Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Fresh ginger cake


David Lebovitz seems to have been making this cake for decades – it’s online at Epicurious from 1999, and also in his Ready for Dessert (p42) – and for good reason.

This had a better reception than my made-up ginger brownies and Maida’s gingerful biscotti put together. It was rich and light, and pleasantly hot and bitey, and each crumb glowed golden. That may sound as if I’ve taken leave of my senses and am seeing miracles, but it’s true. I put it down to the workings-together of the oil and treacle and ginger. I’m sure it was also this combination that gave the cake its gloriously sticky shiny surface.

115g piece fresh ginger
250ml mild molasses (?? I used half-and-half Lyle’s golden syrup and black treacle)
200g sugar
250ml vegetable oil (I used peanut)
350g plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
250ml water
2 teaspoons bicarb soda
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a not-shallow 20-cm square (or 22cm round springform) cake tin with baking paper.

Scrape the skin off the ginger with a teaspoon (that way you don’t waste any, as you do with a peeler or knife) and chop a bit. I blitzed my ginger in the small food-processor attachment that came with my stick blender and that I love and use daily, or you can be tough and do this by hand until very fine.

In a large bowl (the KitchenAid for me, but see issue with sifting over flour below), mix the molasses or substitute, sugar and oil – perhaps because I wilfully insist on using raw sugar, I ended up with an incredibly gluggy mixture where the sugar kept sinking to the bottom. Separately whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper.

Bring the water to boil in a small saucepan (or I boiled the kettle), then stir in the bicarb soda. Beat the hot water into the golden syrup mixture, then add the chopped ginger.

Gradually sift the flour mixture over the golden syrup mixture, beating gently and in fits and starts to combine (since I haven’t been able to get around the problem of how to sift flour over while the thing’s running – perhaps a case for going the manually-mixing route for this one). Add the eggs and beat until thoroughly blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about an hour, until a bamboo skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.

David suggests serving it with a fruit compote, or a lemon curd whipped with cream, which would have been my choice if I’d had cream. I felt that it needed something.

Just one other good thing about this cake is that, as it’s so moist, it keeps well for up to 5 days at room temperature. This baby could go through the post for a Xmas present. And it can be frozen for up to a month.

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