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Ginger Butter Cake

As its name suggests, this cake combines lots of ginger with butter to make a hearty, flavorful dessert. If you want a less bold flavor, omit the freshly grated ginger from the batter. Juxtapose the richness of this cake with fresh tropical fruits, such as chilled slices of mango, papaya and kiwifruit, or with warm poached pears. Unlike most cakes, the flavor of this cake improves after several days.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced
  • 1/3 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

Directions:

In a small bowl, soak the crystallized ginger in the Grand Marnier for 10 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper cut to fit. Butter the paper and dust the bottom and sides of the pan with flour.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and ground ginger onto a sheet of parchment paper or onto a plate. Set aside.

To make the batter by hand, in a large, deep bowl, combine the butter, the 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar and the corn syrup. Using a sturdy wire whisk, beat vigorously until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the orange zest, grated ginger and almond extract.

To make the batter with an electric mixer, in a large bowl, combine the butter, the 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar and the corn syrup. Using a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater or a handheld mixer, beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the orange zest, grated ginger and almond extract. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in one-third of the flour mixture until almost fully incorporated. Fold in half of the milk, then fold in another one-third of the flour, followed by the remaining milk. Add the remaining flour and the liqueur-soaked crystallized ginger. Using a light lifting motion and turning the bowl continuously, fold in until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not fold too vigorously or the cake will be tough.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Watch the time closely at the end so the cake does not overbake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake and invert them together. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment. Turn the cake domed side up and let cool completely on the rack. Cover the cake with a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel so the outside does not dry out as it cools.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, liberally dust the top of the cooled cake with confectioners’ sugar, then transfer it to a serving plate. Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf cake.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Baking, by Cathy Burgett & Elinor Klivans (Oxmoor House, 2003).