This cake has an intriguing, albeit unexpected, combination of sweet and hot flavors. That has made it an often-requested alternative to the common lemon pound cake. The cake is similar in concept to a pound cake but is as dense, rich and moist as an English pudding.
Servings: 8 - 10
- Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce piece fresh ginger root (about 1-by-1/2 inch)
- 3 cups flour, plus more for the pan
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground white pepper (preferably freshly ground)
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk (may use low-fat or nonfat)
- Lemon Glaze (see separate recipe)
Adjust the oven rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan. Dust with flour and shake out any excess.
In a small cup combine the rind and juice. Grate (do not mince) the fresh ginger and add it to the lemon juice mixture. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for about 1 minute. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.
Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the lemon and ginger mixture and blend just until combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top by briskly rotating the pan first in one direction, then the other (the batter should be rather heavy).
Bake for 70 to 80 minutes, until a cake tester inserted gently in the middle comes out clean and dry. (If you have used a 12-cup pan, the cake will not rise to the top of the pan, but that is all right.)
Let the cake stand in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Cover with a rack, turn the pan and rack over, remove the pan and place the cake on the rack over a large piece of aluminum foil to catch drippings of the glaze.
Glaze the cake while it is still warm. After the cake is removed from the pan but while it is still warm, stir the glaze to recombine. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the warm cake, allowing some to drip into the hole. The cake will easily absorb all of the glaze. If some of the glaze drips onto the foil, pour the glaze back over the cake. Set aside until cool.
Using 2 wide metal spatulas, or using a flat-sided baking sheet as a spatula, transfer the cake to a serving plate. The cake is even better if it ages for a day or two covered with plastic wrap; the spicy hotness cools a bit as it ages.
From "Maida Heatters's Book of Great American Desserts" (Knopf, 1983).
Tested by Bonnie Benwick.
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