The Gingeriest Gingerbread

December 20, 2018
8 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

The Last Course by Claudia Fleming—the award-winning pastry chef who worked at Gramercy Tavern for nearly a decade—was first published in 2001. Since then, it turned into, as The New York Times' Julia Moskin puts it, "a cult classic among pastry chefs." As she wrote in a recent feature: "The original edition has become a precious rarity; copies that occasionally pop up on eBay sell for as much as $200." It was only a matter of time before the cookbook was rereleased—and so it was last month.

I first heard about The Last Course when I was working as a professional baker at Scratch Baking in North Carolina. How every recipe was liquid gold but, more specifically, how Fleming's "Guinness Stour Ginger Cake" was the gingerbread to end all gingerbreads. The recipe we made every winter was inspired by hers, with a crumb so moist and tender, it was practically steamed pudding.

Fleming's recipe, which became a seasonal classic at Gramercy Tavern, was actually inspired by another eatery—the since-closed Bright Food Shop in Chelsea from Dona Abramson and Stuart Tarabout. "I've made a few adaptations and embellished a bit," she writes in the headnote.

In this recipe, I do the same. When I set out testing, there was one big question I wanted to answer: Just how gingery can gingerbread get?

So I swapped out the stout beer for ginger beer—just make sure you find one that is sharp and strong, like Reed's (ginger ale is too sweet and mild). Then I doubled (yep, doubled) both the ground and grated fresh ginger. The result? I loved it even more.

In addition to those adjustments, I made a few other small tweaks. I added salt (which the original doesn't include), freshly ground black pepper (for even more heat), and lime zest (to balance all the molasses and sugar).

I like sprinkling this with confectioners’ sugar and dolloping barely-sweetened, ginger-spiced sour cream on top—but it’s just as great sliced plain and served with coffee, as a cozy breakfast or afternoon snack. —Emma Laperruque

Watch This Recipe
The Gingeriest Gingerbread
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Makes 1 cake
  • Gingerbread Bundt
  • 1 cup strong ginger beer (such as Reed’s)
  • 1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Microplaned (or finely grated) peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 lime, zest of
  • Sour cream topping
  • 1 pound sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
In This Recipe
  1. Combine the ginger beer and molasses in a large saucepan (about twice as large as seems necessary). Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the baking soda. It will fizz and fuzz—this is why we’re using the large saucepan! Let cool—stirring to release steam every so often—while you prepare the rest of the cake batter.
  2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Place on a rimmed sheet pan.
  3. Combine the flour, ginger, salt, black pepper, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Combine the sugars, oil, eggs, ginger, and lime zest in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add a small splash of the ginger beer–molasses mixture. Whisk. Add another small splash. Whisk. Repeat this until you’ve added about half. (This tempers the eggs, so they don’t scramble.) Add the rest and whisk.
  5. Add half the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the liquid mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared Bundt pan.
  6. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a long, thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in the pan until you can touch the pan without burning yourself. Turn out the cake onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Meanwhile, make the sour cream topping: Mix all the ingredients together and keep in the fridge until serving.
  9. Just before serving the Bundt cake, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice and serve with dollops of gingery sour cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Doug Oldiges
    Doug Oldiges
  • SophieL
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • Katie Wall
    Katie Wall
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.