July 6, 2010

July Recipe: Chow's Ginger Cake

This month's recipe was chosen by Gretchen. The recipe for Ginger Cake below is her absolute favorite dessert. It comes from a great restaurant here in San Francisco, CHOW, and the recipe was published by SF Gate who also admire chef Tony Gulisano's recipe. Gretchen is challenging us to replicate this dessert and "attempt to achieve the gooey, moist, delicious consistency that Chow achieves every time". 

There are three components to the recipe - the cake, caramel and whipped cream. If you read through the SFGate article, it suggests serving it with Vanilla Ice Cream, or Pumpkin Ice Cream like Chow does, but the recipe only calls for whipped cream. Feel free to make your own ice cream in addition to this months recipe if you have the equipment. Try also to stick as close to the original as possible so we can see who makes the gooiest cake possible. Sorry to those of you who don't live in San Francisco and have no frame of reference for this cake (I haven't eaten here yet so I'm just as clueless). But, I have a feeling you will be able to make it.... and possibly even enjoy it. If you need to make adjustments for dietary restrictions feel free. Here is one source for substitutions

Remember to post during the last week of the month and by the 31st. Looking forward to seeing your cakes!

Credit: Craig Lee / Special to The Chronicle; styled by Julia Mitchell

Chow's Ginger Cake with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream
SF Gate, courtesy of Chow Restaurant, San Francisco
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The secrets:

Two kinds of ginger: Loads of fresh ginger, backed by the powdered product, gives the cake a fresh spike of flavor. Dark molasses: This adds a rich, earthy element to the blend. Warming before serving: While the cake is good cold, it tastes even better gently reheated in the oven. Caramel sauce: The caramel adds a pleasant dose of sweetness and sets this cake apart. Serves 16
Ginger cakeButter and flour to prepare pan
2 ounces ginger, peeled and finely grated on a Microplane (about 3 tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup rice bran oil or other neutral flavored oil
3/4 cup dark molasses (see Note)
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon baking soda
Caramel sauce1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
Whipped cream1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, + more to garnish
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9- by 9-inch cake pan and dust very lightly with flour or line with parchment paper (see Note).
Combine ginger with 1/2 tablespoon water in a mixing bowl; add sugar, oil and molasses. Mix on low speed. Add eggs; continue mixing at low speed until fully incorporated.
Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, white pepper, ground ginger and baking soda in another mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients slowly to the egg mixture, continuing to beat slowly, scraping mixing bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium for 2 minutes. Scrape; decrease speed to low and slowly add 3/4 cup hot tap water. Mix until just combined, occasionally scraping. (The batter will be slightly thin.)
Pour into prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.
For the caramel sauce: In a medium-size stainless steel pot, combine sugar and 1 3/4 cups hot water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add corn syrup and cream of tartar; mix. Wipe down the inside of the pot with a wet towel to remove any sugar crystals. If needed, also brush inside of pot just once with a wet pastry brush. Bring to a boil over high heat without stirring, until mixture becomes a deep caramel color or a candy thermometer reaches 335°.
Remove pot from heat and immediately add cream in a slow stream while stirring (be careful - it will pop and sputter). Whisk in salt and the butter, a little at a time.
The caramel sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated. Carefully reheat in a water bath or in a microwave before using. Makes approximately 2 cups.

For the whipped cream: Vigorously whisk cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar in a cold bowl until the cream reaches soft peaks. You want the cream to be relatively soft so it can slowly run over the sides of the cake. Makes about 2 cups; refrigerate leftovers to use another time.
To finish: (At Chow, the cake is cut into 2-inch squares and reheated 2 1/2 minutes in a 350° oven.) Place the cake square in a shallow bowl, top with caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Note: If you plan to turn the cake out of the pan before cutting, also use the parchment paper, which helps the cake release more easily. Dark molasses (also labeled "full") is more intensely flavored and less sweet than light or mild molasses. Avoid using blackstrap, which is less sweet and has a stronger flavor than dark molasses.


  1. Even though I don't have a point of reference either (having never been to Chows - I'll make sure I do next time I'm in SF), this recipe does look fantastic!
    I'm excited already!

  2. That looks like some serious fine dining! I've just got to try this! I really like the sound of your ingredients (and of course, the picture, lol!). I'm really fond of baking, 'really enjoy spending most of the day in the kitchen. Cake recipes are my favorite thing to make, :)