When we got back to New York, our apartment smelled a little stale. What better way to warm it up and celebrate being home again? Seriously, I would bake this one just for the scent. You probably already have the ingredients around, even if you've been out of town awhile. And a slice of spicy gingerbread cake just might make unpacking easier.
This improved overnight in the fridge, so I recommend making it the day before and refrigerating (tightly wrapped in saran + foil) for a day before serving. The ginger mellows and permeates the entire cake with a little rest.
Though it's lovely with whipped cream, you could also serve this for brunch with a dollop of greek yogurt and some sliced pears. It's quite spicy and not too sweet, surprisingly moist and rich tasting. The fresh ginger is easiest to mince if you store it in your freezer.
Spicy Molasses Gingerbread Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz
just under 1/2 cup fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
3/4 cup molasses (I used blackstrap, which is quite strong.)
just under 1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (peanut is recommended, but I used canola)
1 cup water
2 tsp baking soda
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 vanilla bean
2 eggs, beaten lightly
Position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 by 3-inch round cake pan or a 9 1/2 inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper, or butter the inside (I did this, and it didn't stick at all.) Place pan on a cookie sheet to prevent spills.
Peel, slice, and chop the ginger very fine with a knife (or use a grater or food processor). Mix together the molasses, maple syrup, sugar, and oil. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, and black pepper.
Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan, stir in the baking soda, and then mix the hot water into the molasses mixture. Stir in the ginger.
Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the batter. Add the eggs, and continue mixing until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 1 hour, until the top of the cake springs back lightly when pressed or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top of the cake browns too quickly before the cake is done, drape a piece of foil over it and continue baking.
Cool the cake for at least 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Remove sides from the pan to serve.