Heating Up the Holidays Gingerbread Cake

From Cook's Illustrated, January 2011

3/4     cup Guinness Stout (see note)
1/2     teaspoon baking soda
2/3     cup mild molasses
3/4     cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1/4     cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/2   cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for dusting pan
2        tablespoons ground ginger (if you like things less spicy cut down ginger to 1 tablespoon)
1/2     teaspoon baking powder
1/2     teaspoon table salt
1/4     teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4     teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2        large eggs
1/3     cup vegetable oil
1        tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

Ice cream or whipped cream for serving

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 8-inch square baking pan.

Bring stout to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will
foam vigorously).

When foaming subsides, stir in molasses, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until dissolved; set mixture aside.

Whisk flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper together in large bowl; set aside.

Transfer stout mixture to large bowl. Whisk in eggs, oil, and grated ginger until combined.

Whisk wet mixture into flour mixture in thirds, stirring vigorously until completely smooth after each addition.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and gently tap pan against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Bake until top of cake is just firm to touch and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on wire rack, about 90 minutes. Either turn out cake onto serving platter or cut into squares in pan.  Serve warm or
at room temperature plain or with caramel, vanilla or coffee ice creams or whipped cream.

Notes from Cook's Illustrated: Avoid opening the oven door until the minimum baking time has elapsed. If your cake pan has thin walls, you might want to wrap it with premade cake strips or make your own from cheesecloth and foil. This extra insulation will help ensure that the edges of the cake don't overbake.