Ellen Clifford
November 21, 2015 7:57 am

It’s Gingerbread Day! In a serendipitous turn of events turn of events, I had a bunch of ginger goodness land in my life all at the same time. Love it when that happens. So today you get a recipe with a tea pairing. I mean, a girl can try to live on wine alone but she probably should not. Hence tea.

If cozying up with some gingerbread makes you want to be transported to a warm London bakery then Claire Ptak’s The Violet Bakery Cookbook is for you. Her baked goods have a bit of the spirit of the West Coast in them, as she is a California native. She emphasizes the importance of natural ingredients, and less sugar when possible. Which is not to say she doesn’t have treats that are plenty sweet. She does. However, as the esteemed Alice Waters says in the intro, Ptak has “an unerring sense of balance.” So nothing is ever too sweet, but just right.

Ptak cut her teeth at Alice Waters’ famed Chez Panisse, eventually becoming pastry chef. She also has done a good bit of food styling, although she states that looks and presentation, while grand, are not the most important thing. Taste matters most. And Ptak has well-honed taste buds.

Ptak’s adopted home of London shows up in her vocabulary. She uses British words like “moreish” that make me squeal in delight. I love these little verbal nuances. Incidentally, I had to looked up what “moreish” means. In my head it had meant that the baked good is just more goodness than anything words can describe. But according to everything I’m seeing on ye olde web search it means “causing you to want to eat more, or addictive.” Not bad either way. Your word of the day is moreish.

I happen to find gingerbread to be a “moreish” food. The more the better. And because today is National Gingerbread Day so I wanted to share the recipe for the ginger molasses cake. I highly recommend eating with a nice cup of Teavana’s Gingerbread Black tea (thanks Teavana!) with perhaps a smidgen of sugar added. Much like pairing a dessert wine, you want your dessert tea on a similar level of sweetness to the dessert.

Ginger molasses cake

The Violet ginger cake is made with freshly grated ginger, cloves, earthy molasses, and cinnamon. I love the taste of cloves but only when you can barely detect it, as a subtle supporting act. This cake is simple, but the order of things is crucial for it to turn out correctly.

 Makes one 23-cm (9-inch) cake or two 15-cm (6-inch) cakes, serving 8 to 10

FOR THE SPONGE

150g (5 ounces) fresh ginger

300g (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

150g (¾ cup) sugar

200g (¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons) vegetable oil

250g (¾ cup) molasses

225g (1 cup) boiling water

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 eggs

butter, for greasing the pan

FOR THE LEMON GLAZE

250g (1¾ cups) confectioners’ sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F (130°C/265°F convection). Butter a 23-cm (9-inch) cake pan (or two 15-cm/6-inch layer pans) and line with parchment paper.

Peel the ginger and cut into 2-mm (1⁄__-inch) slices. Pulverize the ginger in a food processor and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, and cloves. Whisk and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, oil, and molasses and whisk well.

Pour the boiling water into a glass jug and stir in the baking soda. Pour this into the sugar mixture and whisk well (the mixture should start to get foamy on top). Add the ginger and mix until evenly combined. Add the flour mixture, making sure you mix in the same direction (e.g., clockwise) the entire time. Don’t change direction or you will get flour lumps. Don’t overmix or the cake will be tough and dense.

Whisk the eggs in a separate, clean bowl and add to the cake batter until just combined. Pour into your prepared cake pan (or pans) and bake for about 1 hour, until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back to the touch. Leave to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth and drizzle over the top. This cake keeps well for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

CREDIT: Reprinted with permission from The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak, copyright (c) 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

(Photograph copyright (c) 2015 by Kristin Perers/ Featured image via Shutterstock)

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