David Lebovitz, a friend and colleague, is the author of several dessert cookbooks, including Room for Dessert. The recipe for his famous fresh ginger cake is included in that book. In the introduction to his recipe he writes, “This is the most often requested recipe in my repertoire, and I’ve passed it on to many, many people.” He mentions that it appears quite often on Bay Area menus, sometimes called Dave’s ginger cake. I asked David via e-mail (Lucky guy, he now lives in Paris.) if I could adapt his recipe for this book and he agreed. It is simply the most delectable, moist, and ginger-packed cake I have ever eaten. Friends who tasted samples of the cake when I was writing this book said, “How soon can I get the recipe?” Here it is. Thanks, David.
Serves 10 to 12
1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting pan
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups sweet unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups canola or peanut oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon baking soda
2/3 cup fresh ginger packed, peeled and minced (see Cook’s Note)
3 large eggs beaten
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup milk
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a non-stick, 12-cup Bundt pan, tapping the pan over the sink to remove excess flour. (Make certain every interior surface is thoroughly coated so the cake doesn’t stick.)
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper. In another large bowl, whisk together the molasses, sugar, and oil.
In a 2 1/2-quart saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Whisk this mixture into the molasses mixture, and then add the fresh ginger.
Adding a generous cupful at a time, stir the flour mixture into the molasses, until the flour is absorbed. Whisk in the beaten eggs. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. If the cake appears to be browning too quickly lay a piece of foil over the top of the pan. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool in the pan for an hour. Place the rack over the top of the pan to invert the cake. Let the cake continue to cool on the rack. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight at room temperature.
To make the crème Anglaise, in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cream and milk. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat. (Do not let the milk mixture boil.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and whisk to combine, and then pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Return the saucepan to low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture is as thick as whipping cream and coats the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes. (The crème Anglaise will be done when it registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.) Remove from the heat and use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the sauce into a clean bowl set over a bowl of ice. Stir in the vanilla and let cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (The sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance.)
To serve, using a small fine-mesh sieve, dust the powdered sugar over the cake. Cut the cake into slices. Spoon two or more tablespoons of crème Anglaise onto each dessert plate. Place a slice of cake in the center and serve immediately.
You’ll need to buy about 5 to 6 ounces of fresh ginger in order to have 2/3 cup of minced ginger. The easiest way to prepare the ginger is to peel it, cut it into small chunks, and mince it in a mini food processor or in a regular-sized food processor using the metal blade. It certainly can be minced by hand; it just takes longer to prepare.