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Guinness Gingerbread

Asked by bookcake. Answered on 3rd September 2015

Full question

Hello! I made Nigella's Guinness Gingerbread swapping Guinness for a non-alcoholic ginger beer. I have a fan oven so I baked it at 160 C for 45 minutes rather than 170C as per the recipe in Kitchen. When it was baked and cut it there was some rise but didn't look as 'fluffy' as the picture in the book, and there was a thin line of dense batter across the bottom of the bake. Could the problem have been the substituted liquid not reacting with the bicarbonate of soda? Would it make a difference if I used an alcoholic ginger beer instead? Thanks!

Our answer

Nigella's Guinness Gingerbread (from Christmas) is a sticky gingerbread cake that is made using Guinness, golden syrup, sour cream and butter, with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) as the raising agent. We do not think the issue is related to the alcohol in the Guinness. Bicarbonate of soda is an alkaline and needs acid ingredients to react with to create carbon dioxide bubbles. Guinness is mildly acidic and the recipe also uses sour cream and these provide the acidity. Ginger beer is also mildly acidic so it should be a reasonable substitute.

However if the slight change in acidity is affecting the way the bicarbonate of soda reacts then you may need to change some of the bicarbonate of soda for baking powder. We would suggest maybe using 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda instead of the 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda. However we would also mention that if you have not measured the bicarbonate of soda properly this could also have caused the change in the texture of the cake. Use proper 5ml measuring spoons and use level teaspoons. Also make sure that the bicarbonate of soda is not lumpy (which can sometimes happen in humid weather) and is within its "best before" date. It may help to sift or whisk together the flour and raising agents before adding them to the saucepan of wet ingredients. Also check your oven handbook for their advice on adjusting the oven temperature and make sure that the oven is fully preheated before mixing the flour into the wet ingredients.

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