100 g rapeseed oil or light olive oil
For the cream cheese frosting:
200 g plain cream cheese, at room temperature
50 g unsalted butter, softened
150 g icing sugar/confectioner's sugar
Lingonberries or cranberries
Preheat the oven to 390˚F (200 Celsius). Line a 9”x13” (25x30cm) cake tin with parchment paper (or simply butter it well).
Make the cake batter first. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine kefir, lingonberry jam and oil in a large measuring jug. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring quickly so the batter comes together. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when pierced into the middle of the cake.
Let the cake cool completely (wrap in plastic if not decorating straight away).
For the frosting, combine the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar in a bowl - I use a wooden spoon for that, but you could also use an electric mixer. Spread the frosting over the cake.
Decorate with red berries and toasted hazelnuts or something else festive :)
|Pille's Moomin piparkoogid|
This post first appeared on NAMI-NAMI: a food blog in December of 2010. Thank you to Pille for the permission to reprint it! You can find the original post here, and the Estonian version here. Pille and Nami-Nami are also on facebook and twitter... I'll bet pomegranate seeds would be a perfect match for this cake - we'll have to give it a spin this month! Also be sure to take a look at Pille's Estonian recipe for gingerbread cookies, piparkoogid. It is interesting to see how these compare to the Latvian version, piparkūkas (here is Inga's post from last year's series: A Baltic Christmas Day 5 - Piparkūkas)!