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)

Helpful & healthful TCM recipes: NourishU

Here’s a website with many details about traditional Chinese Dietary principles, recipes, and help with cooking techniques.

PLEASE NOTE:  The author sells herbs from the site, but ask us about the higher quality, pesticide and heavy metals tested herbs we can get for you from a source we trust – Spring Wind Herbs, Inc. in Berkeley, CA.

Fall is typically a dry season.  Here is a sample recipe from the website, to address dryness of the lungs. This recipe uses American Ginseng, which is an expensive ingredient and usually highly treated with pesticides.  A good substitute is dang shen 党参, which we currently have in stock along with the red dates – just ask about it!!!  Add your favorite veggies to make a stew or soup about 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time (step #2).

Herbal soup mix to benefit Qi and Blood
Herbal soup mix to benefit Qi and Blood

Another version of this soup that tonifies Qi, nourishes Blood, and is also moistening to the internal organs is a mixture of dang shen-codonopsis  党参, hong zao-red date 红枣, gou qi zi-lycium (chinese wolfberry)枸杞子, dang gui – angelica sinensis 当归, and shan yao-dioscorea 山药.  We have this herbal soup packet available for purchase for $4.95 – get yours today!!!

Caffeine and miscarriage

The relationship between caffeine and miscarriage:

one reason why I suggest that my patients quit drinking coffee altogether has to do with the effects that caffeine has been shown to have on miscarriage rates. If a woman drinks over 200 mg of caffeine daily, more than about 2 cups of coffee, the miscarriage rate was twice that of women who consumed no caffeine at all. It was This was the finding of a study listed in the March 2008 issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  To help give an idea of how much caffeine is in various drinks, foods and drugs, here is a link to a listing of caffeine content in food & drugs compiled by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.