My neighborhood book club recently met for the last time in 2016. This month we read Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl. The author is the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine. The fictional book revolves around Billie Breslin, a young woman who moves from Santa Barbara to New York to take a job at Delicious!, an iconic food magazine. There is love, intrigue, and it is easy to like the characters. The vivid descriptions of food had me wanting to get into the kitchen and to visit all the food shops she described. It was a fun and easy read.
While in Santa Barbara, Billie owned a bakery. Her claim to fame was a gingerbread cake that she developed when she was a young girl. The book included the recipe for this cake so I made it for our book club meeting.
Gingerbread, to me, means cake or cookies with molasses in it. This cake has none. If I had named it, I would have called it a Spice Cake. It doesn't taste like any gingerbread I've ever had! That being said, it is a very nice cake. The spices and orange zest blend so well together. It calls for a lot of fresh ginger but the ginger flavor isn't overpowering. The cake wasn't hard to put together, just a little "fussy" as there were lots of bowls and steps. Grating the ginger seemed to take forever!
The author recommended grinding whole spices and then measuring for the cake. I had whole peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon, but no cardamom. A trip to two stores was a bust so I used pre-ground spices instead of grinding. She states the taste of the cake isn't as good but I can't imagine the small quantities called for would make that much difference. But, grind away, if you want!
My book club girls all enjoyed the cake and took home slices to their hubbies. I took the remainder of the cake to work and it was a nice treat with a morning cup of coffee.
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large pieces fresh ginger root (1/4 cup, tightly packed, when finely grated)
Zest from 2 to 3 oranges (1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated)
1/2 cup bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
5 teaspoons orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour (or use baking spray) a 6-cup Bundt pan.
Whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a small bowl.
In another small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk into the sour cream. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until the mixture is light, fluffy, and almost white. This should take about 3 minutes.
Grate the ginger root (this is a lot of ginger) and the orange zest. Add them to the butter/sugar mixture.
Beat the flour mixture and the egg mixture, alternating between the two, into the butter until each addition is incorporated. The batter should be as luxurious as mousse.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until cake is golden and a wooden skewer comes out clean.
Remove to a rack and cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
While the cake cools in its pan, simmer the bourbon and the sugar in a small pot for about 4 minutes. It should reduce to about 1/3 cup.
While the cake is still in the pan, brush half the bourbon mixture onto its exposed surface (the bottom of the cake) with a pastry brush. Let the syrup soak in for a few minutes, then turn the cake out onto a rack.
Gently brush the remaining mixture all over the cake.
Once the cake is cooled, mix the glaze ingredients. Drizzle randomly over the cake.