Cakes/Desserts

Gingerbread Mountain

Note:  The word “Grateful” is a Christmas card that my good friend Cary at ZFactory made.  Feel free to check out his other card designs here:  ZFactory Christmas cards.

This cake is so big, it took a poll on my Facebook page to come up with a name!

It’s gingerbread layer cake, with buttery sliced apples, a light cream cheese filling and a rich custard topping.  It’s gingerbread overload. It’s gingerbread gone crazy .

It’s Gingerbread Mountain.

I knew I wanted the cake to be 3 layers, but I only own 2 cake pans.  Since I didn’t want to go out and buy another cake pan, and assuming that other people would only have 2 cake pans, I set out to make 3 layers out of 2 pans.  Finally, I came up with the scheme to put 1/3 of the batter into one pan, and 2/3 in the remaining pan. Then I knew they wouldn’t bake at the same rate, so I removed the first pan after 20 minutes.  Worked like a charm.   I figured I could cut the larger layer in half horizontally;  although, I didn’t have much experience in slicing cakes in half.  What do ya know–worked like a charm also.

So how did it taste?  I wasn’t sure. And I broke a cardinal rule.  I served it at a church potluck the next day.  Yep, the good folks of Southside Christian Church were going to be my guinea pigs, without my having tasted it first!  Well, it’s not like I could whack out a slab and taste it.  That would ruin the presentation!  On the other hand, I couldn’t serve anything that tasted like crap.

So this is where we come to the good news/bad news.  Which do you want first?

Good news:  the cake tasted great!  And it held up strong like a steel tower as people cut slices from it.

Bad news?  I never got a picture of it; but I figured that was no problem, because I had planned to make another one for Thanksgiving. A few days later, I made the 2nd cake and the custard layer did not set properly.  I stuck the cake in the freezer so that the custard would set faster, and when I checked on it later, the layers had slid all over inside the freezer!  I figured out that I didn’t mix the gelatin properly and that’s why the custard didn’t thicken as it should.  Needless to say, Cake #2 ended up being a gingerbread trifle instead of a cake!

Cake #3–I mixed the gelatin more thoroughly and layered the apples on the bottom to make it more sturdy. Success!

Gingerbread Mountain
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Cake:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground clove
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 1½ cup milk
Custard:
  • 4 egg yolks (well beaten)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Apple Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold whipping cream
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1¼ cups + 1 teaspoon powdered sugar, divided
  • toasted walnuts for garnish
Instructions
  1. For the cake, preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans (I use cooking spray that includes flour). Whisk together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and clove in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, eggs and molasses. Add the dry ingredients and milk, alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Measure 1½ cups of the batter and pour into one cake pan. Pour the remaining batter into the other pan. Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes. Remove the smaller layer from the oven. Bake remaining layer for another 25-30 minutes. OR, if you have 3 cake pans, put ⅓ of the batter into each pan and bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool all layers on a wire rack in the pans.
  2. For the custard, make a paste of the egg yolks, flour, sugars and small amount of the milk in a heavy medium saucepan. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat remaining milk 1 minute. Slowly add milk to the egg mixture and, stirring constantly, cook over medium low heat 7-10 minutes or until thickened (mixture will thicken more as it cools). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour custard into a medium bowl, then press plastic wrap onto the surface to eliminate a skin. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet till foamy (but not brown). Add apple slices, cinnamon and sugar. Cook apples a few minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
  4. Soften the gelatin in the water for about 5 minutes in a microwave-safe dish. In a medium chilled bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form. (If you want some tips on whipping cream, watch my episode of How to Make Fresh Whipped Cream.) In a small bowl, cream together cream cheese and 1¼ cups powdered sugar. Microwave gelatin until it dissolves and starts to bubble around the edges, around 30 seconds. Stir ½ of the dissolved gelatin into the cream cheese mixture and combine well. Stir the other ½ of the gelatin into the custard and combine well. Make sure you integrate the gelatin thoroughly or you will have chunks of gelatin in your fillings! Fold ½ of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Sweeten the other ½ with remaining teaspoon powdered sugar and save for garnish. Put both fillings back into the fridge for another 30-60 minutes.
  5. To assemble, place the smaller layer of cake on a cake plate. Place the apples over the cake, reserving a few for garnish. Cut the larger layer in half horizontally. Place the bottom half of the cake layer on top of the apples. Spread cream cheese filling over 2nd cake layer. Place remaining cake layer on top. If the cake domed a lot while baking, trim off the dome to make it flatter. Spread custard over the top cake layer. If any of the fillings are still not set, stick the cake into the freezer for 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Top with apples, walnuts and whipped cream garnish. Refrigerate any leftover cake.

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