grumpy ginger cake

by jenna on November 12, 2010

This is a humble, grouchy sort of cake.

It’s not very pretty and kind of slouches when it bakes. To be honest, when I pulled it out of the oven yesterday morning, I let out a short sigh. I like to bake and take photographs of pretty things, after all….not grumpy ginger cakes.

Feeling discouraged, I set the cake on the stove to cool and made some lunch (a turkey, apple and brie sandwich, if you must know) because it was 10:55 and all. I busied myself in sandwich making, dishwashing and email writing. Before I knew it, an hour had passed and I had all but forgotten about my little lonely ginger cake.

Well, I thought, I should at least taste it. I dug a fork into the edge and lifted a small sliver to my mouth.

And, guess what? It wasn’t anything like I expected.

The cake was dense and rich, with flecks of fresh ginger and lemon zest. It had a soft texture like gingerbread but had almost a toasty taste to it. I didn’t bother with icing, frosting or a typical lemon sauce. Instead, I just enjoyed it cold and plain.

It’s the kind of cake you reach for mid-afternoon with a small shot of espresso, and the kind of cake you wake up craving early in the morning. In my opinion, it’s best enjoyed while standing in front of an open fridge in sweatpants or pajamas, breaking off one cold forkful after another and chasing it all down with an icy glass of Perrier.


Grumpy Ginger Cake

adapted from Orangette

serves 6

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (2% or full fat)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a nine inch baking pan and set aside.

Whisk together the melted butter, vanilla, egg, yogurt, brown sugar, molasses, lemon zest and ginger. Whisk hard until smooth and creamy.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined (mixture will be pretty thick).

Press into the prepared pan and bake for fifteen minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin November 12, 2010 at 7:38 am

I think that looks delicious! I love ginger everything!


Mary (Sisters Running the Kitchen) November 12, 2010 at 7:39 am

this sounds like a great cake. I love dense cakes, and I love the taste of ginger.


Jessica @ How Sweet It Is November 12, 2010 at 7:40 am

I am just getting into ginger flavor; my husband has always loved it. I don’t mind if it’s grouchy, I’ll eat it anyway!


Camille November 12, 2010 at 7:47 am

It doesn’t look bad at all!
Besides, sometimes it’s the least pretty foods that taste the best πŸ™‚


Cathy B. @ Bright Bakes November 12, 2010 at 7:56 am

i love gingerbread….with lemon sauce! I’m assuming this would still be great that way, too? πŸ™‚
cathy b.


eml November 12, 2010 at 8:04 am

Well, that sounds like my kind of cake then. With a double shot of …something πŸ˜‰


Lizzie November 12, 2010 at 8:07 am

This seems like a definite ‘pick me up’ cake – plus ginger is SO good for you . . might as well enjoy eating, right? πŸ™‚

As an add on to some your recent posts about kitchen debacles . .. I decided to make my husband a cake for his birthday (Ok, well he heard my mum was making my brother one, so he was interested :)). First attempt was a bit of a fail (the icing was all sorts of runny and the cake – well, it was more unrisen bread than cake). Fast forward to day of birthday. Decide at 5pm before we go out to dinner that I’m going to try again. Whip up much better looking cake (now I have recipe from mum), icing – perfect consistency! Cake comes out of the oven 10 minutes before we have to leave . . . then while (gently) coaxing it from the pan to the wire rack to cool, whole thing suddenly falls off bench and onto floor. Cue meltdown. Get past drama, make it to dinner, come home, Skype with parents and eat chunks of floor cake spread with icing (don’t worry – I managed to keep it in the 15 second rule :)).

Figured you would appreciate that πŸ™‚


eml November 12, 2010 at 11:38 am

Oh good Lord – that happened to me kind of with a pizza once. My walk-in kitchen is barely enough room to turn around. One time I had a stool in there across from the stove, so the oven door could open about half-way. Geniously, I went to take a pizza out and was too bothered to just move the darn stool (which would have take like a second?) – and tried to slide out the hot pan at a 45 degree angle….

Well, y’know the rest…still ate it! Just had some major cheese scraping to do from the bottom of the oven…


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat November 12, 2010 at 8:14 am

Isn’t it funny how sometimes ugly looking food turns out to taste the best? (And for the record, I don’t think the cake looks bad at all!) I just did a post about my attempt at tofu-styling on top of my veggie stir fry(… it looked ridiculous but tasted really good!


Debbie B. November 12, 2010 at 8:16 am

Looks fabulous!! Btw … the pics are still gorgeous :). Sometimes the deceptive dishes are the best!


Heather (Heather's Dish) November 12, 2010 at 8:17 am

you had me at ginger…perfect season for it! and i maintain that the ugliest creations usually taste the best πŸ™‚


Alina @ Duty Free Foodie November 12, 2010 at 8:17 am

I always enjoy recipes that contain real ginger. Also, there are so many things that taste way better than they look!


jenna November 12, 2010 at 8:22 am

i’m just begining to like ginger. I used to hate anythign ginger but my tastebuds are growing up. this cake loooks really yummy…


Michele @ Healthy Cultivations November 12, 2010 at 8:27 am

I love ginger cake. Just a little spice makes everything nice.


Shenan November 12, 2010 at 8:27 am

I love that all molasses seems to have branding teeming with overt Southern iconography- I see you have “Brer Rabbit” brand molasses, while I’ve got a bottle “Plantation” brand in my kitchen right now. That or they all have a picture of a cute, warm-looking grandmotherly figure on them, like “Grandma’s” or “Mother Hubbard.” As if people from other regions and demographics never consumed molasses πŸ™‚


Laura @ Backstage Pass November 12, 2010 at 8:31 am

This cake sounds delish! I am a person who appreciates a little something sweet with my afternoon coffee, and this would fit the bill perfectly. Bonus: my boyfriend’s Mom love Ginger. Wonder if baking this cake could win me some brownie points? πŸ˜‰


hippierunner November 12, 2010 at 8:36 am

That looks perfect! Jenna, I bought that molasses from Target recently and it was really easy to open. Do you remember if there was supposed to be like paper cover under cap or if it’s easy/hard to open? It also had a funky smell. My first time w molasses so I don’t know what to expect. Please and thank you for any help!


Steph@stephsbitebybite November 12, 2010 at 8:36 am

Ginger is a must when the weather starts to cool down! This cake looks so yumy, and I think I could really enjoy putting it in a bowl and pouring some coffee over it πŸ™‚


Estela @ Weekly Bite November 12, 2010 at 8:39 am

I prefer my dessert grouchy…. they taste better πŸ˜‰


megan @ whatmegansmaking November 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

Sounds delicious! Sometimes you don’t want something fancy and over the top. Sometimes you just need a cake like this. While standing in front of the refrigerator πŸ™‚


Moni'sMeals November 12, 2010 at 8:46 am

sounds great. Ginger is so good for you too. Plus, I like when things aren’t perfect, crumbs are fun to eat up, right, it gives you permission to clean the plate, hehe. πŸ˜‰


Natalia - a side of simple November 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

This sounds so good! I think it’s the perfect cure for those grumpy days… I mean… it DOES have ginger, right?


Christie {Honoring Health} November 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

yum, my husband and I both love ginger. I need to figure out how to make this in a gluten free rendition.


Laughter-Loving Stacy November 12, 2010 at 9:08 am

Lol, “grumpy” cake. It seems delightful! I’m totally craving it now. πŸ˜€


Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] November 12, 2010 at 9:26 am

I am loving ginger right now! Just made pumpkin/apple/ginger jam. Thanks Jenna!


Tab - Just Weighing In November 12, 2010 at 9:30 am

I love ginger almost as much as I love pumpkin so I’d be totally willing to try this!


Jessica @ The Process of Healing November 12, 2010 at 9:34 am

Sounds great! Sometimes the ugliest things are the best tasting!


Angharad November 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

I made fresh ginger cookies earlier this year and they too were unexpected in this way – dense and almost cake-y but with a decisive and yummy crunch. The flecks of fresh ginger throughout are what pushed me over the edge. This cake is perfect!


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey November 12, 2010 at 10:05 am

Don’t judge a book by its cover I suppose!


Krystina (Basil & Wine) November 12, 2010 at 10:18 am

I love the way you describe it. Molasses cake, personified.


Faith @ lovelyascharged November 12, 2010 at 10:19 am

Sounds perfect for this slightly grumpy (i.e. sleep deprived and overworked) slightly ginger (strawberry blonde!)


Mary @ Bites and Bliss November 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

The kind of cake best enjoyed while standing in front of the fridge..I know exactly what you mean πŸ™‚


Anon November 12, 2010 at 10:37 am

Sounds good. And your lunchtime sandwich also sounds good. I just had a 2-egg, hummus and avocado sandwich on brown rice bread. Yum.


Food & Other Things November 12, 2010 at 10:39 am

Looks delicious even if it is grumpy lol…I love ginger!


Dee November 12, 2010 at 11:02 am

ooh, you’re description of this makes me want to have some! πŸ™‚


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) November 12, 2010 at 11:15 am

It looks and sounds awesome!

And anything with ginger, molasses, and THAT TJ’s bourbon rum vanilla that I so adore…well, it’s just gotta be good. No grumpiness involved there!!!



Karen November 12, 2010 at 11:47 am

This sounds wonderful, non grumpy (non-fancy? plain looking?) at all, Jenna! The flavor profile sounds like a winner! I am excited to bake up a batch!


Cyndie November 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Haha, grumpy ginger cake…

sounds like my kind of cake.

I wish I could bake more often, but it tends to get expensive. Do you bake based on the ingredients you already have on hand? or do you not consider that when choosing a recipe?


Louise November 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Mmm, that sounds delicious (and to be fair doesn’t look too shabby either). Do you think it would be suitable for freezing?


jenna November 12, 2010 at 1:37 pm

yep but it won’t be as good as it first or second day baked!


Louise November 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Thanks. Oh well, a little for me, a little for the freezer πŸ˜‰


stacey-healthylife November 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm

It looks and sounds good.


kath November 12, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Love the sandwich shout out! Lol.


jenna November 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm

hah! it was for you!


Kati @ Living Well November 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

That sounds delectable. πŸ™‚


OC2Seattle November 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Sometimes the worst tasting food is the most photogenic – it’s like dresses that look horrible on the rack and rockin on. If you’re ever in Seattle you must try Orangette and her hubbie’s restaurant Delancy. Hope you have a great weekend.


katie November 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm

all that matters is how it tastes!


the salty girl November 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm

i think that would pair up nicely with a ginger hot toddy! it’s freezing here!


Lacey @ Lake Life November 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Your post just made me feel bad for the cake- like I wanted to send it a “cheer up” card or something…

THAT, IMO, is the sign of a great writer πŸ™‚


Bridget November 12, 2010 at 8:02 pm

That looks amazing! I want to try making it for my schools for the holidays! Unfortunately, molasses is hard to come by quickly in Japan. Any ideas for a substitute?


Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) November 13, 2010 at 5:00 am

I love a good, spicy cake. This looks fabulous! πŸ˜€

And I’m glad that you didn’t adorn it with a fancy glaze or anything. I think this cake is probably best kept simple, from the way you described it. Can’t wait to try it! πŸ˜€


Amanda November 13, 2010 at 7:13 am

me and the boyfriend chowed on this cake for dessert last night, yum.


Amanda November 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm

This sounds so good πŸ™‚


A Teenage Gourmet (Sami) November 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I adore ginger! Making this.


Katie (The Boston Marathoner) November 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm

This sounds delicious! I love having a more mild, and not so sweet bread with my tea – I also love the lemon & ginger combo.


Amy November 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Ah hahaha! Grumpy is a genius description! It sounds fabulous and I know it would turn my frown upside down!


Caroline (NaturallyCare) November 13, 2010 at 7:40 pm

looks amazingly yummy! I’m always so impressed by your photography skills!


Jen November 14, 2010 at 6:37 am

Jenna! Quick question:

I see that you love your Silpat. I don’t bake but roast veggies in oil all the time- would it be good for that?

Thanks so much.

Reply November 14, 2010 at 7:09 am

haha grouch cake!! <3
It almost looks like a gingerbread brownie sort of creation!!


Kasey November 14, 2010 at 7:31 am

I love ginger!!! This is going on my “recipes to make” list.


Katya November 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Jenna, when I click on your homepage, it seems to go to this page only, despite later posts. just wanted to let you know. btw, this cake looks gorgeous, and despite it’s flaws I am sure was delicious!


maya @ finding balance in tokyo November 14, 2010 at 9:21 pm

That looks amazing! I’ve been really craving ginger lately, too.. so it’s very well timed!


Lizzy November 14, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Ginger is something I don’t like to eat raw and was looking out for something that can help ease my craving for it…Perfect


Heidi - Apples Under My Bed November 14, 2010 at 11:08 pm

I would be SO happy to have this grumpy ginger cake in my belly πŸ™‚ Beautiful.
Heidi xo


Alicia November 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Oh this cake looks so wonderful! Perfectly homey — just the thing for this time of year.


Stephanie January 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm

This was really delicious- thanks! πŸ™‚


Tara January 9, 2011 at 5:53 pm

This was fabulous! I didn’t have any lemon, so I added some cinnamon and allspice for flavor. The good thing is that it gives me a reason to make this again, but the way it was intended to be.


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