Bake

Gingery Spice Cake

August 10, 2021
5 Stars
Photo by MJ Kroeger Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 55 minutes
  • makes 1 (9x9-inch) cake
Author Notes

This easy cake can be made two ways—and both are terribly delicious. The cake is amazing all on its own: fold the crystallized ginger in, or sprinkle it over the surface of the batter in the pan, where it will bake into a beautifully dimpled cake studded with ginger chunks. Or add the optional streusel for a more coffee-cake-like experience for just a teensy bit of extra effort. It’s excellent with just about any hot beverage of your choice. Finish with powdered sugar, or leave it plain—this is one of those cakes that’s reliably delicious, any way you slice it. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

Test Kitchen Notes

Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and pointing out all the mistakes to avoid along the way. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Gingery Spice Cake
Ingredients
  • Cake
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (106 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large (113 grams) eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (282 grams) buttermilk, room temperature, divided
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon (<1 grams) freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup (60 grams) finely chopped crystallized ginger (see headnote)
  • Streusel (Optional) and Assembly
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 packed cup (70 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) old-fashioned oats
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup (45 grams) finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Cake
  2. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven; heat to 350°F. Grease a 9x9-inch pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  4. Whisk in half of the buttermilk. Add the flour, oats, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg and fold with a silicone spatula until the batter is smooth and evenly combined. Add the remaining ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk and mix to combine. If desired, fold in the crystallized ginger (or reserve it to sprinkle over the batter).
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer (if you reserved the ginger, sprinkle it on top).
  1. Streusel (Optional) and Assembly
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, oats, and salt to combine. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or your hands to cut the butter into the flour mixture until moist crumbs form. Stir in the crystallized ginger. Sprinkle the streusel in an even layer over the surface of the cake.
  3. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
  4. Let the cake cool in the pan before slicing and serving. Dust with powdered sugar, if using.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • chowter
    chowter
  • ThriftyGiblet
    ThriftyGiblet
  • Alex
    Alex
  • Steph G
    Steph G
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, came out on November 10th, 2020, and my pie merch collaboration with Food52 is out now too: https://food52.com/shop/merchants/manifest-food52/food52-x-erin-mcdowell

5 Reviews

ThriftyGiblet October 26, 2021
Made a half recipe in an 8" square pan and baked for 45 minutes (checked it at 40). Added crystallized ginger to the streusel but not the cake itself. The flavor is really zippy with an excellent balance of spices.
 
chowter October 22, 2021
Wow, this is yummy! I was going to give it a generous dusting of powdered sugar, but then decided to drizzle with some caramel sauce. Next piece, maybe I'll do BOTH ;)
 
Alex October 5, 2021
Would coconut oil work as a good substitute?
 
Steph G. October 4, 2021
This was simultaneously delicate and robust: the crumb of the cake was moist and light (I did sub veg oil for butter because of diet stuff) but the spices were rich and perfect! I opted for the streusel and highly recommend it - it's a nice textural difference and only takes a couple minutes to slap together. A perfect fall spice cake!
 
Dorothy K. October 4, 2021
Thanks so much for the suggestion to sub in vegetable oil! I was slack-jawed at the thought of using 2 and 3/4 sticks of butter for a 9” square cake. I figure I’ll use butter for the streusel topping, though.