Marvelous Easy Fresh-Ginger Cake

After you’ve baked the luscious carrot cake, I have a fine idea: treat yourself to the comforts of a quick fresh-ginger cake. You whisk it together in a saucepan and pop it into the oven in maybe 20 minutes. Terrific for last-minute planning because it’s delectable hot, warm, or cooled. And versatile: a topping of cold whipped cream is classic–and beautiful. However my much-missed food-and-novel-writing friend, Laurie Colwin, slathered it with chocolate frosting, oh my.

I was thrilled when Food52 included the recipe in their collection of Genius Recipes. Never thought of myself as a genius, but one should never look a gift appellation in the mouth, eh?

Fresh ginger root the size of an egg, unpeeled if skin is tender
1 teaspoon quatre épices* or if you’re rushed, just ground ginger
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter (it can be cold), plus a little for the pan
½  cup water
½ cup firmly packed raw or light brown sugar
¼ cup light molasses
¼ cup dark corn syrup
1 large egg (also may be cold)
1½ cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus a little for the pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar,
whipped cream, or CHOCOLATE FROSTING to finish

Preheat the oven to 350oF. Butter and flour a baking pan with a 6- to 8-cup capacity (8-inch square is simplest). Grate the ginger medium-fine, blend the quatre épices.

In a largish saucepan over medium heat or covered glass mixing bowl in the microwave, melt the butter in the water–don’t let the water boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, molasses, syrup, egg, then ginger (discard any strings the whisk might gather).

Add the flour, baking soda, quatre épices, salt, and whisk a minute or two until smooth. Pour into the pan, rap gently on the counter to knock out any air bubbles.

Bake until the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan and the top is springy to the touch, about 35 minutes. Cool a few minutes, then turn out onto a cake rack until needed. Good warm or cold… but best the day of baking.

Serve with a sifting of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream—or your favorite chocolate icing (this inspired notion from my friend writer Laurie Colwin).

Serves 8. To serve 16, double the ingredients and bake in a 9 x 13 pan, same length of time.

**Traditional French four-spice blend: mix well 1 tablespoon finely ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves…keep remainder in a tightly closed jar in a cool dark dry place up to 6 months.)

First published in Economy Gastronomy…then Food52 Genius Recipes, Ten Speed Press, 2015

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