Seasonal indulgence: fresh ginger cake


My wonderful wife first made this cake while living in California after discovering the tasty treats former Chez Panisse pastry chef David Lebovitz writes about in his wonderful books.  The ginger flavor is intense, and the cake itself exceptionally moist.

Click the picture below to go to for the full recipe.

CLICK FOR RECIPE – David Lebovitz’s ginger cake, from the book Room for Dessert
photo credit

This pairs well with a lemon curd, especially curd made from Meyer lemons if you can get them.  We had an “improved” Meyer lemon tree in our Oakland back yard – we sure do miss it!

Try David’s “Improved Meyer lemon curd” recipe from his website.

Chinese medicine dietary benefits of this cake

Even though this is a dessert and should be consumed only on occasion (as my clients know I suggest), this cake has a few ingredients that are beneficial from a Chinese dietary therapy standpoint.  Generally, this cake has warming qualities that are excellent for Fall and Winter temperatures (especially here in Minnesota!).

Here are some more specifics on the components of the cake:

Fresh ginger – fresh ginger is a warm herb that:

  • can help with preventing colds, especially in children and the elderly
  • reduces nausea, vomiting, belching due to cold in the Stomach
  • addresses coughs, especially with phlegm
  • reduces the toxicity of other herbs and foods – more useful when eating foods like raw fish sushi, so not really applicable here

Molasses – warm and sweet flavor:

  • tonifies qi
  • strengthens the spleen
  • lubricates the lungs
  • stops cough
  • benefits blood – molasses contains iron, calcium and manganese; good minerals that help to “build Blood” in Chinese medicine

Cinnamon (Vietnamese is very good quality) – a hot herb that:

  • strengthens the stomach
  • warms any coldness in the body
  • induces sweating (cinnamon twig –gui zhi 桂枝)

Clove – is warm and acrid:

  • reduces nausea and vomiting
  • warms the body

Black Pepper– is a warming herb as well that:

  • reduces vomiting
  • stops diarrhea
  • stops abdominal pain

This combination of herbs helps warm the body, especially the Stomach, Spleen and Kidneys.  This can be helpful for issues such as impotence, cold hands/feet, low body temperature, frequent colds, nausea/vomiting, period pain, vaginal discharge and other issues.  This cake is perfect for the coldest of Minnesota’s winter days.

Gluten free ideas

In looking for a way to make this recipe gluten-free, I found these options for flours to substitute in the recipe.  There are a few flours out there that have been getting great reviews for matching consistency and flavor of gluten flours, some of which I’ll list here:

Cooqi cake & pastry flour – costs a little more, but the organic ingredients are a plus!

King Arthur gluten free mix – has good texture qualities and costs a little less

Trader Joe’s gluten free mix – gluten-free cookbook author Nicole Hunn thinks this may be King Arthur gluten-free flour repackaged

I haven’t tried this recipe using gluten free flour yet, but when I do I’ll post back here and let you all know how it turned out!

Please try this recipe and let me know what you think!


Update: here’s a photo of a mini ginger cake my wife made last night in a mini Bundt cake form (yay @NordicWare) for a bake sale today)

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