Friday, December 07, 2007


Dark & Spicy Gingerbread Cake


It was shaping up to be a bracingly chilly night, (by Los Angeles standards) and it was time for my dearest Ombudsman to thrill us with his annual holiday concert (he plays in an orchestra in his free time. Oh that man. So suave.)

The Hostess was coming over for a bit of warming sustenance before we headed out for the two hour, pre-dinner, Haydn extravaganza. In my hazy holidazed state, I commited three hours to whip something up that would sustain us. Inspection of my overburdened pantry shouted out that gingerbread and mulled wine were the order of the day. The natural fit for a winters night and the ingredients were all on hand.

While my usual gingerbread recipe is quite nice, I decided on a whim to see what else (the late) Mr. Sax, author of flawless cookbook, Classic Home Desserts had to say on the matter. It is my go-to tome for solid baking ideas indeed, and for years, I have stuck with a recipe he calls Eliza Acton's Gingerbread.

But for some reason, my attention drifted to the left side page, and what did my dancing eyes see? The gingerbread therein? Well my dears, it was East-West Ginger Cake, developed by the one and only David Lebovitz of Parisian baking/blogging fame! How chic and fab is that!? Color me giddy.

There was no doubt about it, I had to make it. But, being me, I changed it make it less sweet and more richly spicy. What I retained from super-chef David was the fantastic simplicity of the method, and the judicious use of fresh ginger. He really was on to something there! Brilliant.

It is impertive that in making this you recall that, in the grand tradition of gingerbread cake, this really, really, really does improve as the days go by. So if you can keep some on hand for three days, you will have a cake beyond compare.

Try this my dears, and taste the joy.

2 3/4 cups white flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 T. melted butter
1 cup molasses
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup golden raisins/sultanas

Preheat your oven to 350F

Butter and lightly dust with flour a 10 inch square baking pan. (Don't try to do this with canola oil bakers spray. Wow does that not work.)

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground ginger and fresh ground pepper.

In a large bowl mix together the sugars, oil, melted butter, molasses and eggs. Beat them with an electric mixer until well blended. Stir in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Mix the baking soda into the boiling water. Careful, this will fizz. Pour that into the batter and stir. Add the ginger and raisins and stir again.

Pour into the pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely before serving. Ideally, let it sit for two days, then serve.


Sweet Suzanne. Is there nothing she can't do? She "baked a bitter­sweet chocolate soufflé crêpe topped with a Banyuls glacé, " indeed. I am so privileged to eat her desserts so often!

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this looks sooooo good
'ideally,' let it sit for two days. with how amazing your recipe sounds (and your food looks), i'd deem that nearly impossible.
i love the idea of making it less sweet. mmm. it sounds perfect for the cold days over here.
These are some amazingly beautiful and yummy squares of goodness!
2 days? Yeah right. Could barely sit through the hour of baking. I'm pretty much a pig. Yep.
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