Gingerbread Tea Cake
A simple and unpretentious one layer gingerbread cake, filled with raspberry preserves, and topped with a tart lemon glaze.
I made you cake!
Well, really, I just made myself some cake. Unfortunately, the internet has not developed a way for me to share this directly with you. Until that day arrives (please hurry, internet), I’ll just describe it in excessive detail and take some pictures, OK? Sounds like a plan.
I recently watched a New York Time’s video that was all about the business of food writing. Or to be more specific, how newspaper food critics go about describing food.
It was fascinating–and while its quite a complicated process, to be sure, I was more than happy to hear that even the pros struggle at times. To quote Ruth Reichl, there are only so many words in the English dictionary that can be used to describe food. Delicious and my personal favorite, aghhhhh-oh-my-god-this-is-so-good (clearly, I need to work on this) only go so far…
At a certain point, it comes down to how the food makes you feel. Or simply, the memories and traditions that a certain dish evokes.
This cake is a perfect example of that. It is warm, full of spice (from ginger, allspice, cloves and cinnamon), and simply put, tastes exactly how I would imagine fall would taste….that is, if fall was a flavor in and of itself.
Simple, unpretentious, and pretty addicting. Just as the name suggests, it is the type of cake that will make you want to snuggle up in bed with a blanket, good book, and a hot mug of tea. And, of course, a mandatory slice (or two) of cake.
I discovered this hidden gem of a recipe in the reader submission section of a November 1994 issue of Gourmet–and didn’t look back.
The original cake recipe called for raspberry jam filling, which I highly recommend (don’t worry, all you need is a steady hand and serrated bread knife), and chocolate buttercream frosting. I chose to forgo the latter in lieu of a light, zesty lemon glaze that can be put together in mere seconds. All three work so wonderfully together.
The glaze is simply the icing on the cake. Both literally and figuratively, of course. Enjoy!
Gingerbread Tea Cake
- 1½ cups (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ cup (120 mL) buttermilk room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup (4 oz; 115 g) unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar light or dark
- ½ cup unsulfured molasses
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ⅓ cup raspberry preserves
- 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar sifted
- juice of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) heavy cream or half and half
- Prepare Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) with a rack in the center position. Grease and flour, tapping out any excess, a 9-inch cake pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. In separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or hand mixer), combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat over medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the molasses and mix over low speed until just combined. Over medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the mixer bowl after each addition.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the buttermilk mixture. Mix until the flour has just been absorbed. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and ensure that all the ingredients have been incorporated.
- Transfer the batter to the greased cake pan and use an offspet spatula to smooth the surface. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean with some moist crumbs.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, invert cake onto rack and allow it to cool completely. Make Ahead Tip: Cake can be prepared up to a day in advance and tightly covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.
- Assemble Cake: Once cake has cooled completely, use a long serrated bread knife to cut the cake horizontally in half. The easiest way to do this is to go slowly; don’t worry about making it perfect.
- Arrange the bottom layer cut side up on a cake plate and using a offset spatula, layer with the raspberry preserves. Place remaining cake layer cut side down on top.
- Prepare the Glaze: Whisk together the sifted powdered sugar, lemon juice, and heavy cream in a small bowl until well combined. The glaze should be easily pourable, but not too thin. Adjust the texture as necessary by adding a touch more powdered sugar or heavy cream.
- Using a spoon, drizzle spoonfuls over the top of the cake. Use a clean offset spatula to spread it out, allowing it to drizzle gently over the sides. Serve immediately. Cake can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for up to three days.
Previously on Throwback Thursday…
- Bicoastal Cookies [Chocolatier, November 1987]
- Lemon Crumb Cake [Bon Appetit, April 1995]
- Baked Sea Bass with Tomatoes [Bon Appetit, August 1995]
- Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream [Gourmet, August 1993]
- Silver Dollar Pancakes + Blackberry Syrup [Gourmet, September 1990]
14 Comments on “Gingerbread Tea Cake”
Totally my kind of cake, though I usually add some honey instead of all molasses, because the latter is so bitter here! But spicy cakes are so darn good. And I just LOVE your vintage recipes Laura!
I need to make this as soon as I get into my new kitchen!
It always amazes me how perfect of a fit gingerbread and lemon are for each other! Way better than gingerbread and chocolate, in my opinion…so you made the right icing choice!
Oh my goodness, this cake looks SO good! I think I know what I will make for Christmas!!
Yay! Love that idea
What a beautiful cake!! It looks delicious… (clearly, I am very eloquent!). I am so so ready for gingerbread!
Yes!! I can’t wait to make more fall foods, they are my fave. Hope you’re doing well!
I would fall in love with this cake, actually I already did. And the lemon glaze, don’t get me started on that. Totally pinning and will be serving for breakfast for days!
Gingerbread cake is one of my favorite desserts – it is simple, classic and you’re totally right in that it tastes just like fall. I consider it my coping mechanism as I mourn the loss of summer. I’ve never made on this dense. It looks incredible (<—how that's for an overused food writing word? But seriously, it does!)
Haha! I love the word incredible–just sayin’. Thanks so much Nora!
YAY for cake! Cake makes me a very happy person and this one looks awesome! I love how you described it as fall flavor! Fall is a flavor, it just screams cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and basically everything this cake has going on! YES!! Love it! 🙂
Fall is totally a flavor. Thanks Tieghan! Hope you are having a fantastic weekend!
I’m so, so happy you made me cake!!! (I’m gonna pretend like you really did! 😀 ) I just need to grab my snuggly blanket and mug of tea, and I’ll be all ready! Gorgeous, I-just-wanna-eat-my-screen photos! Oh, and BTW, I think swapping the lemon glaze for the chocolate buttercream was a masterful choice!
I totally made you this.