by Cat, October 2007 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
As a person of Scandinavian heritage, I can attest that Scandinavians (as well as people from the Germanic countries) have a love affair with ginger. It is used not only in sweat treats like these holiday cakes, but also in preserved meats.
The flavor of the ground mustard seeds works well with the molasses and ginger in this cake, and also with lemon sauce or lemon curd as a topping. However, if you don’t like the idea of mustard in a cake, I provide an alternate spice & flavoring combination.
For another take on Gingerbread Cake, see Karen Freberg.com: The Best Gingerbread Cake (2).
Gingerbread Cake, with Mustard
This recipe is adapted from the Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown. Many people know of mustard only as the vinegary prepared mustard served with hamburgers and hot dogs. But the powder made from grinding mustard seeds (which is also used to make prepared mustard), has a wonderful pungent flavor that works well with molasses and ginger in this recipe.
I include coconut flour in the mix of flours for this recipe, to increase fiber content. If you do not wish to include it, you must also decrease the liquid. I provide instruction on how to alter the recipe (see the asterisks *).
Adaptation is included for an alternative spice combination.
If you use a 5″ x 9″ x 2.5″ loaf pan, there will be some batter left over; pour it into a buttered mustard cup or mini soufflé pan, then start checking for doneness after 25 minutes.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or whole grain spelt flour (or more, if using spelt)
- ¼ cup coconut flour *
- 1 tsp baking powder (aluminum-free)
- ½ tsp Unrefined sea salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp powdered mustard #
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon #
- 1 tsp powdered ginger #
- ½ tsp ground cloves #
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 ¼ cup hot water *
- 8″ square pan, or two 8″ x 4″ loaf pans, or one 5″ x 9″ loaf pan
- medium and large bowls
- electric mixer (optional)
- rubber spatula
- wire rack (for cooling)
* NOTE: If you don’t wish to use coconut flour, increase the whole wheat pastry flour to 2 ¼ cups for square pan (1 ¾ cups for loaf pan), and decrease hot water to 1 cup for square pan (¾ cup for loaf pan).
Alternate spice/flavor combination
This is inspired by Karen Freberg’s Best Gingerbread Cake (2); first amount is for 8″ x 8″ square pan; amount in parenthesis is for 9″x 5″ loaf pan.
- eliminate the mustard
- increase ginger to 3 tsp (2 ½ tsp)
- increase cinnamon to 1 ½ tsp (1 ¼ tsp)
- keep ½ tsp cloves (scant ½ tsp)
- add ½ tsp cardamom or allspice (scant ½ tsp)
- add ¼ tsp nutmeg or mace (scant ¼ tsp)
- add 1 ½ tsp orange zest (1 ¼ tsp)
- Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in middle of the oven. Generously grease baking pan(s) with butter or coconut oil.
- In flour sifter, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt; sift into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In large bowl, blend baking soda, spices & zest into the butter, using wooden spoon or electric mixer. Gradually add molasses and egg.
- Add flour mixture alternately with hot water, and mix until combined. If you used spelt flour, you may need to add 1 -2 Tbsp additional flour (because it is not as dry as wheat flour; see Spelt vs Wheat in Baked Goods for more)
- Turn batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick (insert into center of cake, and remove. It should come out clean).
- Remove from oven to cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then carefully remove from pan and cool on wire rack to serving temperature (I like to serve this warm).
Assembly or Serving Suggestions
- Top each serving with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle with finely chopped crystallized ginger right before serving.
- Top with warmed applesauce.
- Serve with a warmed lemon sauce or lemon curd.
- Serve with hard sauce.
12/10/13: (Photo, left, by Cat from this testing) Although I’ve made this many times, it’s been at least 8 years, so I made up a half recipe as follows: 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt sifted together; ¼ cup butter (½ stick) blended with ¼ tsp each baking soda and clove, and ½ tsp each mustard, cinnamon, and ginger; beat together ½ egg and ½ cup molasses, then added flour mix alternately with ½ cup hot water. Batter has nice texture & consistency (I did not use coconut flour so adjusted wheat flour and water accordingly). Into buttered steel bread pan (4″ x 8″; filled up halfway); into 350°F oven at 9 PM. Tested with toothpick at 9:33; not done yet, but it rose nicely. It has pulled away from sides of pan, and center is almost done at 9:44. Removed from oven at 9:49. Total baking time 49 minutes.
- Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown
- KarenFreberg.com, The Best Gingerbread Cake recipe: karenfreberg.com/GingerbreadCake.htm