Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake...

One item we keep handy in the pantry is crystallized ginger, if for no other reason to snack on for a sweet treat that backs itself with a warm, spicy bite. Nibbled on plain, or dipped in dark chocolate for an especially devilish treat, I also like to have it in the pantry to use in baked goods... like this Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake that we made for this week's Wednesday Treat Day.

To really grind the oils from the zest into this cake, maximizing its potential, I took the extra time to rub the fragrant zest into sugar with my fingertips, before creaming the sugar and butter together. Fussy? Yeah, maybe a little, but when you see how the grains of sugar are moistened and take on a light yellow hue, you know it's worth it. When you add the softened butter in, make sure you give it plenty of time for the mixture to become light and fluffy, rather than just creamy and combined.

With most cakes, the batter benefits from adding the eggs one at a time, rather than just dumping the whole shebang in. Besides being able to work in more air as you beat each one in, the batter stays in smooth and together, rather than curdling into a mess if too much is added at once. While we have lemon infused already, we added some pucker power by mixing in the tangy juice from the zested lemons once the eggs were all worked in.

Sour cream is a wonderful medium to tenderize and moisten a cake, which is why this cake has a full cup added in - though just like those eggs, the sour cream is not added all at once. Rather than just dropping in spoonfuls at a time though, the sour cream is alternately added with the dry ingredients, lightening the batter as the flour is absorbed. This is a ginger cake right? To impart that flavor, we snuck a good amount of minced crystallized ginger in with the dry ingredients - since ginger can be a little sticky, whisking it in with the flour first coated the tacky pieces, keeping them separate so they are evenly distributed.

Before you scoop this into your bundt pan, be sure you are using one that holds twelve cups as there is plenty of batter to go around - if you try and use a smaller one, you risk a messy spillage. Go with your instincts - if you still find that the pan looks like it won't hold all the batter, hold some back if you like and bake it off in a ramekin or a muffin pan for a baker's snack! Once it tests done, it is best to let the cake rest in the pan for at least 10 minutes or so, giving it time to finish setting up and allowing the crust to release from the sides.

Slicing into the cake once it had cooled down revealed to us what we had hoped for - a dense, buttery yellow cake that perfurmed the room with its light, lemon-y fragrance as soon as I guided my serrated knife out. Ginger can be a little staggering at times if it is too heavily used, but we both thought there was just enough that the cake didn't seem void of it, yet you knew it wasn't just a plain 'ol lemon cake either. See those darker bits around the edges? That would be the ginger chunks getting caramelized from being so close to the sides of the pan - almost the best part of the cake! If you wanted a more flashy finish than just a shower of confectioners' sugar, a simple glaze made from fresh lemon juice, confectioners' sugar and a touch of softened butter, slowly drizzled over the top, would definitely be appropriate.


  1. I love snacking on crystallized ginger. This is a great treat of the week. Looks delicious Joe.

  2. Helene - Thank you! I heard from Jeff it went over quite well at the office.

  3. I made this last weekend, for a casual gathering and it was very well recieved. I sliced it and dusted the slices with powdered sugar. The flavor was really good and appealed to those that don't like chocolate as much.

  4. This sounds delicious! Do you think I could make cupcakes/muffins from this batter and just bake it for less time? I'm thinking a lemony cream cheese frosting sprinkled with chopped crystalized ginger...

  5. Jennifer - Fantastic! Glad you tried it.

    Tasha - Probably, just keep an eye on the time!

  6. I made this for Christmas Eve. It was an instant hit. Although the ginger flavor is not pronounced I don't think the cake would be as good without it. The texture was light (for a pound cake).

    We had lemon curd along side of it for those who wanted, but honestly I could eat this cake plain all day long.Yum MEE.

  7. Dmac - I love the idea of serving it with lemon curd! Thanks!