Monday, September 26, 2011

Ginger Ginger Cake

It would seem from all the ginger recipes in this book that the 80's were a prime time for desserts with fresh and candied ginger. Since my mother took Chinese cooking classes in the 70s, those ingredients had become a staple in our house, but they were still pretty exotic and "nouvelle cuisine" in the 80s--so much so that I believe we had to go to the Asian food store to buy them. Now when I go to the market stand and ask for candied ginger, the vendor asks me to choose from three different kinds! Times have changed. But this remains an outstanding recipe.

 Like the Apricot Strip a couple of weeks ago, I took this cake to a gathering of new expat parents where they could gather important information and share experiences. And drink coffee and eat cake. There were lots of delicious goodies on hand. But I have to brag that I was unable to bring any cake back home with me.

In fact, the cake disappeared so fast I was unable to get a good photograph of it! As it was cooling on the table, little gremlin hands started picking at it. Children emerged from their rooms to ask if they could have "just one slice". And that one slice became a quarter, then a third, then half a cake. Finally, I had to slice it up and put it away so that there would be something to take to the gathering!

So to describe the cake: it's definitely not gingerbread, and although there's an insane amount of ginger in it, it doesn't hit you over the head. Many of the tasters commented on its subtlety. In fact, one woman insisted that the recipe could not possibly be American--I'm not sure if that was because of the subtlety or because there was no cinnamon in it. No matter--the cake is moist and buttery and delicious. Claire, the resident ginger fan, has claimed it as her birthday cake. If you love ginger, or even like it, you should make this cake.

Here's the recipe.

Ginger Ginger Cake

1 cup (8 oz.) butter, room temperature
1/4 t. baking soda
3-4 oz. fresh ginger (3-4 x 1 inch), finely grated
2-3/4 c. (19.25 oz) sugar, divided (I used 1 pound, which seemed to be plenty)
6 large eggs, SEPARATED (I almost forgot)
3 c. (12 oz.) sifted flour (I threw in a cup of whole wheat)
1 c. (8 oz.) sour cream
3/4 c. (6 oz.) candied ginger, snipped with scissors into 1/4-inch pieces
Pinch salt

Heat the oven to 350. Butter a large tube or angel food cake pan (I don't see why a Bundt pan wouldn't work here) and coat it with breadcrumbs or wheat germ or ground almonds. Cream the butter with the baking soda until fluffy. Add the ginger and all but 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes or until light. Beat in the egg yolks. On low speed gradually add the flour in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions. Stir in HALF the candied ginger (I forgot about this and added it all. The cake was still delicious.). 
In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold a soft shape. Gradually beat in the reserved 1/2 cup sugar and beat until the egg whites hold a fairly stiff shape--don't overbeat. 
Fold the egg whites into the ginger-filled batter in three additions. The batter is pretty heavy, so don't try to hard to incorporate the egg whites well the first two additions. When all the egg whites have been folded in, pour the batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle the reserved candied ginger on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 1-1/2 hours (mine took a little more than an hour) or until a tester comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before unmolding it and cooling completely on a rack. Cut into slices and stash away if you want a piece.

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