We had friends to dinner tonight, and I thought it would be nice to make David Lebovitz’s fresh ginger cake and serve it with Nigella Lawson’s Ruby Red Quinces. (Which it was, but I’m going to be bouncing off the walls on a sugar high for the next twelve hours. Whee!) I haven’t done any vegan baking for a while, and Lebovitz’s cake is already dairy-free and only contains two eggs, so I thought it would be a good candidate for veganising (veganisation? veganifying? evegangelising?).
Definitely one of my better ideas, and it’s nice to see the whole ‘swap eggs out for apple sauce’ method working well in practice (I’ve had mixed success with this approach in the past).
Your Shopping List150g of really fresh ginger root (you want the stuff that is still tender and pinkish in colour, not the really dried up kind, because it will be a nightmare to chop) 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup canola oil 1 cup treacle (if you measure this after the canola oil, it won’t stick to your measuring cup) 1/2 cup apple sauce (home made or a bought version that really is mostly apples) 2 1/2 cups plain flour 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp white pepper (yes, pepper) 1/2 tsp ground cloves 1 tsp baking powder 1 cup water 2 tsp bicarb of soda
Now what will you do with it?
Pre-heat the oven to 175°C, and grease and line a 23 cm round cake tin. I recommend springform.
Peel and finely chop the ginger. A food processor makes this much faster, but I hate washing up, so I do this by hand.
Mix the treacle, sugar, oil and apple sauce in a large bowl until well-combined.
In a separate bowl, measure and mix the flour, spices and baking powder (but not the baking soda!).
Bring the water to the boil, add the bicarb and mix briefly to dissolve, then pour the hot water and bicarb mix fizzily into the wet ingredients. Stir in the ginger, then add in the dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour into the tin and cook for about an hour and fifteen minutes (but check after an hour – your oven might be faster than mine). A skewer should come out clean at this point. From the cake, that is, not just randomly roaming the kitchen in a threatening and skewerish fashion.
Let the cake cool for at least ten minutes in the tin before turning onto a rack to cool completely – or let cool for half an hour and then turn directly onto a plate and serve warm with cream or soy cream, and maybe some stewed quinces or other stewed fruit. Though I recommend not using Nigella’s quinces for this particular recipe – there’s only so much sugar a body can take (she says, vibrating lightly).
Eat with delight.
Why mess with perfection?
Right then. I just had a sudden, horrible, sugar-fueled inspiration relating to the strong resemblance between jerusalem artichokes and ginger, but since I don’t believe that the world is truly ready for fresh jerusalem artichoke cake, I’m not going to explore that thought any further…
I do think the apple sauce was a good flavour match in this recipe, though it would be fun to try a spiced apple butter or mashed banana instead. Or maybe even stewed quinces, for a truly autumnal fresh ginger and quince cake.
I’m not sure what the best approach would be for making this cake gluten-free. The good news is that the flavours in this are so strong that you can probably get away with any good commercial gluten-free flour mix. I would definitely recommend using some sort of mix rather than just one flour (like quinoa), however, as the lack of eggs does make the crumb of this cake a little more fragile than normal, so you don’t want a flour substitute that also leads to crumbliness.
To avoid fructose, I’d basically put the eggs back in (2 eggs added at the end, skip the apple sauce and the baking powder), and use just about any gluten-free flour that makes you happy. The eggs give you a bit more leeway in terms of crumbliness, of course.
Oh, also, this cake keeps well for several days and when it starts getting a little dry, you could make it into the most fabulous autumnal trifle with poached pears and quince jelly and calvados and cream, or something along those lines.
But maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to have more Calvados?