We had another dinner party Saturday–this for the professor I worked for in NH, as well as our friend Kabir and Nicole and one of our neighbors. We got a late start that day and I didn’t get to start cooking until 4 or so, agh! I’m going to post in two entries, so there aren’t quite so many photos in each…
Let’s start at the end: Dessert. Since last year I’ve been on the lookout for a really mollasses-y gingerbread recipe. David Lebovitz‘s Fresh Ginger Cake (the recipe is in happy printer-friendly format here at Epicurious) certainly gets great reviews, and I love his blog and hadn’t yet tried any of his recipes, so I thought I’d give it a try. Let’s take a look at the ingredients:
Fresh Ginger Cake
From Room for Dessert, by David Lebovitz
4 ounces fresh ginger
1 cup mild molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil, preferably peanut
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs, at room temperature
What was that? You don’t know how bulky four ounces of ginger is likely to be? Here, I’ll help you out:
“Kate,” I can hear you saying. “You have guests showing up in a couple hours. Should you have started peeling all that ginger a while ago?”
Yes. Yes, I should have. It TOOK FOREVER.
Position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 by 3-inch round cake pan or a 9 1/2 inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper.
Peel, slice, and chop the ginger very fine with a knife (or use a grater).
Mmhmm. I grated about half, and the rest had to be chopped, to avoid grating my fingers. I hate peeling and cutting ginger. I love the smell but it’s so time-consuming and annoying. In the photo below, the grated pile is on the left and the chopped pile is on the right. I think grating is better because you don’t get any rogue chunks of ginger that slip through your careful fingers and surprise you later.
By the time I finished the ginger I was panicked about getting the rest of the cake done and baked before I had to start braising dinner, but it did work out ok. More on that later.
Mix together the molasses, sugar, and oil.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper.
Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan, stir in the baking soda, [that part is bubbly and fun] and then mix the hot water into the molasses mixture. Stir in the ginger.
Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the batter. Add the eggs, and continue mixing until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
By the way, I got a flat whisk like this for Christmas in my stocking, and it’s fantastic. I highly recommend getting one–it combines things really fast and evenly, and you don’t end up with anything clumped in the middle of the whisk.
Bake for about 1 hour, until the top of the cake springs back lightly when pressed or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top of the cake browns too quickly before the cake is done, drape a piece of foil over it and continue baking.
Cool the cake for at least 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and peel off the parchment paper.
My oven (the new Viking) is fritzy, and I think the cake took an hour and a half to bake, and then the edges were more than a little tough. I have to call Viking; the oven temp will drop to 150 while it’s set to 375, etc. It’s nuts.
I served the cake with whipped cream and a few bits of crystallized ginger on each slice.
We had a lot left over (isn’t it a nice tall cake??) and for breakfast I had a slice with some of the extra lemon curd from last week’s tart. The cake is definitely nice with something creamy like whipped cream or the lemon curd, since there is a good ginger bite to it.
I really liked the cake, and I appreciated how incredibly accurate and logical and simple the recipe was. The batter came together really nicely and was fun to make. It’s not the cake I’m looking for, though. I want less of the fresh ginger and more molasses flavor (I was already using dark instead of mild molasses). I might play with the recipe, since I did like the texture of this. Maybe with ground ginger and some allspice for more of a spice cake flavor….?