Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Generously Ginger (Fresh Ginger Cake with Roasted Pears)

Ginger Root

Ginger is pretty amazing the way I see it. Since childhood, I've enjoyed it as one of the essential flavorings in Chinese cooking. More recently in college came the discovery that its candied form makes killer scones. But most impressive are its many medicinal uses. According to Gourmet Sleuth, it's a great natural remedy for "nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness and general stomach upset due to its carminative effect that helps break up and expel intestinal gas." Tea brewed from ginger has even been used to decrease nausea in people undergoing chemotherapy since it's unlikely to react with other medicine.

So I hope you love (or have just been persuaded to love) ginger as much as me. Cause this here is some Serious Ginger Cake. We're not talking about a measly spoon of ground ginger powder absentmindedly tossed into the batter. In fact, we don't even mess with that stuff. This recipe calls instead for no small amount of the freshest ginger root you can procure. Finely minced, it bestows the gift of its warm spiciness on every moist morsel of this cake.


The cake recipe used here comes straight from the fabulous blogger and cookbook author, David Leibovitz, who's generous to share what he says is his most-requested recipe. But Melissa of The Traveler's Lunchbox deserves a share of credit, too, for her spot-on pairing of juicy sweet roasted pears and tangy sour cream. It's worth the effort to make these as they elevate an already delicious cake to a multi-faceted dessert experience. I look forward to cozying up to a slice of this fragrant cake plus something hot to sip on in the cooler days ahead. Won't you please come join me?

Dave's Ginger Cake with Pears

David's Fresh Ginger Cake with Caramel-Roasted Pears [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from David Leibovitz via The Traveler's Lunchbox
Serves 8

XIAOLU'S NOTES: After completely failing with a box grater, I finely chopped my ginger by hand. When looking closely, I was able to see (but not taste) small ginger fibers in the baked cake. If you mind the sight even of fibers, I recommend using the freshest ginger you can find and chopping it in the food processor.

4 ounces (120g) fresh ginger, peeled
1 cup (250ml) mild molasses
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups (350g) flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup (250ml) water
2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, cubed or slivered (optional)
Roasted Pears (Recipe below)
Lightly-sweetened whipped cream mixed with equal parts plain yogurt, to serve

Position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Line a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan (or a 9 x 3-inch cake pan) with a circle of parchment paper.

Slice and chop the ginger very finely with a knife (or process in a food processor until very finely chopped). In a large bowl mix together with the molasses, sugar, oil and ginger. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper.

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, stir in the baking soda, and then stir the hot water into the molasses mixture. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the batter. Add the eggs, and continue mixing until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Top with crystallized ginger, if using.

Bake for about 1 hour, until the top of the cake springs back lightly when pressed or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top of the cake browns too quickly before the cake is done, drape a piece of foil over it and continue baking. Cool the cake for at least 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and peel off the parchment paper.

If you're making the pears, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C.

Roasted Pears
6-8 medium ripe yet firm pears, peeled, halved and cored (a melon baller works well)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar, brown or white
1/2 cup (160ml) water
3 Tbsp (50g) butter OR trans-fat-free margarine
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthwise OR 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
generous pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. Nestle the pear halves in a baking dish just big enough to fit them in a single layer. Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to distribute. Pour this mixture over the pears and roast in the oven, basting them with the liquid every 10 minutes or so, for about 25-30 minutes, or until the liquid is bubbling very thickly and the pears are tender when pierced with a knife. (Don't forget to remove the vanilla bean, rinse it lightly and add it to your extract jar or vanilla sugar jar, if you make these) Let cool slightly before serving.


  1. beautiful pears and cake!! ginger is especially good for women, to keep us warm and avoid gaining extra weight!

  2. Beautiful photography! I absolutely love your composition :)

  3. Beautiful photographs, beautiful and delicious cake.

  4. Oh, your pictures are gorgeous. Just looking at them makes me want to run out for some ginger and pears and get into the kitchen.

  5. What a gorgeous dessert! That seasonal combination is perfect. So refined and delicious!



  6. Ginger is one of those things that I just can't get enough of. I love how cozy this recipe sounds. Makes me want to curl up next to someone I love and eat it.

  7. The two flavors go so well together! Definitely an autumn favorite of mine! Your pictures make the finest still life art look bleak.

  8. Wow, what a lovely and exotic combination of flavors...ginger and pear...very elegant the way you presented :-)

  9. Oh my! What gorgeous shots n I've just fallen in love with that copper/bronze(?)pan with pears. Now I am looking for them during my next flea market trip :-)
    How'd use light in the top photograph? I wanna copy it :-)

  10. I am a big fan of ginger.. it makes food tastes good!

  11. Oh my. Gorgeous photos! I love ginger too. You don't have to convince me. Ginger cake is the bomb. It also saved me during early pregnancy! xo

  12. Yes please! I would love to come join you :) this cake looks simply divine! And from David Leibovitz's blog and The Traveler's Lunch Box - you cant go wrong. I cannot wait to make this baby. Thanks!
    Heidi xo

  13. wow!! Ginger cake! I need to make it! Thanks for this huge inspiration....

  14. I love the flavor of ginger and it was only recently that I learned of its medicinal uses for stomach upset. It's been a great help to me, and I've made many ginger brews for an upset tummy. Thanks for more great info!

    Your cake looks fantastic, full of delicious fall flavors!

  15. Bravo - absolutely stunning, I can almost smell it

  16. Xiaolu, I LOVE the rich, deep colors in these photos! Stunning! (and who doesn't love a good David Lebovitz recipe?)

  17. I am so into ginger right now, after many years of kind of avoiding it (I have no idea why; maybe because I really disliked it as a kid so I've just gotten into the habit of steering clear of it). So I'm fond of ginger and I'm also fond of pears, therefore this is a seriously appealing recipe right now. Only the fact that I'm all baked out for the day is stopping me from running to the kitchen and trying this out...

  18. I would LOVE to pull up a chair to your table. This is beautiful in every way from the fresh ginger to sweet roasted pears!

  19. Amazing photos and mouth-watering cake. I can't wait to try it. Great timing, I've been experimenting with ginger lately. Have you tried crystallized ginger? Yum.

  20. I LOVE ginger. This cake looks so delish. Can't wait to try!

  21. Yue - Thanks for the additional info about ginger. That's good to know as I'm always feeling cold!

    ovenhaven - aw thx XD.

    elra - I appreciate you saying that!

    Michelle - Yay! Sounds like I'm doing something right.

    Rosa - Thanks! I can't take much credit for the combo, but please do try it as it's so well-matched.

    Joanne - Just what I was going for :).

    Danielle - I totally blushed when I read that. You're too sweet!

    Juliana - (=

    Prerna - I answered your questions on your blog. Hope it helps!

    Leemei - It sure does.

    Robin - Oh I did read that it's especially useful for reducing early pregnancy nausea. Glad it helped you get past that rough spot :).

    Heidi - Please do try it. You won't regret it I promise.

    Anh - Anytime, my friend :).

    Faith - I'm glad it's helped with your stomach problems.

    Chanel - If only you could smell it. I'd definitely send a slice your way if you were closer ;p.

    Steph - Thx, girl. And yea, he's pretty consistently amazing.

    Jess - that's kinda similar to how I feel about olives. hated them since childhood and suddenly couldn't get enough. you know except for the whole sweet vs. savory thing ;).

    Jennifer - That's very nice of you to say. Come on over!

    Mindy - I have in fact tried it and I even tossed a tiny bit onto this cake right before putting it in the oven. Delicious!

    warmvanillasugar - please let me know if you like it when you do try it :).

  22. Fresh Ginger Cake - how much more gingery can it be other than nibbling on fresh ginger. I have tried ginger cookies, ginger chews, but not a ginger cake with roasted pears. Love using ginger in cooking though. :D

  23. Two absolutely lovely recipes! I love Ginger and this is definitely not for the Ginger faint hearted! Bookmarked!

  24. Sigh-such gorgeous photography and styling! I like ginger but hubby is a ginger freak. He'll snack on crystallised ginger!

  25. i won't lie--ginger's not my favorite spice. it's not even in my top five. however, i'd certainly enjoy this cake, due in no small part to those pears!

  26. Oh, just beautiful! The cake, the pears, everything. I love how rustic and "Rembrandt-ish" the first 2 photos look. :)

  27. Congratulations on making one of the top blogs!

    Gourmet Cupcake

  28. Just discovered your blog and I am so glad I did. Love the photos, writing and of course, the recipes. I just took a liking to ginger a few years ago and can't get enough of it now. I'm sure if I had this cake in front of me right now, I could not resist the temptation to devour the whole thing. Looking forward to more of your blog posts.

  29. YUM! I adore ginger both for its flavor and medicinal purposes. A cup of hot ginger tea works wonders for a sore throat. Pairing this cake with roasted pears sounds perfect for a cold day. I'll definitely be making this as soon as leaves start changing color!

  30. The photography is just beautiful! And the cake sounds divine....absolutely perfect as we enter Fall!

  31. beautiful photography which captures the rustic beauty of ginger. I love ginger too, totally drooling at your slice of ginger cake :)

  32. Xiaolu wow! You've outdone yourself again. Everything is so beautiful. Roasted pear and ginger sounds so fall, so perfect.


  33. Just stunning photos! I love both pear and ginger so much, and they're even better together. Sounds like a must-make cake alright!

  34. Beautiful clicks! Esp. the ginger shot...love its rustic look.

  35. How exquisitely perfect! I love ginger and pear scones too. And I've been dreaming of poaching and roasting pears myself.
    I was actually thinking of making gingerbread cake with poached pears. Haha. I think your ginger cake is a bit more original though :)

  36. It is really generous!!! I love making my own ginger tea by mixing with lemongrass, pandan leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick and coconut sugar.

    But, I never try really genaerous ginger cake with pear. It sounds yummy.

  37. Amazing pictures and delicious-looking cake! I could put ginger in all my food!! Love it!

  38. Wonderful cake recipe!

    Btw, do you know where can I buy molasses? I am after the molasses blocks.

  39. MMMM,...your ginger cake with roasted pears looks amazing!!

    Pretty too!

    My husband & I love ginger in all of its formes!

  40. tigerfish - haha, I do nibble on candied ginger sometimes, but you're right it's pretty intense :).

    Shirley - nope it's not! hope you enjoy it :).

    Lorraine - aw thx. as I wrote above, I snack on that too!

    grace - the pears would be great on any other spice cake too, I think. :)

    Ju - aw that's high praise. thx so much.

    Rita - you're too kind. the cupcakes on your site look delish, by the way.

    Eliana - Welcome! Glad you're liking what you see. Definitely sounds like this is the cake for you =D.

    smalltownoven - please do :).

    Koko - thx, girl. I do love a good seasonal dessert.

    noobcook - rustic is definitely the right word hehe. I had to think a while about how to capture it.

    Laura - thanks! I'm glad I got to post it at the beginning of the season. hopefully it encourages more ppl to try it.

    Hannah - :).

    Angie - Glad you like it!
    Indie.Tea - thanks but I can't claim much originality as these are barely adapted from the 2 sources listed but why mess with a great thing? 8)

    Pepy - Yep, my titles are accurate if anything! Love the sound of your tea. It's so much spicier and more interesting than my usual one with brown sugar.

    Sweet Artichoke - thx for stopping by!

    Spoon and Chopsticks - glad you like it. sorry I've never heard of molasses blocks. the kind I use is available at most American supermarkets and also on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Grandmas-Original-Molasses-Natural-Unsulphured/dp/B0005XP1E2/ref=sr_1_3?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1284849751&sr=8-3 If you live somewhere that doesn't sell it, you could also substitute with 2/3 cup (160ml) black treacle + 1/3 cup (80ml) golden syrup.

    Sophie - mm I'm glad you and your husband could enjoy this together. my bf isn't as crazy about ginger as I am.

  41. Those are most beautiful food photographs! It makes me think of the fall and then the warmth and the tending we all need.. your recipe and pictures says it all. With a delicacy like this how can we not come join you. Cannot have enough of ginger and this is seriously good.

  42. What a gorgeous spice cake on it's own I'm sure it's okay but paired with the pears:-) (bad pun) it looks beyond delicious

  43. I first tried crystallized ginger last year, while visiting my friend Valentina in London - I started eating the ginger like mad, and she told me it would give me a stomachache or something, but I just did not mind - I got addicted to the stuff. ;D
    Fresh ginger is an older passion, though - and I cannot wait to try it paired with pears. Lovely recipe, sweetie!

  44. When it comes to ginger for me, the more the better! ;)

  45. Thank you for your visit, Xiaolu!

    I would love to try this recipe the next time I bake with pears and ginger - it sounds delicious!

  46. The last picture is gorgeous - lovely cake and a great way to welcome autumn.

  47. Soma - thanks for such sweet words. glad you like this :).

    WizzyTheStick - haha, I love cheesy puns and really the pear pairing does make the cake twice as good in my opinion ;p.

    Patricia - definitely a relatively health addiction. I hope you do get a chance to try this out. I just know you'd love it :).

    Carolyn - Amen!

    SavoringTime in the Kitchen - Thanks.

    Trissa - :).

  48. The title of this post was enough to get me excited... sounds so deliciously spicy and good!!

  49. Seriously gorgeous photos!! And the presentation with the cream draped just so - perfect! I love ginger in cooking but in baking, I only like using powdered ginger. I made ginger muffins once with fresh ginger and it was just too much for me. But I think the ginger was diced and not minced.

  50. Gorgeous photography. BTW I made this cake this afternoon-chopped the fresh ginger in my food processor and hand mixed the rest. Baked it in a 9X13" baking pan (since I didn't have the right size round pan)linedwith parchment paper for approx 45 minutes. No pears this time around (my pears were too ripe), but I sprinkled powdered sugar on top of the rich brown cake and it looked beautiful. The fresh ginger and molasses work well together. Perfect moist and flavorful cake for a cold rainy fall evening!

  51. Thanks for your feedback! Glad it turned out well and I agree it really is a great treat for a cold day :).


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu