Ginger Raspberry Cake

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Do you ever misread directions and make a fantastic discovery?

I have made this cake before and it was always good, but never terrific. Never as good as I wanted it to be. I had the idea of incorporating some ginger into the mix as raspberry, lemon and ginger is an excellent combination that I definitely needed more of in my life. I woke up one morning and decided to just try it. (I have been told that this is not normal behavior. Waking up and randomly baking a cake first thing in the morning just because you want cake. Sometimes other people make no sense to me.) I got the ingredients from the original recipe out and decided to make two small adjustments. I added a little ground ginger to the dry ingredients and then swapped out the 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar that got scattered on the top for 1 tablespoon of crystallized ginger and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. (I also added a little kosher salt on top because I always want a little salty in my sweet. That is just how I roll.)

I was a little worried about my raspberries. I had a cup from the farmer’s market, but about half of them had gotten all smushed up. Wouldn’t the cake be prettier if they were whole? The answer there is no, not prettier, the combination of whole raspberries and some swirls of mashed up berries is actually both tasty and beautiful in the finished product. Oh, I also found a way to slightly up the lemon factor. The recipe calls for some lemon zest to be added to the wet ingredients. I took the lemon half that I zested and squeezed it over the berries and tossed them with it just before scattering.

But back to my giant mistake!

As I may have mentioned, it was morning. I was just drinking my first coffee of the day as I made this cake. And I accidentally put an ENTIRE stick of butter in instead of a half stick of butter. Baking is a delicate art. A slight variation on the proportions can ruin the whole thing. The cake looked good enough, but surely it would be too…ummm, nope. It would not be too anything. It would actually be completely delicious. Which means that you can make this cake with anywhere from a half to a whole stick of butter and it will work, it will just land at a different spot on the decadence scale. So, use your own judgment, but man oh man, I am sticking with these proportions. Swooning with every bite.

I am also happy to report that the addition of the ginger is lovely. The swapping out of the topping sugar for crystallized ginger keeps it from being cloyingly sweet and the fact that it is scattered on top means it is not in every single bite, so it comes and goes, there and gone and back again, which is very pleasant. Also, I think squeezing the lemon juice over the raspberries before scattering them gives them a nice little punch. Oh my, this is such a good cake. Such an easy cake. Excuse me. I have to invite some friends over before I eat this whole cake.

Ginger Raspberry Cake
(adapted from Raspberry Buttermilk Cake by Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 stick to 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (at your discretion)
2/3 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1/2 a lemon)
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground ginger and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and zest. Add egg and beat into well incorporated.

On low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined. Spread batter evenly into cake pan.

Squeeze lemon juice (use the lemon half that you zested) over raspberries and then scatter raspberries evenly over top. Sprinkle with crystallized ginger, remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar, and kosher salt.

Bake until cake is golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate and serve warm. Will keep at room temperature for several days, or longer in the fridge.

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