Thursday, 6 July 2017

Ginger Cake - the Ruth Reichl Way

You may remember that when Ruth Reichl was the food critic for the New York Times, she used to dress up in weird outfits and book restaurants under a false name so they didn't twig who she was.  I don't think that always worked.  But it must have been fun to do, and oh so funny to discover her disguises.  I even do it myself sometimes - the fake name thing, not the disguises.  For some reason, people can't seem to understand my name or even hubby's (he has a different surname to me).  But then I forget which name I've used, so it gets tricky.:=)

I am getting more and more dubious in my vintage years about cookbooks - aren't you? So many times the recipes don't seem to work, but let me tell you that Ruth has done herself proud.  I have made 2 dishes out of this book (I know, I know, not a huge sample), and they have both been superb.  This cake is sublime.  A must-do, folks.  It doesn't look or sound like much, but it is so deeeelicious!

try this! so delish

This recipe is from her book my kitchen year which is chock-a-block with interesting dishes.  It was written after she was made redundant at Gourmet magazine in 2009, when the whole shebang was abruptly closed down.  She retreated to her holiday home in upstate New York, and ended up writing this cookbook of "Recipes that Saved My Life."


2 large eggs

220g. white sugar

75g. brown sugar

a piece of ginger root - about 6 cm long - grated finely - to obtain 2 tbs of ginger

400g. unsweetened apple sauce

170 mLs plain vegetable oil (I used peanut) 

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g. plain flour

1.5 tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp sea salt

black pepper - a few grinds

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2-1 tsp ground ginger

For the Glaze:

250 mLs of cream - pure or thickened

75g. brown sugar

3 tsp light corn syrup or golden syrup

a pinch of  sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract


Turn your oven to 180C

Butter and flour a 3 Litre Bundt pan

The Cake:

Grab a large mixing bowl and break the eggs into it

Whisk both sugars with the eggs

Add the grated ginger and the apple sauce

Whisk in the oil and vanilla till smooth

Tip the flour into a small mixing bowl

Whisk in the bicarb, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and ground ginger

Combine the flour mix and the apple sauce mix together gently

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan

Bake for about 45 minutes till the cake bounces back when you press on the surface

Take it out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes

Then turn it out onto a wire rack and leave it cool down

The Glaze:

Grab a small saucepan and pour the cream in

Whisk in the sugar, corn syrup and salt

Bring it to the boil then lower to medium heat

Let it boil for about 15 minutes, whisking every few - watch it, it tends to boil over quickly

When it has started to become smooth and thick, take it off the heat and whisk in the vanilla

Put the cake on a serving plate and spoon the luscious glaze all over it - yes you will end up with a puddle of sauce and you will think it is way too much but believe me, you want all that glaze!

This cake tastes better and is more moist the next day, so if you can wait...

Ruth says you can carefully put the cake on a rack over baking paper so you don't end up with a mess, but who cares!


It's really hard to buy unsweetened apple sauce!  Even the one I checked carefully (so I thought) had about 10% sugar.  So my suggestion is to buy one of those big tins of apple slices, which are unsweetened and just apples, and give them a whizz with a stick blender to purée them

Ruth calls this a gingered applesauce cake with caramel glaze.  Her recipe says to use 1/2 tbs of grated ginger, but we couldn't even taste it so I upped it to 2 tbs! and added ground ginger.  Mr P. said he thought the glaze was butterscotch rather than caramel, which I'd have to agree with - delicious whatever you call it

Grate the whole knob of ginger, take out what you need and place the rest in a freezer bag.  It will last for months in the freezer

Ruth says the glaze is optional.  Nah!  It is so wonderful, you have to make it (I kept sticking my finger into the sauce and devouring it)

I had to adapt those pesky cup measures that Ruth uses (grrr); a real bugbear of mine. I also find the way she lists ingredients a tad annoying as they aren't in order of use. What's with that?

gather your ingredients

whisk the eggs, sugar, apple sauce, ginger, oil and vanilla together 

whisk the dry ingredients together 

mix the wet and the dry ingredients together  

This is like a muffin batter, where you want to mix the wet and dry together gently.  So don't beat it up, just whisk in with love.

butter and flour your Bundt pan well  

Shake out the excess flour carefully.  You don't want big globules of flour on your perfect Bundt-y beauty.

into the oven and out of the oven 

look how pretty!

the glaze is stirred every few minutes for 15 minutes 

shiny, gooey, luscious glaze drips all over your cake  

Yep, it looks like too much glaze you are thinking, but wait till you try it!  You will thank Ruth for her extravagance.  Grab your spoon now and lick it up, I tell you :=)  This cake tastes even better the next day; the first day the outer surface was a tiny bit rubbery, but it became softer and more delish the day after.  By the third day, it was still fabulous and all gone, 'cos we ate it all up.

my gingery doodle


  1. this was one of the best cakes ever! Mrs Pickings did a great job.

  2. Thanks Mr P. Glad you liked it!

  3. Hi Sherry, this does sound good, even if a bit decadent.

  4. This looks fantastic and you know how I feel about cookbooks-the same way as you!

    1. yep i know you do lorraine:) They seem so unreliable you wonder if they ever tried the recipes out themselves. I must say the pastry recipe from maggie beer for example is annoying too. too much for just a base and too little for base and top. what's with that?:)

  5. I especially share your doubt with cookbooks written by "top" chefs, most of the recipes have not been adequately tested in home kitchens. I still love them though, newer ones have glorious photography even with dubious recipes.

    1. I still find it most odd that annabel langbein who has been a well-known NZ cook for many years has somewhat dubious recipes in her books. very odd!

  6. I saw this on Instagram-looks amazing. I absolutely love ginger cakes and haven't made one for ages. Just begging for a cup of tea :)

    1. You have to try this one Jem. It's very moreish.


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