Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Glaze – A Not-So-Secret Christmas Tradition

Unlike some families, we don’t have a set-in-stone Christmas dinner menu. It really varies year to year. We’ve tried just about every holiday roast imaginable, and I don’t think we’ve even had the exact same side dishes twice, but when it comes to dessert, that’s a whole other story.

The meal must end with this gingerbread cake and it’s glistening lemon glaze. My wife Michele makes this every year, and uses a recipe she adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook, which despite being very simple, always gets rave reviews.

Of course, she adds a few secret, extra-exotic ingredients (I can’t confirm or deny that one is cardamom), which I didn’t use here, but I’ve always believed married couples should have there own unique gingerbread cake recipes, and mine features a little dash of Chinese five-spice instead.

Was it as good as Michele’s annual Christmas offering? Of course not (see why I’ve stayed happily married for 22 holidays?), but it was very delicious, and I’m sure you’d thoroughly enjoy it. So, if you’re looking for a new addition to your holiday dessert table, I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!

Gingerbread ingredients for one 8 or 9-in square cake:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (8-oz by weight)
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 rounded teaspoons ground ginger (3 if you like it spicier)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water
*Bake at 350ºF or about 35 minutes.
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest


rich from jersey said...

repost from last thread

its almost christmas; too late this year, but id love to see your take on a "7 fishes" type x-mas eve menu. keep it in mind for next year....thanks.

Anonymous said...

What? No cayenne? :-) The cake looks really good!

Bekah said...

Came across your blog a few weeks always make me laugh! I have a list a mile long of your recipes I want to make...of course your Gingerbread Cake has been added to the list!

Unknown said...

Looks good ..did I miss the ingredient amounts for the Lemon Glaze?? Probably could guess. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Looks good. Did I miss the Lemon Glaze ingredient amounts?? Likely one could guess more or less closely.

Joselaren said...

Every thing seems excelent I will try do it and suprise my wife, but what about de glase thing, I didn't see the recipe.

Pantalone said...

Oh give us the secret recipe! :-)

Anonymous said...

Why do you add boiling water opposed to room temperature or cold water?

Chef John said...

The heat helps dissolve all the ingredients and gets the baking soda going, as well as makes for a much easier to work with batter.

Razors Edge said...

can I use chicken in this?

Martha said...

Hello Chef John,
Can the Chinese 5 spice be substituted by something else or omitted?
Thank you!
Happy Holidays from Montreal, Canada!

Chef John said...

Yes, 5spice optional! Put what you like. Any of the classic baking spices are used.

etamar said...

to razer edge,
beef will be the standart choice
but chicken will work just as good :)

averagebetty said...

Yum! This looks so yummy :) You sound a little like you have a cold... hope all is well this holiday season, Chef!

Claire said...

I live in high elevation, 6200. Are there any high altitude alterations?

Chef John said...

Sara, yes, two air flights in one week kicked my butt! But, I think I've got it on the run. Hope you and Lee have a wonderful holiday, and that 2012 is your biggest and brightest year ever! Love and XOX!

Chef John said...

Sorry Claire, I've only cooked at sealevel! Just google it, i'm sure you'll see convertors

asnwords said...

chef john, please, please make some steamed cake?

kinectick said...

Chef Awesomeness, If this doesn't get made for Christmas dinner it will certainly be my day-after dessert. Which is saying something since I can cook my butt off but baking excellence eludes me. (LOL)

I'll let you know what the "judges" think after the fact. The children will be kind but I can count on "The Man" being totally honest. With you on my side I think that I'm in a good position.

Chef John said...

You'll do great!! :-)

LyndaT said...

Chef John... I made this cake today to share at a gathering this afternoon. Naturally I had to sample it first. It's truly delicious! As people will be standing and eating tidbits with their fingers at the function, so I cut it into two-bite slices and arranged on a platter with cocktail napkins on the side. A wonderful sweet treat sans fork that I know will be a huge hit. Thank you for your fabulous instructional videos, recipes, and tips. Your blog has become my keep-it-simple-and-eat-like-a-king go-to site. Happy holidays to you!

Phill from Hertfordshire said...

Thank you for your excellent turkey cooking guidance on youtube. Brilliant. I use it every year and Christmas morning wouldn't be the same without you.

Thanks again, have a marvellous Christmas yourself.

All the best.

Anonymous said...

Made this for a new year's party and it was DELICIOUS and super simple! Thank you again Chef John! You are awesome. Happy new year :D

P.S. LOVE your voice!

Kevin said...

Chef John... could I add alchohol to this recipe?

Yara S said...

This looks great! would love to try it, can I use fresh ginger instead? Thanks Chef John!

MXinPT said...

Hi Chef John,
first of all, I'd like to say that I'm a huge fan (as this is the first time I post on any of your videos here and on youtube).
I've followed and successfully completed many of your recipes and now I basically make them as soon as you post them. THANKS A LOT FOR THE AMAZING WORK AND LESSONS.
I just wanted to ask you if it would be a tragedy to substitute the water for milk. Is that even possible?
Maybe it's stupid, but it just came to my mind.
By the way, I made this today and it's spectacular!

1Bigg_ER said...

can melted butter be used instead of vegetable oil? One will pour boiling water after all.

Chef John said...


1Bigg_ER said...

HOME RUN! RIGHT OUT OF THE BALL PARK!!! I Used melted butter instead of vegetable oil. I think it is better without the glaze.
Thanks again Chef John.

blackpepper112 said...

I had a recipe that i used a month ago... just cant recall.. i wanted to bake one this morning.. I came across your blog.. i think i will be trying your version either this evening or early AM for breakfast...I really enjoyed the twist u put to it which is why i am interested in your blog.

bleec said...

How do you incorporate cardamon into this recipe? pls reply thanks! :D

Chef John said...

Just add with the other spices!

Su Jin Tuck said...

My husband loves this cake, well so do I but sometimes mine sinks in the center at the end of the baking cycle? How can I prevent this so it's more visually presentable?


Su Jin
Woodbridge, VA

Laima Laacis said...

the middle of my cake fell in. what could i be doing wrong?

Tiah said...

Hi Chef John,

I have been following you for awhile now. Thanks for all the amazing recipes you have shared with us. I also love this gingerbread recipe. As you can see I'm making it in the middle of the year. I also have the same problem with the cake dropping in the middle. Do you have any tips for this?

Thanks again!

Arash Yunesi said...

Hi Chef John
Big fan of your cooking videos. Sometimes I just watch them for fun! Can I substitute dark molasses with black date molasses? It is both sweet and a little tangy.