In our opinion, gingerbread is only worth eating if its flavor is unmistakably bold and spicy. For our gingerbread bundt cake, the standard liquid combination of mild molasses and water seemed lackluster.
Robust molasses had more presence in our scaled-up cake, and we replaced the water with stout for a deeper flavor profile. The beer gave the cake a malty tang that tasters loved. Powdered ginger provided a spicy kick, and a little cinnamon and allspice contributed warm notes.
Blooming the spices in melted butter — a technique the test kitchen uses for savory spiced dishes — intensified their flavor, but tasters still wanted more ginger. A bit of grated fresh ginger added another layer of heat that the dried spice alone couldn’t muster. And another traditionally savory ingredient, black pepper, added a mild bite that further enhanced the ginger flavor.
We used the glaze as one final opportunity to turn up the heat by mixing a little ground ginger in with the confectioners’ sugar and adding a few tablespoons of ginger ale to thin the glaze to just the right consistency. Guinness is the test kitchen’s preferred brand of stout for this cake.
Bold and Spicy Gingerbread Bundt Cake
Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup robust or full molasses
3/4 cup stout beer
1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons ginger ale
1 teaspoon ground ginger
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 12-cup nonstick bundt pan with baking spray with flour. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let butter mixture cool slightly.
Whisk eggs, sugar, and fresh ginger together in large bowl until light and frothy. Stir in melted butter mixture, molasses, and beer until incorporated. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and whisk until no lumps remain.
Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes. Invert cake onto rack, remove pan, and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
For the glaze: Whisk sugar, ginger ale, and ginger together in bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake and let set, about 15 minutes, before serving.