Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Triple-Ginger Cake

"Oh shit, I turned into my mother."

My best friend bought me a pin with that saying many years ago. It's one of several items that I keep on a memory board, along with a few old pics of her.

We met in high school when we discovered we were both dating the same guy. At the same time. Naturally, we hated each other at first but then we wised up, realized what a loser he was, and bonded over our mutual loathing for him. So thanks for that, Nathan.

Christi was like the mean, cooler than thou, older sister I never had.

She was sitting in my mom's kitchen, teasing me, when she gave me the pin. We would call one another Sue (both of our mothers are named Sue) in a derogatory manner if we felt the other needed to be taken down a peg. Don't get me wrong. We loved our mothers dearly but there was no higher insult between the two of us. At the time we thought that, surely, becoming just like one's mother was the absolute worst thing that could happen to us in life. 

Except, of course, it wasn't. The worst thing that could have happened to one of us was cancer. Christi was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor that didn't respond to treatment. She was 33 when she passed away in 2006. 

I still miss her all the time.  

But she still makes me laugh all the time, too- most often when I encounter something that reminds me of one of the countless inside jokes that we shared, like the Sue insult.

Christi would have totally made fun of me if she found out I clipped this ginger cake recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. As she should- our moms read BHG. It's right up there with Southern Living on the list of mom-appealing periodicals. 

In my defense, I came by the issue of BHG inadvertently when the publisher swapped it for the remainder of my subscription to the now-defunct Ready Made. Why on earth they figured that BHG would appeal to Ready Made subscribers is beyond me.

While I may sneer at the overly dolled up, gaggingly charming cottages featured in the pages of BHG, I have to admit that the recipes ain't so bad. I've ear-marked a few to try and this one was my first attempt.

So call me Sue but I really liked this BHG cake.

(You can bet Christi is rolling her eyes in heaven.)

Triple-Ginger Cake
adapted from a recipe in Better Homes & Gardens, November 2011

As you might have suspected from the name, this is a very gingery cake. Be forewarned- it's spicy! But then, if you don't really like ginger, you probably didn't read past the title. For those of you who do like ginger, this cake is a real winner. 

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons mild-flavored molasses
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon mild-flavored molasses
5 pieces crystallized ginger, cut into thin strips (buy ginger strips or slices, rather than nuggets)

1. Preheat oven to 350º degrees Fahrenheit with a rack centered in the middle. Butter a 9” cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the paper.
2. In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, fresh ginger, black pepper, and salt and whisk or stir to combine.
3. Add the butter and granulated sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer and fit the mixer with the beater attachment. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer speed to low and beat in the honey and molasses. Next beat in the egg. With the mixer still on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk, and mix until just combined.
4. Pour the batter into the buttered cake pan and use a spatula to smooth and level the batter, if needed. Bake approximately 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool slightly on a wire rack. When cool enough to handle, turn the cake pan over onto the wire rack and remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Turn the cake back over onto another cooling rack and place the rack over a baking sheet or a sheet of waxed paper.
5. Prepare the glaze. Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium sized bowl. Next add the cream, butter, and molasses to a small saucepan, place over medium heat and stir until butter is melted. Pour the cream mixture into the confectioners’ sugar and use a silicon spatula or whisk to stir until smooth. Pour glaze over the still warm cake and work quickly with a spatula to spread it evenly to cover the top of the cake. Let the iced cake stand for at least 4 hours before serving.
6. To serve the cake, cut with a serrated knife, dipped in hot water and wiped dry between slices. Top each slice with two crisscrossed strips of ginger.


  1. One of my oldest friends was just diagnosed with kidney cancer, and I'm still reeling with the news. This whole cancer thing just bloody sucks. On a happier note, your cake looks mighty fine, especially that glaze. wooo-eeee! Have a happy Thanksgiving Shelley - enjoy all of your blessings.

  2. What a great story about you and your friend, Christi. Somehow, I think she would approve of you reading a mom-appealing magazine now and I bet she would have loved this cake! The glaze looks marvelous! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Shelley.

  3. @Renee- I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I hope she gets better with treatment- a lot of people do recover from cancer. Christi just wasn't one of the lucky ones.

    @Elaine- Thanks for the kind words!

  4. you made me cry shelley! what an impressive story! great cake as usual. sorry for your friend and happy thanks giving to you... love from Istanbul.

  5. @Esra- Good to hear from you! Hope all is well your way!

  6. Oh, she sounded like a lot of fun :D. May you always have loads of lovely memories of her.
    My hubs would love this cake, he is a huge fan of ginger.
    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    *kisses* HH
    p.s. I'm doing a little giveaway over at my place, so do stop by and enter!

  7. Ginger makes me feel barfy (which is stupid, because it's supposed to do the opposite!) But even so, this cake looks pretty tasty and even I would give it a taste :P Christi sounds like a super special person. To have a loved one pass is the hardest thing but sometimes I try to think about how it isn't so bad, when a lot of times it feels like they're right here with you still.

  8. What a great memory of your friend. It's only with the best of friends that you share the funniest insults. I do love ginger. I was just thinking about that fact yesterday when I made a very gingery salad dressing. The glaze on this cake and the crystallized ginger look amazing!

  9. Ah, Sue? This cake looks totally ... amazing! And in defense of BHG--which I don't take, have no financial interest in and have only ever seen at dental offices when I was a teenager; those pictures of the ridiculously charming, cute, quaint homes and gardens are awesome. Perhaps too doily friendly sometimes, I'll admit, but nevertheless.

    Your cake looks so good!!!

    And you've a new look--or perhaps I haven't been looking too much lately. Have you changd your thumbnail picture at the top of your about?

  10. I am sure you have great memories of her. It is great that you can remember her with laughter and jokes.

    As for BHG, I try not to look at that magazine but the recipes are good, you are right about that. The reason I try to stay away from it is because it makes my house looks so badly designed and decorated. I figured if I wanna love my house, I should stop getting that magazine.

  11. @Stevie Yeah- I changed my profile pic. The old pic was from 2009 when I started my blog. Seemed like it was high time for a change.

  12. Ha! The Sue insult is deeply hilarious. Christi sounds really fun and very special. Thanks for sharing this!

  13. Very touching story. It is great that you have such wonderful and funny memories of your friend.

    I LOVE ginger so I'm definitely going to have to make this cake.

    Just came across your blog and I adore it. So cute. PS I think I'm becoming my mother as well;)