Ginger Cake for a January Evening

January 4, 2015

There’s a January chill in the air and a slow fire in the grate. The Christmas decorations are carefully stowed away at last, leaving the house feeling clean and calm, and blissfully less cluttered. It’s the perfect time for a stolen moment of solitude, the evening paper, and a slice of cake.

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I usually reserve this gingery cottage cake for the month of December, when it’s spicy aroma and festive, sugar-dusted peaks seem especially appropriate. In fact, I baked this one to conclude our New Year’s Eve late-night supper. Wonderful that it is every bit as moist and gently spicy today as it was when we rang in 2015. Today’s slow pace, and my chair near the fire after a chilly afternoon spent walking, makes my sweet holiday relic all the more welcome.

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We set out on our favorite loop just after a late lunch today, heading towards Buena Vista Winery, sneaking in the back gate of Bartholomew Park and down oak-canopied Castle Road.

IMG_3846Instead of turning home, we ambled downtown, just in time to catch the first flicker of the Plaza’s holiday lights. No doubt it was their merry sparkle that put me in the right frame of mind for my Christmas-y cake.

IMG_3646 - Version 2I’ve come up with a few renditions of sweet tea cake that work well in my beloved cottage mold pan from Nordicware. This one, with it’s delicate spice and unexpected shards of crystallized ginger, displaced my almond cake of a few years back as the new and undisputed family favorite.

Ginger Cottage Cake

Ginger Cottage Cake

2 ¾ cups cake flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tesapoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger, plus more for garnish (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1¼ cups whole milk, at room temperature

Confectioners’ (powdered) sugar for dusting over the top

Lightly whipped cream (optional)

Preheat an oven to 325F. Brush the inside of a 10-cup cottage cake mold with melted butter or shortening, then dust with flour. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and crystallized ginger. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk in 2 batches, and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Do not overbeat.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Rap pan gently but firmly on the counter top to bring any air bubbles to the surface. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes with just a few crumbs attached, 50-55 minutes. Let cool upright in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack and let cool completely. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top of the cake. Serve each piece with a dollop of softly whipped cream and a sprinkling of crystallized ginger, if you wish.

Serves 10-12

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I’ve come up with a few renditions of sweet tea cake that work well in my beloved cottage mold pan from Wilton. This one, with it’s delicate spice and unexpected shards of crystallized ginger, displaced my almond cake of a few years back as the new and undisputed family favorite.