Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pehme piparkook or Soft Gingerbread Cake - one of my favourite Christmas cakes

Christmas cake / Pehme piparkook

I've been making this very cake for Christmas for about 6-7 years now, and it's still one of the favourites with friends and family. I made it again for a friend's birthday party last weekend, tuning the recipe a bit - reducing the amount of sugar (you could use even less, I bet), and replacing melted butter with mild-tasting oil in the batter.

There are two things to keep in mind. First, the cake is eggless (so suitable for people with egg allergies!) and the raising agent is baking soda/bicarbonate of soda. As with other similar batters, it's important to bake the cake straight away after mixing the batter - the baking soda starts to react with acid in the batter (kefir in this case) within 15-20 minutes, and if you don't bake the cake during that time, you'll end up with a very flat christmas cake :( Secondly, you could use a much larger cake sheet, but i like this in the specified size - the cake will be about 4 cm in height, which is good for me.

Soft Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(Pehme piparkook toorjuustuglasuuriga)

Makes a large cake that'll easily feed about 20

400 g plain flour
300 g caster sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp baking soda
0.5 tsp salt
500 ml (2 cups) kefir or cultured buttermilk
150 g lingonberry jam (IKEA stocks some)
100 g rapeseed oil or light olive oil

Cream cheese frosting:
200 g plain cream cheese, at room temperature
50 g unsalted butter, softened
150 g icing sugar/confectioner's sugar

lingonberries or cranberries
hazelnuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius. Line a 25x30 cm cake tin with parchment paper (or simply butter it well).

Make the cake batter first. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine kefir, lingonberry jam and oil in a large measuring jug. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir quickly so the batter comes together. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when pierced into the middle of the cake.
Let the cake cool completely (wrap in clingfilm if not decorating straight away).

For the frosting, combine the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar in a bowl - I use a wooden spoon for that, but you could also use an electric mixer. Spread the frosting over the cake.

Decorate with red berries and toasted hazelnuts or something else festive :)


Lauren said...

This looks absolutely fantastic! I'm definitely saving this recipe for later use! :]

Anonymous said...

Pille what kind of jam can I use in place of the lingonberry jam that I can get here in the U.S.? I looked on line at our IKEA and it said that they don't have it at our store! I would like to make this cake for Christmas.

Thank you,

Hannah said...

Thank you for this gorgeous, spiced cake recipe! It's very far removed from the traditional Christmas foods my family and I eat on Christmas Day, but I'll certainly be aiming to give it a try in upcoming weeks :)

Anonymous said...

Pille, Thank you so much! Since both my girls are from Estonia I would like to start making an Estonian dish every year for Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

Koogi Kata said...

Carla, You may want to reach out to Mary at Simply Scandinavian Foods.
They carry lingonberry jam and ship it as well.

Kristopher said...

I've always wondered (and been paranoid) about the time factor when using baking soda...assume that cold temps might slow down the reaction.

Sophie said...

What a stunning, festive & inspired gingerbread cake! Love it to bits!

Richelle said...

Gingerbread cake without ginger? Is that an oversight or do I miss something?

Vicki Carroll said...

This looks really good, but how much ginger in this gingerbread? I'm intrigued by the lingonberry jam, and since I have some of my cranberry sauce (you indicate that may be substituted for the lingonberry jam) and my home made buttermilk in the fridge, I'm anxious to try this recipe.

Pille said...

Lauren - do try it!

Carla - you could try cranberry jam or cranberry sauce!

Hannah - I do hope you'll enjoy this.

Anon. - I bet the girls will love this - it's very Estonian in its flavours!

Koogi Kata - aitäh abi eest!

Kristopher - as long as your cake is in a hot oven within about 20 minutes from mixing together, you should be fine.

Sophie - it's a festive cake indeed - and you could decorate it any way you fancy..

Richelle - well, the Estonian (and Scandinavian) name is actually "soft peppercake" - and there's no pepper in it either. Gingerbread is often used as a general name for spiced Christmas cookies, that's why I called the cake "soft gingerbread cake". Perhaps "soft spiced cake" is more appropriate. ALAS, no ginger in this cake - though half a teaspoon or so could always be added!

Vicky - you can add some ginger, if you wish (see previous comment reply). said...

This looks delicious! I did a similar gingerbread cake.

One on my favs.


Carla said...

I am so excited, I found some lingonberry jam at our IKEA store. I bought a jar to put up so I can make this cake for our Christmas this year (if I can wait that long)!!! :)

Carla said...

I finally got to make this cake for our Christmas and we "loved" it, in fact my husbands birthday was the 28th and I made another one for his birthday (since he said that was his new favorite cake and I already had everything to make it again)! I even used the lingonberry jam and the kefir and it is so easy! :)Thank you so much! And we have just started the process to adopt another little girl from Estonia (our third). :)

Pille said...

Carla, so pleased to hear that!!! xo