Molasses Spice Cake

molasses spice cakeSeattle restaurateur Renée Erickson says of this rich spice cake “I like savory food, and I’m not a baker, which means that when I discover a cake that’s filled with curious flavors like mustard, coffee, black pepper, and ginger, and is also simple to bake, I stick with it.” We can’t argue with that, or with this cake’s spice-heavy punch.

Cake
2½ cups (about 320 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for pan
2 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbps. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. black pepper
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup molasses
4 shots espresso or 2/3 cup strong brewed coffee, plus whole milk to equal 1 cup, cooled

Candied Orange Peel
2 organic Seville or navel oranges
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, whipped just before serving

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Carefully butter and flour a Bundt pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, mustard, and black pepper to blend.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 1 minute, until light. Add the eggs, molasses, and espresso mixture, and mix again on low speed until blended (a few small lumps are okay), scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the dry ingredients, then mix on low speed just until the flour is completely incorporated.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out squeaky clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and let it cool.

While the cake bakes, make the candied orange peel: First, halve and juice the oranges, then strain the juice into a liquid measuring cup. Carefully cut the pith from the oranges, saving just the orange part of the peel. Slice the peel into ¼-inch-thick strips, transfer them to a small saucepan, and add water to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, boil the peel for 5 minutes, then drain the water. Add fresh water to the reserved orange juice to make 1 cup of liquid, then add the liquid and the sugar to the pan with the poached orange peel. Return the peel to the heat and cook at a low boil for about 10 minutes, or until the peels are very shiny and almost translucent.

Transfer the slices to a piece of parchment paper to dry, and reserve the syrup for glazing the cake.

When the cake has cooled for about 10 minutes, bring the glaze back to a simmer to loosen it up, then brush the glaze all over the top and sides of the cake. Let the glaze soak in for a few minutes, then brush again, repeating until you’ve used all the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature, sliced, with the candied orange peel and freshly whipped cream.

©2014 By Renee Erickson with Jess Thomson. All rights reserved. Excerpted from A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus: Menus and Stories by permission of Sasquatch Books.