My Christmas contribution was the be-all end-all of gingerbreads. I even bought a new bundt pan for the occasion (this one, from Nordic Ware, which manufactures everything in the US and was awarded a Green Business distinction - on sale at A Cook's Companion, very solidly made and with a lovely finish).
Really good molasses is the key to this sticky, spicy wonder, and baking it fills the house with a lovely, warm, yuletide smell.
The recipe calls for a 1/4 tsp of ground cloves, which I forgot to bring with me, and a pinch of ground cardamom, which I couldn't find for the life of me (nor could I find whole cardamom - where has all the cardamom gone? Maybe the way of the cowboys . . . ). Instead, I just upped the other spices slightly and didn't miss a thing.
Start by bringing one cup of Guinness (or similar oatmeal stout) and one cup of dark molasses to a boil on the stove. Use a larger pot than you think you'll need, because the mixture will froth and foam and rise quite a bit.
Once it's bubbling, whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and remove from heat. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
In the meantime, assemble your dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and whatever spices you are using. Since I was without cloves and cardamom, that meant a heaping 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cinammon, and nearly 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 large eggs, one cup brown sugar (I only had turbinado, so that's what I used), and one cup white sugar. Then add 3/4 cup vegetable oil, then the molasses mixture. Then add your dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
Then pour into your bundt pan, which has been thoroughly buttered and floured, bash a few times on the counter to remove any air bubbles, and pop into a 350 degree oven for fifty minutes.
Gooey, sticky, spicy perfection. Let cool a few minutes in the pan, then pop it out to cool.
Eat while still warm, maybe with a nice flurry of powdered sugar (it'll help conceal the spots of cake that stuck to the pan) and a friendly dollop of slightly sweetened fresh whipped cream.
Leftovers are not unwelcome for breakfast, either.