This Easy Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing might just be the easiest, moistest, most delicious cake you've ever made! Just one bowl!
* My vanilla beans were quite large, so I only used a half. Use a whole bean if yours are small. To get to the seeds, place the pod on a cutting board and use a small, sharp knife to cut down the length of the pod, trying not to cut all the way through. Once the pod has been sliced open, flatten it and scrape out the seeds with the side of the knife. Discard the empty pod or bury it in your sugar jar to flavor the sugar.
Sometimes vanilla beans can be hard to find, as many regular grocery stores only
carry vanilla extract. You can find them at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and also online. You could also use vanilla bean paste or just regular vanilla, though you won’t see all the fun little vanilla bean specks in the icing.
** Most cakes are baked at 350˚F. However when you’re baking a cake you’d like to have a flat, even top surface, it’s better to bake at 325˚F. At the higher temperature, the sides bake much quicker than the center, therefore the center has a chance to rise more. At 325˚F, you’ll find this type of cake will bake more evenly. It’s much nicer if you plan to ice it, as the layer of frosting will be nice and even.
One other trick for a flat topped cake: tear a long strip from an old terry cloth towel. It should be long enough to wrap around your cake pan (plus a little extra) and almost as wide as the height of the pan. Wet the strip with cold water and wring it out tightly. Wrap the wet strip around the outside of the pan and tie the extra in a knot. Bake as directed (the towel will not burn, I promise!). The wet towel will keep the outer edges of the pan from baking too quickly which is what will cause cakes to rise more in the center.
*** If you don't cool the cake completely, the icing will "melt" and become very thin. The cake can also end up soggy as the icing will seal in the moisture from the heat. That works well for some cakes but not this one. Can you tell I've learned this from experience?
Adapted from Once Upon a Chef