Saturday, October 29, 2011

White Pepper and Ginger Lemon Cake

This recipe is the last in the category "other cakes". I am really down to just a few categories in the book: cakes with fruit, cheesecakes (one more), puddings, chocolate cookies, other cookies, and sauces.

I'm kind of sad about that because I liked the "other cakes" category, which mostly included buttery Bundt-type cakes (often with booze). I have to say I'm a Bundt-cake person because I'm the kind of person who scrapes off her frosting. Give me a nice glaze and I'm happy, though.

All this to say that I really liked this cake. Lots of butter, lots of lemon, and lots of peppery heat from the ginger and the pepper. When I tasted the batter, I thought, "Whoa, this is really spicy!" But once the cake baked and was glazed, the flavors really balanced out.

This cake was Maida's idea of taking an Early American buttermilk cake and updating it to 80s tastes: white pepper and ginger being "hot", as she cleverly puts it. There are indeed lots of recipes with fresh ginger in the book, but to me that's just delicious, not trendy. The white pepper...well, it didn't bother me, but I'm guessing the recipe would also be good with additional ginger and no pepper. If you don't have white pepper and don't feel like buying it, I would suggest that route--black pepper is just going to make the cake look weird.

Here's the recipe. 

White Pepper and Ginger Lemon Cake

1 cup (8 oz.) butter, room temperature
Finely grated rind of 2 (organic) lemons
A 1/2-inch by 1-inch piece of fresh ginger (0.5 oz.), finely grated
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1-2 t. (I used 1-1/2 t.) finely ground white pepper (about 1/2 t. peppercorns--I ground them in a coffee/spice grinder)
1-3/4 c. (12.25 oz.) sugar
3 large eggs
3 c. (12 oz.) sifted flour (I used 1 c. whole-wheat pastry flour)
1 c. (8 oz.) buttermilk--low fat is fine
2 T. (1 oz.) lemon juice

Heat the oven to 325. Butter a Bundt pan and coat it with bread crumbs or wheat germ or ground almonds (I used almonds). Set aside. Beat together the butter, lemon rind, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and white pepper until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat another 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating until well incorporated after each addition. On low speed, gradually add the flour in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and lemon juice in two additions. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes (check after an hour) until a cake tester comes out clean and dry.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze:

1/3 c. (2.7 oz.) lemon juice--you'll need at least 3 lemons
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) sugar

Mix well to dissolve. Let stand. 

When the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Unmold the cake onto a rack over a piece of foil, waxed paper, or parchment. Give the glaze a good stir and then generously brush all of it over the cake. At first it will seem like it's too much glaze, but the cake will soak it up.
Let stand until cool and then serve in thin slices. Maida says this improves as it ages, but sadly it was all gone within two days.

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