Grandmother's gingerbread cake

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2D

Serves 12 to 16

Of all the sublime dishes that chef Nancy Oakes prepared during the 1997 workshop, it is her warm gingerbread cake that has entrenched itself at Cakebread Cellars. The San Francisco chef said the basic recipe is her grandmother's, although Oakes sometimes dresses it up with a ginger syrup. Brian Streeter serves it often in the fall, sometimes with a scoop of honey ice cream or just a dollop of softly whipped cream.

As dark as milk chocolate, this fabulous cake is moist, spicy and not overly sweet. Don't worry if it sinks a bit in the center as it cools. Once it is cut, no one will notice.

Recipe from "The Cakebread Cellars American Harvest Cookbook" by Jack and Dolores Cakebread and Brian Streeter with Janet Fletcher.


For the cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup sugar

1 cup dark molasses

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 cup boiling water

For the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch springform baking pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, salt, cloves, ginger and cinnamon.

In a mixing bowl with electric beaters or by hand with a whisk, beat together the sugar, molasses, oil and eggs until well-blended and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until blended, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add the boiling water and beat just until smooth. Don't overmix or the cake will be tough. The batter will be thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes before removing the pan sides.

For the whipped cream: In a mixing bowl with electric beaters or by hand with a whisk, whip together the cream, sugar and vanilla to soft peaks.

To serve, cut the cake into 12 to 16 wedges. Transfer to dessert plates and put a dollop of whipped cream and a few sprinkles of nutmeg on top.

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