Tuesday 21 November 2017

Fresh ginger and molasses cake

I had a traumatic week last week. Not world-endingly traumatic, just the kind that could be cured by cake. So I made one. During a heatwave in southern California a few months ago, I came across this recipe while flipping through my friend's cookbooks, laying low, sapped of energy by the sun. Molasses is such a fantastic sounding word and conjured up how we all felt at the time, sticky and slow. It wasn't the weather for it then, but now in November, during these days of crisp, cool, sunny Sydney weather, the time was right. The fresh ginger sings in this not-too-sweet, incredibly soft, dramatically dark cake, which goes perfectly with a cup of tea. The original recipe is for a layer cake, vanilla cream slathered between the layers and atop, but I just halved the quantities, made a single layer, dusted it with icing sugar and called it done. Delicious.

Fresh ginger and molasses cake
Adapted from Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat

Samin suggests cream cheese frosting as another option, and that the recipe below also makes good cupcakes. If you decide to serve the cake without any frosting or with just a dusting of icing sugar, as I did, know that the end result is entirely dairy-free. Should you not have any molasses to hand or find it hard to find any, treacle (available in all Australian supermarkets) can be easily substituted.

1 cup (4 oz) peeled, thinly sliced fresh ginger (about 5 oz unpeeled)
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
1 cup neutral tasting oil (I used canola)
1 cup molasses (or treacle)
2 1/3 cups (12 oz) flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp coarse salt or 1 tsp regular
2 tsp baking (bicarb) soda
1 cup boiling water
2 large eggs at room temperature

Vanilla cream, to serve (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Set a rack in the upper third of the oven. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake tins.

Purée fresh ginger and sugar in a food processor til completely smooth. Pour mixture into a bowl and add oil and molasses. Whisk to combine.

In another bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, salt and baking soda and set aside.

Add boiling water to the sugar-oil mixture and whisk to combine.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour into it the oil-water mixture. Gradually whisk in eggs and stir til smooth. The batter will be thin.

Divide batter between two tins. Tap filled tins against the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles, then bake for 38-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool cakes completely on wire rack, then turn them from tins.

To serve, place on layer down on a plate and spread half of the vanilla cream (see recipe below) in its centre before topping with the other layer. Spread remaining vanilla cream on top and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Vanilla cream

Combine one cup heavy/whipping cream with one and a half teaspoons sugar and one teaspoon vanilla extract and whisk til soft peaks form.


  1. Do you have a photo of the layered version? Also, sorry to hear about last week.

    1. I don't, as I only made a single layer. It should look much like this photo of Chocolate Midnight Cake though as it's the same author's recipe and the same general principle - two layers sandwiched with Vanilla Cream: http://alicebakesacake.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/chocolate-midnight-cake.html