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Gâteau à la melasse – Molasses Cake

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molasses cake simon thibault pantry and palate

Photo by Noah Fecks. Courtesy of Nimbus Publishing.

An Acadian pantry is incomplete without molasses. I found many versions of this cake while digging around. It is a very simple yet dignified cake that can easily be eaten out of hand or as a quick snack when you’re headed out the door on a cold winter’s day. At the end of a meal, it’s a great little finish and can be jazzed up with some maple whipped cream or, as one test-baker suggested, a caramel sauce.

The original recipe would have been mixed by hand, but I find that mixing the batter with a hand-mixer or standing mixer yields a better result. I did have to do some playing around with this recipe, as the original version did not state what kind of cake pan was used. The recipe here suggests using a 10×10-inch cake pan, with a baking time of 45 minutes. If you don’t have a cake pan big enough to accommodate that space, a couple of loaf pans used for baking bread, or a bundt cake pan may be your best bet. Be sure to adjust your cooking times if you use another cake pan size. The molasses and baking soda reacting together will give the cake its rise, so be sure you have enough room for the cake to do so, with at least a 3/4-inch space. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with cake batter splattered all over the bottom of your oven. Be sure to grease your cake pan very well, otherwise the cake will stick to it; I tend to grease the pan as well as add parchment paper, to make sure it doesn’t.

Recipe courtesy of Simon Thibault, excerpted from the book Pantry and Palate

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (500 ml) molasses
  • 1 cup (250 ml) lard or shortening
  • 4 cups (1,000 ml) flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) all spice
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh ginger (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375˚F.
  2. Grease a 10x10-inch cake pan, and then dust generously with flour. Alternatively, add greased and floured parchment paper and place into cake pan.
  3. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, fold the flour and lard together on low speed until completely combined, about 4–5 minutes.
  4. Add the molasses, cinnamon, fresh ginger (if using), and allspice, and mix on low. Make sure to occasionally stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the molasses, lard, and seasonings are blended.
  5. Add the baking soda and salt, then the milk to the batter, and stir until well incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan, and place into the oven.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake has receded from the edges of the pan and a toothpick placed in the centre comes out clean. Depending on the size of your pan, it may take a bit more or less time. Just keep checking until it comes out nice and clean.
  8. Leave cake in pan for about 20 minutes, and then invert onto a rack.
Serve on its own, or as a dessert with Maple Whipped Cream.