I’ve loved gingerbread ever since I discovered Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking. I love how you can throw it together in a short time, and that you can vary the spices according to your taste. I love how it can be shallow and dense and chewy or light and fluffy. This cake is a cross between gingerbread and chocolate spice cake.
The cake uses three kinds of ginger--freshly grated (I used a microplane, a snap when the ginger is frozen), ground spice, and candied. It also contains Chinese five-spice powder and black pepper. You don’t taste the pepper; there’s just an undertone of heat.
Unlike a lot of cakes, it is even good warm out of the oven. And the flavors develop as it cools. Perfect for when your best friend pops over for coffee.
Test Kitchen Notes
This cake delivered everything it promised; a hybrid of gingerbread and chocolate spice cake. Spice notes were subtle, not "in your face." I especially loved the 5-spice powder. Very sophisticated, mellow flavor, not too sweet, perfect texture. The only change I will make when I make this again (and I will), would be to reduce the salt in the topping; the 1 tsp was a little too much for me, but go by your own taste preferences there. —Tarragon
1 8" square cake
For the Dry Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. Other salts are more salty. Use less.)
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
For the Wet Ingredients:
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (from about a 2 inch long piece)
Heat oven to 350 and generously butter an 8 inch square cake pan. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices and cocoa.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the butter, yogurt, milk, brown sugar, molasses, grated fresh ginger and eggs. Whisk till thoroughly blended. Pour into bowl with flour mixture and gently fold until completely combined. The batter will be thick like brownie batter. Scrape it into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Combine the turbinado sugar, chopped candied ginger, salt, allspice and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the top of the cake. Bake for 40-50 minutes till a tester comes out clean. Eat it warm or at room temperature.