Friday, 7 October 2011

White Pepper and Ginger Lemon Cake

This is a brand-new version of an early American buttermilk cake – white pepper and ginger are “hot” right now.’ p49, Maida Heatter's Cakes
 Maybe Maida was writing this some decades ago, but I think this cake is still pretty hot – and a lot more interesting than the famous East 62nd Lemon Cake.

Letting it age one or two days allows the flavours to mellow. I put this first up lest you, like me, would otherwise get through the whole process and find out you should have made the cake for today’s meeting yesterday.

breadcrumbs for dusting
finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2cm x 4cm piece fresh ginger
375g plain flour
3/4 teaspoons bicarb soda
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
230g unsalted butter
350g sugar
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 170C.

As Maida always suggests, and as I have never done before, butter a bundt tube pan, not forgetting the centre tube. Sprinkle in breadcrumbs, tilt to cover the whole inside surface, and shake out excess. I have not had a trouble-free relationship with my silicon bundt tin, which should transcend the need for this process, but doesn’t, so I returned to the tin tin with a humbled mien.

In a cup, combine the zest and juice. Grate the fresh ginger and add to the cup. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pepper and set aside.

Beat the butter until soft, add sugar and beat for a minute before adding the eggs one at a time. On a low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk. Stir in lemon and ginger mixture.

Turn into prepared pan and smooth the top. Place in the bottom third of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15–20 minutes until it tests done with a bamboo skewer. Don’t hold the blunt end of the used bamboo skewer in your mouth while sliding the oven rack back in carefully with both hands so as not to disturb the risen cake, and then bump the sharp end of the skewer while hastily withdrawing the oven mitt, driving the blunt-yet-still-sharpish end painfully into the back of your throat – this won’t help matters and may make you angry and lead to bitterness about having nowhere to put things when you’re in a hurry and your hands are full.

Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then invert (with the greatest of ease, thanks to the breadcrumbing) onto a rack over a large piece of baking paper to catch the glaze which you, of course, prepared by stirring together while the cake was baking. Brush the glaze all over the cake, not forgetting the centre hole, and keep recoating as the cake absorbs it as I do a vodkatini on a Friday night. Let stand until completely cool, then cover with cling film.

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