My neighbor, Neil Wilding, was a fabulous cook. Such an epicure…he once made an Indian dinner for me and my husband that was 12 courses. It took him three days, including driving all over Nashville to find the individual native spices that he ground and mixed by hand to make his garam masala. In the kitchen, as everywhere else, Neil did things right. His individually steeped cup of coffee had to be brewed at the exact temperature for the exact number of minutes, in the exact proportions of water and coffee. Watching him measure out the freshly roasted and freshly ground beans was excruciatingly exquisite.
So it’s kind of funny that my favorite recipe from Neil is so simple. It is the tastiest, spiciest gingerbread cake you will ever eat. I use blackstrap molasses.
Neil’s Ginger Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine and sift:
1.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
half a teaspoon salt
half a teaspoon allspice
half a teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons ground ginger
Combine 1/3 cup Crisco with 1/2 cup boiling water.
Break one egg in an 8-ounce cup and fill with molasses.
Add everything into an 8 x 8 x 2 baking pan; mix well. Bake for about 35 minutes.
I make two batches of this for one pan of cake, because it is so good.
1 tablespoon cornstarch
a half cup sugar
a quarter teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
Mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Add water, heat to boiling, cook until clear and thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Mix the lemon juice and lemon zest with the egg, then fold all that (slowly) into the hot mixture. Stir another minute, adding the butter.
I like to chill the lemon sauce and pour it over the cake freshly out of the oven. The combination of hot and cold, with spicy and soothing, is unbelievable.
The only thing healthy about this cake is the dose of enjoyment you’ll get. Neil would approve.
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