Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ginger Cake with Hard Sauce

We love sushi. Mike spent four years growing up in Japan, so I assumed his love for it came from his time there, but it turns out he didn't eat much sushi overseas. He developed his taste for it over here. My dad introduced me to sushi as a little girl. We would sit at the sushi bar at Little Tokyo, at that time the only sushi place in town, and watch Tom San behind the counter work his magic. Tom San knew that my favorite was smelt roe, so he always had a plate of it waiting for me when we bellied up to the bar. I still love smelt roe: it's like happy balls of sunshine exploding in your mouth.

Mike and I had sushi on our first date, and I was stunned when he didn't eat any of his wasabi. What's sushi without wasabi?!? I can't eat it without a big green glob on top, enough to make my eyes water and my nose run. And I put it in my soy sauce and smush it all around. Love love love wasabi.

But I soon learned that Mike actually likes the ginger. I think that was my first clue that we work so well together: he is Ying and I am Yang, and when we go out for sushi, there is usually an unspoken ceremony between the two of us in which he takes my ginger, and I take his wasabi.

So when I found this recipe, I knew Mike would love it. It's baking in the oven right now, and the house is filled with the aroma of ginger and molasses. It feels like fall around here.

Ginger Cake with Hard Sauce from Williams Sonoma's Bride & Groom Cookbook
The unmistakable taste of fresh ginger shines through in this cake, which is extremely tender and flavorful and stays moist stored at room temperature if well wrapped. If you prefer, try fruit preserves or ice cream with this cake instead of the hard sauce.

1 large knob fresh ginger (enough to make 3 Tablespoons pureed)
1 cup dark molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut or canola oil
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room termperature
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon dark rum or brandy or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Use the edge of a spoon (I found a carrot peeler works better.) to scrape the skin from the ginger.
  3. Slice the ginger across the grain into 1/2 inch pieces.
  4. Pulse the ginger in a blender to puree, or use the finest rasps on a box grater to grate the ginger.
  5. Measure out 3 level Tablespoons and put in a medium mixing bowl.
  6. Add 1 cup cool water, the molasses, sugar, and oil.
  7. Mix vigorously with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is glossy.
  8. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  9. Add the flour mixture to the ginger mixture and mix thoroughly until smooth.
  10. Pour into an ungreased 9 inch round cake pan.
  11. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-35 minutes.
  12. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate.
  13. Serve at room temperature or still slightly warm, with hard sauce on the side.

Hard Sauce
The traditional accompaniment to English plum pudding, hard sauce pairs well with any hearty autumn or winter dessert.
  1. Combine butter, powdered sugar, dark rum, brandy, or vanilla.
  2. Mix well to blend.
  3. If desired, chill before serving.
Looking through the ingredients again, I realize that the cake part contains no eggs, butter, or milk. So I suppose this is my first vegan recipe on the blog!

And now I'm craving sushi.

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