This cake uses an interesting technique of pouring hot liquid over the batter before it goes into the oven. Odd as it is, the liquid turns into a lovely pudding-like layer on the bottom once it's baked. It is best served directly from the pan to preserve this layer.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.
Make Ahead: This cake is best served warm. If you do have leftovers, reheat them on LOW in the microwave.
Yield: Makes one 8-inch cake
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 1/2 cup molasses (do not use extra-strong or blackstrap)
- 1 1/4 cups boiling water
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons melted
- 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pepper in a small bowl; mix well, then add the chopped crystallized ginger and stir to coat.
Whisk together the molasses and 1/2 cup boiling water in a separate bowl.
Combine the butter and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or an electric hand-held mixer. Beat on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes until fluffy, then add the egg and beat until incorporated. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed; beat the mixture until uniformly combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture; stir with a flexible spatula just to combine, then add the molasses mixture. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until all the ingredients are just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the brown sugar evenly over the top.
Whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup of the just-boiled water and the 2 tablespoons of melted butter in a separate bowl. Pour the water-butter mixture over the brown sugar and batter in the pan, but do not stir. This liquid layer on top of the batter will look strange and wrong, but it's okay. Carefully place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is cracked on top, set and spongy when lightly touched.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving straight from the pan.
Adapted from "You Made That Dessert?," by Beth Lipton (Globe Pequot Press, 2009).
Tested by Leigh Lambert.
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