I don’t know about you, but Daylight Savings Time has really kicked my butt this year. I’m not usually one to complain, but I this week has hit me like a freight train that started with waking up on Sunday to an hour having been stolen away, and I feel like I haven’t been able to catch up since. The prospect of rich gingerbread cake slathered in lemon butter frosting is easing the pain, if only just a wee bit.
Gingerbread is commonly associated with Christmas, often in the form of dry, overly crunchy gingerbread cookies formed and carved into festive gingerbread houses. I think this particular cake is perfect for springtime, as its spicy ginger flavour is balanced perfectly with its bright lemony icing.
My Grandma, who was born in Northern Ireland, used to make fabulous gingerbread. I didn’t have her recipe handy, but I found a recipe in the Irish section of my Creative International Cookbook, published in 1981 – another of my retro, $1-at-the-used-bookstore finds – which has sections with (1970s/80s versions of) dishes from all over the world.
With St. Patrick’s day approaching, I knew I wanted to try something from the Irish desserts section, and I had it narrowed down to this cake or something called “Tipsy Parson” that’s loaded with sweet sherry, sponge cake and whipped cream, and was “named for its expected effect on the parson at tea time.” I think I’ll have to try that next.
The only change I made to the original recipe was the addition of a spoonful of ground cloves and a pinch of nutmeg because I love the way those spices work with ginger. I also chose to sprinkle the frosted cake with some chopped crystallized ginger to really push it over the top.
This cake was a ray of sunshine in what has already been a really long and exhausting week. Try it today and I’m sure you’ll feel the same.
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup unsulfured molasses
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup milk, warmed
- 3 tablespoons soft butter
- 1 and ½ cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped (for sprinkling on top, optional)
- Combine brown sugar, butter, and molasses in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Cool mixture. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together and flour, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the centre; pour cooled sugar-molasses mixture into well and mix thoroughly. Add egg and milk and continue mixing for 3 minutes.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Gradually add lemon juice until the frosting is a spreadable texture. Spread evenly on top of cooled cake, and sprinkle with chopped crystallized ginger.
- Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Source: Adapted from Creative International Cookbook