We have been so busy lately, I waited until Thursday night to make the cake... and the caramel.... but I did plan ahead and made Vanilla Bean Ice cream to accompany it. Yum! Apparently, July was National Ice Cream Month. Had I know about this sooner, I think I would have tried making some more ice creams. I love ice cream! It is one of my favorite desserts, and making it at home is so easy. I might make August into my own "Christina Loves Ice Cream Month... and it is Her Birthday Month so Why Not Eat a Lot of Ice Cream Month." Looking forward to this idea....
Back to the cake. The recipe made way too much batter for one 9 inch pan as was called for in the recipe. I ended up filling one pan pretty full... then second guessing the rules and adding the rest to a 6 inch pan. Even then, they were both really full and very tall. I was pretty worried it was going to spill over and create a mess for me in the bottom of the oven. Thankfully that didn't happen, and the cake just kept rising taller and taller. I have no clue if the Chow cake is tall like mine, but I can say that I liked it. I used half the amount of fresh ginger that was called for and probably like it better this way. I bought a large seeming chunk of ginger and once it was grated, there was a lot less than expected.
This cake is one of those that gets better with age. I snuck a bite while I was photographing it and it was much better than the first night. Sorry to my guests who had to eat it warm from the oven... oh so terrible! I suggest if you enjoy gingerbread or gingerbread men, or ginger in the slightest you should try this cake. Thanks CHOW for making something so lovely, and allowing the Chronicle to post it for us all.
Chow's Ginger Cake With Caramel Sauce & Whipped Cream
The secrets:Two kinds of ginger: Loads of fresh ginger, backed by the powdered product, gives the cake a fresh spike of flavor. Dark molasses: This adds a rich, earthy element to the blend. Warming before serving: While the cake is good cold, it tastes even better gently reheated in the oven. Caramel sauce: The caramel adds a pleasant dose of sweetness and sets this cake apart. Serves 16
Ginger cakeButter and flour to prepare pan
2 ounces ginger, peeled and finely grated on a Microplane (about 3 tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup rice bran oil or other neutral flavored oil
3/4 cup dark molasses (see Note)
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon baking soda
Caramel sauce1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
Whipped cream1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, + more to garnish
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter TWO 9- by 9-inch cake pans and dust very lightly with flour or line with parchment paper (see Note).
Combine ginger with 1/2 tablespoon water in a mixing bowl; add sugar, oil and molasses. Mix on low speed. Add eggs; continue mixing at low speed until fully incorporated.
Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, white pepper, ground ginger and baking soda in another mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients slowly to the egg mixture, continuing to beat slowly, scraping mixing bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium for 2 minutes. Scrape; decrease speed to low and slowly add 3/4 cup hot tap water. Mix until just combined, occasionally scraping. (The batter will be slightly thin.)
Pour into prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.
For the caramel sauce: In a medium-size stainless steel pot, combine sugar and 1 3/4 cups hot water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add corn syrup and cream of tartar; mix. Wipe down the inside of the pot with a wet towel to remove any sugar crystals. If needed, also brush inside of pot just once with a wet pastry brush. Bring to a boil over high heat without stirring, until mixture becomes a deep caramel color or a candy thermometer reaches 335°.
Remove pot from heat and immediately add cream in a slow stream while stirring (be careful - it will pop and sputter). Whisk in salt and the butter, a little at a time.
The caramel sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated. Carefully reheat in a water bath or in a microwave before using. Makes approximately 2 cups.
For the whipped cream: Vigorously whisk cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar in a cold bowl until the cream reaches soft peaks. You want the cream to be relatively soft so it can slowly run over the sides of the cake. Makes about 2 cups; refrigerate leftovers to use another time.
To finish: (At Chow, the cake is cut into 2-inch squares and reheated 2 1/2 minutes in a 350° oven.) Place the cake square in a shallow bowl, top with caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Note: If you plan to turn the cake out of the pan before cutting, also use the parchment paper, which helps the cake release more easily. Dark molasses (also labeled "full") is more intensely flavored and less sweet than light or mild molasses. Avoid using blackstrap, which is less sweet and has a stronger flavor than dark molasses.