Gingerbread Cake_Jaggery and Molasses

I usually soak fruit for my fruitcake the moment we enter into the new year, just days after I make cake for Christmas. The fruit then soaks for a whole year before it goes into another batch of cake, making the house redolent with its boozy, spicy fragrances. I’ve been doing this for years and years. Last year, I baked cakes using the fruit I had soaked before I got pregnant; this year, however, I have no soaked fruit. Too much going on. Just forgot.

Then, last week, my friends Kurush and Rhea offered to send me some of their rich soaked fruit–they soak barrels of it every year for their catering business’s legendary Christmas Puddings with Brandy Butter. I had some of their lovely, dark, almost forbidden-looking (and smelling!) raisin-sultana mix waiting to be used. This morning, after a quietly satisfying morning chatting with M and playing with the kids, I realised that the reason I was feeling so up and happy was the nip in the air. By Mumbai standards, it is now Christmas weather–woollen sweaters that grandma knitted years ago are making their annual appearance on school going children, I’m downing more cups of ginger and lemongrass tea than usual, and at some point of the night when all our children crawl into our bed, M and I don’t complain as much as we do in October. It’s winter alright. A festive, Christmasy cake must be had.

So, I pulled out the generous gift of the fruit my friends sent me, the small box of dried ginger powder sitting quietly in the corner of my pantry drawer, and suddenly realised that I have run out of muscovado sugar. Like a good Marathi mulgi, though, I had jaggery aplenty. There was also some beautiful, aged Kaakvi (sugarcane molasses) from a Kolhapur trip two years ago. It was a quick cake. Hardly any thinking. But I can’t tell you how fabulously moist and light it was. And the flavor so deep, rich and warming. It’s a decidedly adult cake–quite boozy, not very sweet, and no fancy decoration. It’s the kind of cake that you want to make for tea with a loved one and eat as you both stare into the foggy distance, saying a thousand things without saying a single word, silently happy with life.

Gingerbread Cake with Jaggery and Molasses 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup soaked dried fruit (raisins and sultanas primarily, soaked in dark rum or brandy for as long as possible)
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger (optional)
  • 120 grams plain flour, sieved
  • 100 grams butter (I used salted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 80 grams dark jaggery, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Spice mix (4 cloves, 2 inch stick of cassia bark, 3 green cardamom, a large pinch of grated nutmeg pounded together to a powder)
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Method:

  1. Place the flour, baking powder, and spice mix together in a large mixing bowl. Use a whisk to combine and aerate.
  2. Tip the the soaked fruit with just a little bit of the soaking juices and toss in the flour. Keep aside.
  3. In a blender, place the jaggery, butter, and eggs together and blend until creamy. Add the molasses, marmalade, and orange juice, and blend until combined. If the mixture begins to split, simply add a tablespoonful of the flour mix and continue. (If the jaggery and molasses are pure; i.e., they do not contain any chemicals, the batter is unlikely to split.)
  4. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and fold in quick yet light-handed movements to combine.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9-inch round pan. Bake at 170 degrees centigrade for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Inver and cool (slightly) on a cake dish. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with spices or candied ginger if liked.
  7. Serve warm with tea or coffee.

Gingerbread cake cut