Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread

This, is what our life has come to.

Why yes, it is a roll of toilet paper inside a ziploc bag.

But why is it being stored like this?

Because of this.

Well more because of this,

who’s main goal in life, is to do evil and destruction (see that scowl?  The planning?), hence the name (Evil Monkey).

Monkey, like the rest of the deranged, has an affinity for the most random.

Aluminum foil? Delicious.

Bottle caps? Nom nom nom.

Full bellies?

Ok, the last I do appreciate.

But as of late toilet paper rolls have been her latest fascination/obsession.  And we’ve tried everything to deter it. Hiding it in the back of the bathroom shelving, putting it on the towel rack up high; she conquered them all.

So, the other day when I walked into the bathroom (the bathroom door had been closed, but like a velociraptor, she’s learned how to open doors. PS did that movie scare the crap out of you when you were a kid? Traumatized.) there she was, on the bathroom shelf, batting the toilet paper in between her paws.  She then looked up at me, and whacked it into the open toilet bowl.  Yes, she knocked it into the toilet on purpose.  (Roo just nodded along as I retold the story to him, my voice raising an octave with every sentence.  He almost looked like he was going to pat me on the head.  Almost.)

Needless to say, I lost it. I threatened to make her into a jacket as I grabbed another toilet paper roll out of the closet.  I told her I was going to bring her back to the shelter because she had outlived her cost in toilet paper rolls (who am I?).  But then, I took a deep breath, and came up an (insane) idea.  I put it in a ziploc bag.

While Monkey hasn’t figured out yet how to conquer the ziploc bag, it does make for awkward conversation when we have guests over…

F: Hey, can I use your bathroom?

L: Yeah, um…just one thing.  The toilet paper is in a ziploc bag.

F: Oh, ok?

L: Um, but what I don’t think you get is that it has to go back in the bag when you’re done.  Anditneedstobesealed.

F: (look of questioning our friendship)

Yes, I’ve now become that person.

I’ve been joking with Roo for a while now that we need to get a dog to keep our cats in line.  And with Christmas a month away, I’ve been upping the ante.

L: Hey, you know what would make a really great Christmas gift?  Besides that super awesome printer you bought last year, that didn’t really show up till after New Year’s because you forgot to hit “submit” on Amazon? Yeah, that was great.  But you know what else is great?  A dog.

(Yes, suggestion with double-guilt as the gift was late and it was…a printer.)

L: Wouldn’t it be great for every couple in your family to have a dog?  And then we’d all get together for Christmas, with our dogs, and maybe even take a photo?  Those would be some great memories.

(This was just plain old crazy talk, as I can now only imagine how chaotic the scene would be.  The “other dogs” in the family are: one overweight dachshund – his only flaw, he’s kind of awesome, a great dane that has the mentality of Lennie from Of Mice and Men, and another dachshund, who once peed in the mouth of Roo’s mom when he jumped up to greet her.  True story.)

I realized I had to play dirty.  And by dirty I mean I needed to bake a cake.  Something that tasted like Christmas but not your typical, “hey it’s almost Christmas, let’s get a dog kind of cake.”  Yes, those cakes exist (in my mind…and if you read that in a creepy Faye Dunaway/Joan Crawford’s Mommy Dearest voice, then you are far more awesome than I expected).

Cook This Now turned out to be the answer: Melissa Clark’s new cookbook that instructs the reader in what to make with produce that’s at its peak, in month-to-month chapters.  For November, she had a recipe for sticky cranberry gingerbread, and I knew that was the cake.

What Roo could only describe as “like Christmas punching you in the face,” it was gooey, packed with firey ginger, smooth, rich molasses and sweet and tart cranberries, some folded in whole and the rest made into lovely sauce, swirled into the batter.  It was an “in your face” kind of cake, but the texture was incredibly comforting, as I think rarely anyone would turn down something so sticky and gooey.  It wasn’t like “Oh my god this taffy is preventing me from opening my mouth, gah!!!” kind of sticky, but that “I just sneaked a slice straight out of the oven, and nobody knows” kind of wonderful.  But fully cooled.  And even better the next day.

While Roo didn’t turn to me, absolutely hypnotized, rambling, “Must. Get. Dog,” I can say that the cake may have made him nod his head a little bit more when I again, suggested getting another family member.  I guess we’ll have to see what Christmas brings.

…a dog.

Adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Makes one 9 inch cake

Ingredients

2 – 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (2 if you want just the cranberry sauce swirled in, 3 if you’d like extra, whole cranberries folded into the batter)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon of water

Half cup butter, like Earth Balance (I know it’s a bit of butter, but I significantly reduced the amount of sugar, so yay! Compromise!)

Half cup unsweetened unflavored almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)

(an overflowing) Half cup of molasses

(an overflowing) Quarter cup of brown rice syrup (I think I have a poor hand to pour with, because in both cases my liquid syrups flowed over the measuring cups. Whoops.)

One and a half cups of white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon of ground ginger

Half teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Half teaspoon of baking powder

Quarter teaspoon of baking soda

Quarter teaspoon of fine sea salt

Quarter teaspoon of ground pepper

2 flax seed eggs (2 tablespoons of ground flax seed and 6 tablespoons of warm water, mixed and set aside for about ten minutes)

1 tablespoon freshly grated gingerroot (this makes the cake incredibly firey, which we absolutely loved the next day)

2 – 3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar to sprinkle over the top, five minutes prior to taking out of the oven, for a lovely crunch (optional)

Equipment

2 small sauce pans (can hold about 5 cups)

a medium sized mixing bowl

a large sized mixing bowl

a whisk

a spatula

a hand grater (for the freshly grated gingerroot)

a (square) nine inch cake pan (if you don’t have a square one, that’s ok)

a knife

a large spoon

Place the oven rack in the middle position in your oven.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

Make your flax seed eggs and set aside.

In one of the small sauce pans, add 2 cups of the cranberries, granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of water.  Place the pan over a burner on medium heat.  Stir the cranberry mixture occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved and a syrupy bubbling sauce forms.  Some of the cranberries will retain their structure, while others will burst and ooze into the sauce (yum).  This will take about ten minutes.  Remove the pan from heat and set aside.

In your second sauce pan, add the butter (like Earth Balance), non-dairy milk, molasses and brown rice syrup.  Place the pan over medium heat and stir occasionally, until the ingredients just start to simmer.  Remove the pan from heat and set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the white whole wheat flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Whisk the ingredients until they are well combined and there are visually no more lumps.

In a large sized mixing bowl, add the butter and molasses mixture.  Add the dry ingredients to the large sized mixing bowl, stirring the ingredients till combined.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as it’s quite a sticky batter.  Add the flax seed eggs, stir till combined.  Add the freshly ground ginger, stir till combined.  Add the 1 extra cup of cranberries (if using), and fold them into the batter.

Scoop out the batter into your cake pan.  With a large spoon, add the cranberry sauce to the top of the batter.  You can just dollop the sauce out on top.  Then, with a knife, swirl through the batter as if you’re making a marbled cake.

Bake the cake for about 45 – 55 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs.  At the 35 minute mark, take the cake out of the oven, and sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar, if using.  At the 40 minute mark, take a cake tester (like a toothpick) and insert it into the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean, then it’s done.  If not, put it back in the oven and keep checking it every five minutes.

When the cake is done, cool till room temperature before serving.

*Roo and I thought that this cake was far far better the next day.  The ginger and cranberries were really able to meld together overnight, and what resulted, can be best described by Roo as, “like Christmas punching you in the face.”  If you can wait overnight to eat this cake, I highly recommend it.  Lastly, it sets up really nicely overnight as well.  When you eat it out of the oven it’s gooey and all, but falls apart a bit.  Next day = so. much. better.

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9 thoughts on “Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread

  1. hahahah!!!! How cute is this!! When I used to have kitties they would like to play with my toilet paper too!! So strange. Now, Hudson, the wiener dog just looks under every thing in our home for food….lol.

    These sound FAB!! I love gingerbread!!
    xxoo

    • Phew! Someone laughed! Seriously though, when I type up these posts, I laugh to myself like someone who needs to be housed in “special care,” and then when I hit publish, I run to my couch, hug my favorite pillow, and wait for someone to tell me that I am a complete weirdo.

      Though, that overshare probably just proved my point…

      Anyways! Yes, I’ve never lived with cats before, so Monkey’s shenanigans are absolutely new to me. I could totes compromise having another animal looking under everything for food! Haha. Much better than Monkey trying to eat my hair during the summer when the fan is on in the living room. Fact. We can trade? No? Ok…

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It means a lot! And, oh! The cake is super yum. 🙂 Gooey, smack you in the face with Christmas, kinda yum. You know, if that’s your thing. 🙂

  2. This cake sounds like just the thing to bring me out of my cooking funk!

    You DO KNOW that we are currently fostering one of the most bestest greyhounds in the world, a big goofy snuggle buggle called Thor, who is shy with strangers but we’re working on it. He would love a forever home. The only problem is that our cats have him trained. He’ll probably take one look at your cats and throw the toilet paper into the toilet just to appease them.

    Note here how he plays with his toys, without bothering the cat who is sitting right above him on the couch:

    • Oh I know about Thor (thanks to Facebook). 🙂 I even showed him to Roo, and he just shook his head. The main reason we can’t get a dog yet is that we’re not even sure we’re allowed to have cats in the apartment. Roo has lived here for over ten years, as the apartment is owned by his friend’s dad. He’s nervous that if we throw a dog into the mix, we may get kicked out. Well also, Roo is really adamant about not having a dog in the city.

      Seriously, Thor is adorable and I’ve tried not to look at the photos you’ve posted because the temptation is too great!!!

  3. our cat just sticks to scratching our sofas to pieces – we got her a scratching post – wouldn’t touch it – put it outside and she loves it – bring it inside and she ignores it – but we keep our toilet door closed to her and thankfully she isn’t as smart as your cat

    the cranberry bread sounds great – would love to find some fresh or frozen cranberries but they are rare as hen’s teeth in Australia

    • Aw man, don’t remind me! Our other cat Stinkee, has a horrible scratching problem, and despite posts being put everywhere in the apartment, she loves our once nice couch. Now, it’s a good excuse to get a new couch where Roo and I can both fit if we lie down on it together (we’re both quite tall and the couch is quite short).

      I didn’t know you were in Australia! That, and I didn’t know they didn’t have cranberries there either. However, different country, different climate, totes makes sense. I’m just thankful that in Massachusetts it’s bog-country out here so cranberries are a-plenty. I feel like this cake would be just as good without the cranberries, though, because I swear I have the soul of an 85 year old, I absolutely love fruit in my cakes.

      Thanks for reading! It’s good to know I haven’t creeped you out with my replies/posts…yet. 🙂

  4. This made me laugh as our kitten loves to grab the toilet roll and run through the house trailing it after her. She doesn’t eat it, so we just roll it back up again – it looks so chic….. Luckily she seems to prefer the roll in our bathroom and not the one in the guest bath so it is just us that sees it!

    • I wish Monkey would just roll the toilet paper around! Your kitten actually sounds super cute. Monkey, loves to tear into it with her teeth and claws, and, like I had mentioned, dunk the roll into the toilet! She’s manic, but I’m neurotic and Roo loves me, so I guess she’ll always have a home here. But, that doesn’t mean I harass Roo occasionally for “picking the pretty one” at the shelter. 🙂

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! It means a lot to know it’s not my rambling to myself out there on the internet. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Potstickers with Quinoa and Shitake Mushroom Filling « Liz Lemon Nights

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