Autumn brings thoughts of ginger – ginger snaps, ginger bread, and our new family favorite – Ginger Cake. I’m not sure what makes ginger a cold weather spice in our society. Maybe it’s because in cooler climates like ours, the rhizomes are harvested in autumn. No matter – I love ginger all year round, and keep crystallized ginger in the freezer to use in recipes or munch on whenever I want a tangy bite.
This particular recipe uses both ground and fresh ginger root – an entire 4 oz of fresh ginger, to be exact. This looks like a lot while you are chopping it, but don’t worry. It tastes just fine and the small pieces are undetectable in the final product except as flavor. The cake itself is moist, flavorful and really very special.
Making this cake is almost as fun as eating it. Remember that erupting volcano you made for your 4th grade science fair? You get to relive that experience when you add the baking soda to the boiling beer/molasses mixture. Bring the kids in to watch – it really erupts! (Science buffs can tell us why in the comments.) Make sure you use a large pot, or you’ll have a real mess on your hands.
STOUT GINGER CAKE
This recipe comes from the Gramercy Tavern, was originally published in Gourmet and is now available on Epicurious. The original recipe calls for Guinness Stout, but here I used a double chocolate Stout that gave it an exceptionally fine flavor. I’ve also added a garnish of sliced candied ginger and serve it with a dollop of whipped cream. I like my whipped cream with a tad of sugar, but you can make yours unsweetened if you prefer. Thanks to Irene for introducing us to this wonderful cake and talking me through the baking of it.
1 cup stout beer (Guinness or other – I used Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, available at Food Emporium here in NYC)
1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
½ tbsp. baking soda
4 oz. piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped by hand (make it as fine as you can)
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup canola oil (you can use vegetable or peanut oil if that’s what you have on hand)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsps. ground ginger
1 ½ tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Sweetened whipped cream and and thinly sliced crystallized ginger for topping and garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8 or 9 inch tube pan.
2. In a very large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the baking soda. Allow to sit until the foam dissipates. Stir in the chopped fresh ginger and let it steep while the mixture cools to room temp.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs and both sugars. Whisk in the vanilla and oil.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper.
5. Combine the stout mixture with the egg mixture, then whisk this liquid into the flour mixture, half at a time.
6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the top springs when gently pressed. (Mine took exactly an hour, Irene advised you to check yours at 50 minutes) Do not open the oven until the cake is almost done, or the cake may fall slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Make sure to cool completely and loosen the edges well before inverting onto plate – it should come away intact.
Serve with crystallized ginger slices and whipped cream.
Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 cup cold whipping cream
3 tbsp confectioner sugar
a drop of vanilla
Combine ingredients in a large bowl and whip at high speed using an electric mixer till it forms soft peaks. Refrigerate till use.