Birthday Cake: Year 3

It’s Twice as Tasty’s birthday month, and that means cake. Get birthday cake recipes at
This month, we’re celebrating 3 years of Twice as Tasty! I’ve already shared some of the year’s best recipes and most popular workshops. And since my favorite “desserts” are usually served in a cocktail glass, I was quick to pass on my favorite recipe for homemade liqueur. This week’s post is for those of you who prefer to eat your dessert.

As I mentioned in last year’s birthday dessert post, I think a good celebratory cake must be moist, easy to decorate, and delicious. This ginger cake nails all three. The molasses not only adds the requisite gingerbread flavor but also keeps the crumb moist. The caramel glaze simply pours over the top: no fussy frosting time required. And the three versions of ginger—fresh, ground, and crystallized—replicate the flavors I fell in love with in Triple Gingersnaps.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
For the full effect, you need just 3 forms of ginger and some molasses, plus some baking staples and spices.
1. Prep two bowls: one with liquids and one with dry ingredients.
2. Whisk the dry ingredients into the liquids.
3. Mix in the remaining ingredients.
4. Pour the batter into a pan and bake.
5. Let the cake cool enough to cut, and then enjoy.

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Triple Ginger Cake

  • Servings: 12–16
  • Difficulty: 3
  • Print
1 ounce fresh ginger
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons Homemade Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup crystallized ginger

Butter and flour a Bundt pan or a 9-1/2-inch springform pan; set aside. Grate the fresh ginger using a ginger grater, or peel, slice, and finely chop the ginger with a sharp knife. In a large bowl, whisk together the molasses, sugar, and melted butter. In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, and pepper. Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan, stir in the baking soda, and then mix the hot water into the molasses mixture. Stir in the fresh ginger.

Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the batter. Lightly beat the eggs, and then add them and the vanilla to the batter; continue mixing just until everything is thoroughly combined. Finely chop the crystallized ginger and sprinkle into the prepared Bundt pan, and then pour in the batter; if using a springform pan, sprinkle the crystallized ginger on top of the batter. Bake on a centered oven rack at 350°F for 45–50 minutes, until the cake springs back lightly when pressed or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the cake browns too quickly, drape a piece of foil over the top of the pan and continue baking. Let the cake cool at least 30 minutes before using a knife to loosen it from the pan and then inverting the Bundt pan or releasing the springform. Drizzle with caramel sauce (see below), if desired, just before serving. Serves 12–16.

Tips & Tricks
  • It’s worth going big with the gingers: they add different flavors and textures. In a pinch, you could skip the crystallized ginger; if I’m serving kids, I don’t alter the other gingers, but for adults I add an extra ounce of fresh.
  • I find that the range of gingers comes through well even with the powerful flavor of blackstrap molasses. But if you find it too strong, dial back to a mild molasses next time.
  • Although many cookie and quick bread recipes use a blend of baking powder and baking soda, the fizzy soda water gives this cake a slightly crisp outside and soft interior, making it not just appealing on the tongue but also easier to cut.
  • I avoid preground black pepper; this spice quickly loses its full flavor, leaving behind only a sharp bite. If you want to grind to measure, fold a piece of paper in half, open it again and grind into the fold, and then pour the desired quantity into your measuring spoon.
  • One of the many beauties of this cake is that it tastes better if you make it a few hours or even a day ahead. As it sits, the flavors continue to develop, but the crumb remains soft.
  • A heavily floured pan can give the cake a mottled look, which I kind of enjoy. A sauce (see below) can cover most of it if you wish. You could instead top the cake with a whipped cream flavored with edible flowers or vanilla bean seeds.

It’s Twice as Tasty’s birthday month, and that means cake. Get birthday cake recipes at

Twice as Tasty

It’s Twice as Tasty’s birthday month, and that means cake. Get birthday cake recipes at sauce has frustrated many a cook: the ingredients are simple, but if you don’t handle it properly you could end up with a lumpy mess or, worse yet, a splatter burn. Years ago, when I was traveling in Croatia, I spent time in the kitchen of a woman who impressed me by making not just caramel but spun caramel sugar. It was gorgeous and slightly terrifying to watch her lift the threads of hot sugar up to chest height in her tiny kitchen.

So when my 5-year-old niece wanted to help me make ginger cake for my last birthday, I opted for a Bundt pan and a caramel sauce. You still have to be careful with the hot sugar, but a long-handled spoon and 3-quart or larger saucepan keep little fingers well away from the hot contents during the stirring.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 2 ingredients.
1. Melt the sugar.
2. Keep cooking to your desired color.
3. Mix in the cream and enjoy.

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Fresh Caramel Sauce

  • Servings: 1 cup
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature

Add the sugar to a heavy-bottomed, 3-quart or larger saucepan. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar slowly, cooking for 6–8 minutes and stirring constantly with a whisk. Once it has fully melted, switch the heat to low and cook for about 6 minutes, until the caramel is amber. Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk the cream in slowly, adding a few tablespoons at a time to control the bubbling. Serve the sauce warm over Triple Ginger Cake, or transfer to a jar, let cool to room temperature, and store in the refrigerator, where the sauce will keep several weeks. Makes about 1 cup.

Tips & Tricks
  • I make dry caramel sauce, meaning I don’t add water to the recipe. Although you risk uneven cooking and burning when you melt sugar alone, lower heat and stirring seem to resolve the issue. When I add water to the mix, I have more problems with seizing, which makes the sugar grainy.
  • People add a surprising range of ingredients to create caramel, including corn syrup, butter, and brown sugar. This recipe is based on my experience: plain granulated sugar works best for caramel, and cream is the ideal addition to make a rich sauce.
  • Although it’s not necessary for a dessert as flavorful as Triple Ginger Cake, I do add another ingredient or two when I’m making this sauce to serve with crepes or, for serious richness, over ice cream. For salted caramel, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of plain sea salt or infused salt at the end. A splash of vanilla gives a slight flavor twist. For a boozy version, stir in a dash of whiskey or bourbon.
  • I generally go by color and smell when deciding the caramel is done. But a candy thermometer, rather than a timer, is your surest way to nail your target: 220°F gives a light but easily poured caramel; 350°F gives a dark, thick sauce; and higher temperatures become inedible.

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