Hello all! I am excited present a cake that has taken weeks of mental planning and troubleshooting. What I will say is that making this cake has taught me so much about mastering a technique rather than a recipe, and I think that lies at the heart of what it takes to be a good baker.
I wanted to re-create the flavors of ginger ale by making a cake that was very ginger-forward, but that also that was balanced and scrumptious. The start of the recipe is the crystallized ginger.
¾ cup ginger, peeled and sliced to 1/8th in thick
3 cups water
¾ cups sugar
Peel about 8 oz fresh ginger root. Slice the ginger on a bias; I used a mandolin to get my slices even thickness. Add to saucepan with high sides, and pour the water over top. Bring to a boil and reduce to a strong simmer for 30-35 min. Take off the heat and drain the broth, reserving 3 tablespoons (I saved the rest of the broth in ice trays, and it will go in teas and shakes). Add sugar and water to drained ginger and place on medium high heat. Stir constantly until water dissolves and sugar recrystallizes on ginger's surface, about 10 minutes. Pour onto sheet pan to cool completely and dry, at least 1 hour.
Since I was already peeling ginger, I went ahead and peeled some more for my ginger jelly. Shout out to the eGullet community: I asked*** about how to create some sort of jam or jelly to fill the cake, and you guys provided such great help. I adapted some techniques from a few recipes to come up with one of my own, and I think it came out quite well.
⅔ cup ginger, peeled and grated or chopped in food processor
5 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
seeds from lemon
1 packet liquid pectin
Add ginger and water to saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.
Then add sugar, lemon juice, and zest to pan and increase heat to medium high.
Allow to boil for 15 minutes, then add pectin and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes and then remove from heat to cool completely. Consider using a piece of cling-film on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. When cooled, run through a fine mesh strainer to remove ginger chunks.
I went with a genoise sponge because it's my favorite sponge to make. It's very simple, very elegant, and very easy to customize. I tried replacing 1 egg with 3 egg yolks and I think this is going to be new baseline genoise recipe. Also sorry for switching to grams from here on, I just always do cakes in metric
7 whole eggs, extra large or "jumbo"
3 egg yolks
250 g sugar
200 g whole wheat pastry flour
50 g corn starch
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
30 g butter, melted and warm but not hot
Separate 3 eggs and reserve the whites. Add yolks to additional whole eggs and sugar and whip on medium-high speed for 8 minutes, until you have reached ribbon stage. In the meantime, sift together dry ingredients, pre-heat your oven to 350˚F, and line two 9-inch tins with parchment. Do not grease the tins as the cake needs to climb the sides of the pan. Once eggs and sugar are whipped, add dry mix, one heaping tablespoon at a time, with mixer on lowest possible speed.
Once flour is almost completely incorporated, add a few dollops to butter and mix vigorously. Add buttered batter to main batter and fold in with rubber spatula, being careful not to deflate the batter. Once fully mixed in, split between two tins (roughly 500g mix each if using "jumbo" eggs). Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and release by running offset spatula on outside to free from sides. Invert cake, remove parchment, and place back on cooling rack to cool completely.
When ready to use, split into 2 layers each, 4 layers total. Brush each exposed side with milk (or simple syrup).
This buttercream is special to me because I have been learning about confectionary lately, marshmallows in particular. This was a recipe I developed that was inspired by marshmallow fluff + Italian meringue buttercream. The idea of the barley malt syrup is that it has a strong, malty flavor that feels very ale-y when added to sharp ingredients like ginger.
200 g barley malt syrup
100 g water (I used ginger broth from crystallized ginger!)
210 g sugar
3 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp sea salt
350 g butter, at room temperature
Heat syrup, water and sugar over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Then, reduce to medium and bring temperature up to 118˚C (I got to about 115˚ and my pan started scorching, so I aborted there. Try swirling the syrup every now and then and use a pan with quite high sides). Once at temperature, remove from heat and whip eggs and cream of tartar until frothy. Pour syrup into egg whites while on medium speed and then increase to medium-high speed to whip until room temperature. While whipping, add ginger, turmeric and salt. Once cool, add butter 2 tbsp at a time on medium-low speed. Stop mixer, scrape down sides, and whip on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
To assemble, place a small dollop of frosting on the cake stand and place one layer of sponge. Make frosting border and fill with half the jam. Place next sponge on top and using large ice cream scoop, add 3 scoops frosting to the top of the sponge. Even out layer and take remaining frosting out to cake edges. Place next layer on top, repeat border and jelly, and finish with the final cake layer. Add 5 scoops to the top of the sponge and even out to thin layer, taking remaining frosting out to the edges and covering the sides.
Once crumb coated, place in fridge for 20 minutes. Then take out and frost with remaining buttercream.
Smooth out sides and top of cake and adorn with candied ginger.
Such a nice result and such a tasty cake. Using milk as my soak has really improved the texture of the final sponge, which is super supple and moist. I think 3 egg yolks might be the key to the cake being so moist. It's a sturdy sponge with a tender crumb, and the turmeric actually calms the fury of the ground ginger and produces a very mellow fragrance that you smell right before you take a bite.