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Nov 1, 2005 04:45 PM

Ginger molasses cake report

  • c

Made this very good autumnal cake recently that I thought I'd pass on. I'm usually disappointed by most cakes, so it's surprising when I find something that's worth the calories and effort. Great texture and not too sweet. Photo and recipe linked below.

Served mine w/ homemade pumpkin ice cream, which matched well enough but not perfect IMO. Vanilla ice cream would be better. As suggested in the recipe, soft whipped cream would be good. Caramel would be overkill and too sweet IMO. Poached pieces of pear, apple, quince, or lemon (like a lemon confit) could be very good for an uplifting counterpoint.

I followed the recipe, for the most part. I don't like cinnamon much so only used 1 tsp. Also added about 2 more tsp. of ground ginger after tasting final batter. I wanted to use some fresh ginger but didn't have the time to peel and grate. I only had regular (dark) molasses on hand so used that instead. Would stick w/ the light (or reduce dark to 3/4 c.) since the full cup of dark was a bit overpowering and had an initial bitterness that mellowed after the first day. I used the requisite sour cream, but I don't see why buttermilk wouldn't work since it's just 1/4 c.

This recipe makes alot of batter so use a big bundt or tube pan. Mine was medium-sized so I poured the extra batter into 4 ramekins. Those got done around 30 min. while the bundt cake was done at nearly 45 min. The ones in the ramekins were very domed, so would make for great cupcakes w/ a vanilla or dulce de leche frosting.

Crumb of the cake was very tender and on the dense, tight side. Flavor was very deep and nicely-spiced. Left a gentle heat in the back of the throat and roof of the mouth, which I really liked. Got raves from all the adults, although the kids weren't as crazy about it which I half-expected. Mixed reviews on the pumpkin ice cream (mainly due to flavor), but I liked it! I'll do a separate report on that later.

PS. Make the cake one day in advance for best flavor. Also use butter (not oil spray) to grease pan since my canola oil spray left an icky residue after baking that I tried to brush off.



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  1. Looks great, Carb Lover! A perfect autumn dessert. I am glad to see there is another baker who is not terribly keen on cinnamon.

    I think you are spot-on re accompaniments. I often make the very spicy East-West Ginger Cake from Classic Home Desserts, with a simple vanilla custard sauce on the side--to me it suits perfectly, as would vanilla ice cream.

    I also recently acquired a great gingerbread recipe (uses, among other spices, fresh, ground and crystallized ginger as well as ground pepper and dry mustard--sounds gross but is amazing) and have made it several times. Fruit seems to go best on the side. Once I used plums poached with Armangnac, and as you know from my earlier posting I very recently served it with quince, which might have been even better.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LindaMc

      I tend to like cinnamon more in savory dishes than sweet. Your gingerbread cake sounds to paraphrase or cite the source?

      David Lebovitz's fresh ginger cake (at EPI) uses black pepper, and the pumpkin gingerbread cake by Maida Heatter calls for dry mustard, so doesn't sound too wierd at all.

      Since you have alot of experience using fresh and ground ginger together, what is usually a good ratio? For example, how would you modify the 7 tsp. of ground ginger that I used in this recipe? Thanks!

    2. Thanks for your comments on ingredient substitutions, the way to prep the pan for this particular cake-very helpful. If you had used fresh ginger, how fine would you have grated it?

      Seems like the cake would go well with tea?

      Looking forward to the pumpkin ice cream report!

      1 Reply
      1. re: petradish

        Since I might use just a TB of fresh ginger, I'd probably use my microplane. The small grate on my box grater would be quicker though and would be ok too. And yes, this cake is a perfect match for tea!! Since it's not too sweet, we've been munching on it for breakfast too...

      2. That is gorgeous! two quick questions, if you don't mind. First, I don't have either bundt or tube, can i just bake this in a regular loaf pan or a springform angel food size pan?
        Second: I love the idea of fresh ginger. Does it change the moistness, given that it's wet and powdered is, well, dry? or is the amt so small that it doesn't affect the cake? How much fresh would you use compared to dry?

        6 Replies
        1. re: fresser

          Sorry to butt in, Fresser and Carb Lover, but as a ginger lover I can't resist. I like to use fresh, powdered and crystallized ginger all in the same recipe whenever possible. If you are creaming butter and sugar, add the fresh (I usually grate it, capturing the juice) and crystallized (chopped as finely as possible) with those. If you can get super-fresh ginger at your farmers' market, go for it. It's very juicy and the texture is wonderful. Obviously Asian markets are also a great source for the freshest fresh ginger.

          Add the powdered ginger with the dry ingredients.

          I've done this with several recipes, most recently with a gingerbread I made a few days ago. For a 9" square pan I used a generous 2T each fresh and crystallized, and a generous teaspoon powdered (along with a lot of other spices). The depth of ginger flavor was wonderful, and even my husband, who is not as big a ginger fan as I am, loved it.

          Hope this helps.

          1. re: LindaMc

            I saw "ginger juice" in a jar (not refrigerated) at the local co-op the other day, from The Ginger People, the company that makes those amazing ginger-peanut candies that I can't have in the house for fear of eating myself into oblivion. Have you tried the juice? It struck me as a nice to have on hand, if the flavor was good, but I don't know if it really tasted like fresh ginger or not.


            1. re: curiousbaker

              About a month ago I was at a "Green festival" and there was a company, based in Baltimore (I can't remember the name), handing out samples of ginger juice. It was fantastic! Very distinctive ginger flavor. I have not been able to find it in the shops and have been kicking myself for not laying in a supply on that day...

              1. re: curiousbaker
                Caitlin McGrath

                I try to keep a bottle of Ginger People juice in my fridge (after opening). It's a pretty good facsimile of fresh ginger, though missing the marvelous aroma you get when grating ginger. It's great and easy for things like cocktails that call for ginger juice and salad dressings where you don't want the texture of minced or shredded ginger, and saves the somewhat tedious grating and sieving of a lot of ginger to make juice. I also use it in marinades if I'm stuck without fresh ginger. I haven't used it in baking vs. grating fresh, and obviously it won't do for stir-fries, but I do find it useful to have around.

              2. re: LindaMc

                thanks Linda! left to my own devices, i probably would've put the fresh ginger in with the other spices, which would be silly, of course, but not surprising given how literal minded i can sometimes be! can't wait to try fresh ginger in the oatmeal cookies i make!

              3. re: fresser

                I'm glad that LindaMc jumped in since I haven't used fresh ginger in baking much. To address your questions:

                1. This is a very versatile batter and could probably be baked in many different pans...loaf, springform, muffin/cupcake tin, etc. I would keep the same temp. but just check it earlier for doneness. Since it's quite a bit of batter, I would divide into 2 loaf pans. Angel food pan should be fine, as should a 10" springform. For most pans, I think it would be fine to fill up 2/3-3/4 full. If you have extra batter, use ramekins if you have some.

                2. Fresh ginger will alter the moisture level, so keep this in mind when deciding how much to use. While the cake that I made was nicely moist, it didn't have that luscious wetness that some cakes have, and I think fresh ginger will move it into that realm (which I like!). Next time, I will probably use one TB of fresh ginger and 4-5 tsp. dried. Probably less dried if using light molasses though. This is really personal taste and speculation though, so just experiment to see what you like...