*Another post while travelling, from the Shan mountains in northern Myanmar!! Also sending this to Angie’s Fiesta on a bumpy but oh-such-fun horse cart, or maybe that water buffalo with birds standing on his back*
Looking through the SG archives, I couldn’t believe I’ve never
written gushed about my love of fresh ginger cake. David Lebovitz’s fresh ginger cake.
But first, is it a proper ginger post without a ginger pun? No? Ok, here we go: “What do you call a redhead that works in a bakery? – A gingerbread man/woman.”
Ahem, now we’ve got that out of the way, onto the fresh ginger cake.
This cake is described by the great DL himself as one of his most popular recipes, and one that appears in a number of Bay Area cafes. From a pastry chef/cookbook writer who is famous for his books devoted to ice cream, chocolate, and other contemporary good Parisian things, it is a big claim to say that a favourite recipe involves neither ice cream, nor chocolate, nor anything particularly Parisian.
It is, indeed, a beauty of a cake. Especially if you like the zing, heat, tingly back throat warm, of fresh ginger. This is fresh ginger dialled up to 10.5, approaching 11.
And lest you worry about eating a mouthful of the root, the ginger is beautifully supported by equally strong flavours from the molasses and spices. I’ve tried a few variations on the spice mix, from the classic cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, to a generous dash of allspice in a pinch, to a light sprinkling of five spice powder (which adds a slightly deeper, savoury note). All of the above, happily, have been approved by family/friends/colleagues.
And a glaze! Let’s not forget the magic of a glaze on this cake. You may want something creamy, to sooth the fieriness of ginger. You may want something piquant to play tango with the ginger and spices on your tongue. I’ve paired this with a lemon juice and icing sugar glaze, or a richer lemon curd. In both cases, the tart lemon sinks into gingery spices, resulting in a beautifully harmonious whole that seems much more mellow than its parts. This time, I made a coconut-rum syrup borrowed from DL’s Bahamian rum cake (glaze recipe below), which made it almost taste like Christmas.
Did I also mention this cake stays moist for days? It is really quite marvellous, as I could make it on the weekend for a mid-week bash, and maybe no one would be the wiser.
‘What if I’m not a ginger fanatic?’, you ask? Well, give this a try, maybe with a bit less ginger than called for. I’ve also found that using very young ginger – the ones that are still juicy and tender, before it becomes a mass of fibre, and you can cut through a stalk as you do bamboo or an under-ripe peach – tones down the ginger impact, resulting in a softer-tasting spice cake.
Fresh Ginger Cake
(from David Lebovitz, Ready for Dessert. The recipe here is reproduced from the versions printed by the Guardian online and Epicurious, one provides weight measures for flour etc, and one provides American cup measures.)
Fresh ginger cake
Makes one 23-cm cake; 10 to 12 servings
115g / 4 ounces piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
250ml / 1 cup of golden syrup / mild molasses
200g / 1 cup sugar
250ml / 1 cup vegetable oil, preferably peanut
350g/ 2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
250ml / 1 cup water
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350°F (gas mark 4). Butter the bottom and sides of a 23cm springform or round cake tin with 5cm sides (or 9 by 3-inch round cake pan or a 9 1/2 inch springform pan) and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or with a chef’s knife, chop the ginger until very fine. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the golden syrup, sugar, and oil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper.
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Whisk the hot water into the golden syrup mixture, then add the chopped ginger.
Gradually sift the flour mixture over the golden syrup mixture, whisking to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly blended.
Scrape the batter into the prepared springform or cake tin and bake until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger or a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour. Leave to cool completely.
Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the tin. Invert the cake onto a plate, peel off the parchment paper, then re-invert it onto a serving platter.
Storage: Because this cake is so moist, it keeps well for up to 5 days at room temperature. It can be frozen for up to 1 month.
4 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons heavy cream
6 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon dark rum
Combine the butter, cream, salt and sugar together in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar – this should take about 90 seconds. Remove from the heat, whisk in the rum, and let cool completely.
Tagged: allspice, baking, cinnamon, coconut, David Lebovitz, Fiesta Friday, five spice powder, fresh ginger cake, ginger, Lebovitz, molasses, nutmeg, recipes, rum, rum and coconut glaze, spices, young ginger