Triple ginger layer cake

by Jeanne on October 29, 2007

in Recipes - baking, Recipes - vegetarian, Waiter, there's something in my...

20071029_tripegingercakewhole_2I am not a baker.

Or at the very least, I am to baking what Hunter S. Thompson was to journalism.

All my baking escapades seem to involve the wrong ingredients due to crazy last-minute substitutions, incorrect or inadequate equipment (I mean, does every home really need a palette knife??) and a laissez faire attitude to the following of precise instructions.  For these reasons I have convinced myself that I am not and will never be a baker.  I can be persuaded to bake scones, cookies or muffins – but cakes?  Forget it!

Aaaah, but there was a time when I did bake cakes.  Well, sort of.  ** BIG EMBARRASSING CONFESSION ALERT! **  When I was at university, for some reason at some celebration with friends, the task of baking a cake fell to me.  In all likelihood, some bloke I was interested in mentioned how much he loved chocolate cake, and I went straight to the first supermarket I coudl find to buy the ingredients.  As you do.  But seeing as the cake was merely a means to an end, I didn’t start with flour, icing sugar, cocoa and all the fiddly stuff.  Oh no – I headed for the cake mixes.  Moir’s moist chocolate cake mix, as I recall, which was endearingly referred to as “Moira’s cake mix” by my best friend’s Croatian mom. By nightfall I had two square chocolate cakes, which I sandwiched with a tin of Caramel Treat (South Africa’s version of dulce du leche) and iced with my mom’s trusty chocolate frosting recipe.  Thus armed, I set off into the night in my little Ford Escort (called Morten, after the lead singer of A-ha, of course) to a party on campus and at the appropriate moment, I told the birthday boy in question that I had a surprise for him, so about half a dozen of us trooped off to my car in the parking lot where I presented him with the cake.  This went down so well that the baking of chocolate cakes became my party trick for the rest of my university career, but always chocolate – never any other flavour, never any other icing.

And never any actual ingredients, always cake mix.  Cringe.

And even scarier – that’s the last time I baked a cake (OK, so I did make a cheesecake this year… with ingredient substitutions.  Which didn’t set properly because I followed the instructions only half way.  See what I mean?!).  So you can imagine my feelings of dread when Andrew announced this months’ theme for Waiter, There’s Something in My… Cakes.  And not just any cakes – layer cakes.  And seeing as I co-founded the event, I couldn’t very well chicken out, could I?  Damn.



And so I put it off and put it off and put it off… until finally this weekend I could put it off no more.  Saturday was a write-off as I spent most of the day enjoying a bloody fantastic meal in the excellent company of Johanna and Xochitl at Petersham Nurseries, so when Sunday dawned I had to find a recipe – fast!  In the end, I chose something suitably Autumnal from the great list of layer cake recipes at Epicurious… and unsurprisingly, there were ingredient substitutions and equipment issues.  No golden brown sugar?  How about dark brown?  Don’t have 2 cake tins? OK, use a pyrex bowl instead.  Bloody hell – how am I supposed to measure solid butter in cups?  Oh, let’s guesstimate we need roughly 250 grams… You get the picture.

But to my utter amazement, as the recipe progressed, things just seemed to turn out right!  And the end product reminded me of a recipe for bar cookies that my mom used to make and for which I have lost the recipe – but now I have a recipe I can adapt. This memory is the reason for my addition of cherries to garnish the cake – my mom’s cookies contained both glace cherries and crystallised ginger.  In fact, if I make this cake again, I may add some chopped cherries to the batter too.  A word of warning – if you don’t love ginger, this is probably not the recipe for you as there is ginger in the batter, the icing and the garnish.  And it is a robust, gingerbready kind of cake, not a fluffy sponge, so if you’re looking for feather-light, look elsewhere.  Other than that, you should love it – I know my husband and colleagues do…

More awesome cakes from other food blogging friends:




TRIPLE GINGER LAYER CAKE20071028_triplegingercakeslice


Non-stick spray (or I used plain old butter)
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 cup finely chopped crystallised ginger
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (I used 190g)
3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp buttermilk

500g cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (I used 125g)
3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
2/3 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup minced crystallised ginger
3-4 glace cherries, chopped (optional)


Pre-heat the oven to 180C.  Spray with the non-stick spray (or grease with butter) two 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch high sides and line the bottoms with parchment.

Mix the flour, crystallised ginger, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.  Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk in 3 roughly equal additions, scraping the sides of the bowl often.  Beat just until batter is smooth.

Pour batter equally into the prepared cake tins and bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean – 30-40 minutes. Cool the cakes in their tins on a rack for 10 minutes.  Run a small knife around the sides of the pan to loosen cakes, then turn out onto racks and cool completely.  Peel off parchment.

Using electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl until fluffy.  Add brown suger, icing sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger and vanilla.  Beat until well blended.  Mix in 1/4 cup of the minced crystallised ginger.

Place one cake layer on a platter.  If, like mine, the top of your cake is domed, this will be problematic when you come to add the second layer, so fix it.  Place one hand firmly on top of the cake.  Using a bread knife, carefully slice the domed top off the cake so that the top is smooth.

Spread about 1 cup of the frosting over the (now flat!) top of the first layer.  Place second layer on the first.  Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  You may need extra frosting where the two layers meet to disguise the join and give your cake smooth sides.  Decorate top of cake with the remainder of the ginger and cherries.

Cover with cake dome (or, in my case, an upturned mixing bowl…) and refrigerate.  Let stand at room temperature for 2 hrs before serving.

20071029_triplegingercakeabove 20071028_triplegingercakeslice2

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicisme October 30, 2007 at 4:39 pm

It looks fabulous – especially that last photo!
I meant to enter but before I knew it, time was up!


Coffee & Vanilla October 30, 2007 at 4:59 pm

Your ginger cake looks very impressive!
I checked info on peppadew peppers you mentioned and they sound intrigueing, they were described as something between cherry tomato and bell pepper :)
Enjoy your evening, Margot


Coffee & Vanilla October 30, 2007 at 4:59 pm

Your ginger cake looks very impressive!
I checked info on peppadew peppers you mentioned and they sound intrigueing, they were described as something between cherry tomato and bell pepper :)
Enjoy your evening, Margot


Coffee & Vanilla October 30, 2007 at 4:59 pm

Your ginger cake looks very impressive!
I checked info on peppadew peppers you mentioned and they sound intrigueing, they were described as something between cherry tomato and bell pepper :)
Enjoy your evening, Margot


bee October 30, 2007 at 5:05 pm

dear jeanne, i have sent you an e-mail (a couple, actually) at your yahoo ID. not sure if that’s the one you check regularly, so i thought i’d let you know.


abby October 30, 2007 at 7:23 pm

cake mix??? that’s terrible jeanne! ;)
but what a leap to make, the ginger cake looks fabulous, and the icing sounds particularly good.


African Vanielje October 31, 2007 at 12:10 am

See Jeanne, you were obviously predestined to bake. I can see it now, dozens of office workers trooping out to your ford escort (substitute DLR carriage) to partake of Triple Ginger Layer Cake, once they have forgiven SA for winning the rugby of course.


Rosemary October 31, 2007 at 9:21 am

Your cake really looks the business!! Using a cake mix is the best secret any girl can have – better than her girdle!!!


Annemarie October 31, 2007 at 3:04 pm

For a not a baker type, this first cake after decades of abstinence looks great. It could be your first step into a whole new world. :)


lydia hamre October 31, 2007 at 3:48 pm



herschelian November 1, 2007 at 11:04 am

Yes – every household DOES need a palette knife! Not just for icing cakes, smoothing out Oat Crunchie mix before baking etc, but for other things too such as sliding into the stuck drawer in the bedroom so you can force it open!


brilynn November 1, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Ha! I love your college party trick confession… but I think I would prefer the taste of this ginger cake!


Susan from Food Blogga November 2, 2007 at 10:57 pm

Well, for someone who approached this cake with trepidation, you did a smashing job! You can make me a cake any time you like, Jeanne. :)


Chris November 4, 2007 at 3:42 am

The cake looks great! I love the topping of cherries and ginger. Great combo of flavors.


Spittoon Extra November 4, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Waiter There’s Something In My… Layered cake

For all you chefs, chefettes, cooks, recipe followers and aga-strokers the round-up for the Layered Cake edition of Waiter There’s Something In My… a theme selected by me. An excellent selection of some of the most delicious cakes available across…


Cakelaw November 5, 2007 at 3:39 am

Yum – I absolutely adore ginger, so this is the cake for me!!! Love the cherry and ginger garnish – it really makes the look of the cake!


Kim November 9, 2007 at 6:01 pm

I love the fact you used a Pyrex bowl as your baking vessel. That will certainly go into my memory bank for the next time my son wants an ice cream cake. Lovely cake as well. I can’t wait to try it out.


arfi November 15, 2007 at 8:50 am

this is a tempting recipe! great ideas!


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