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Kate Lawson is on medical leave and will return after the holidays. Meanwhile, please enjoy one of her favorite recipes from over the years:

I make my living with words, so when a couple of Brits invited me over to play Scrabble last weekend, I thought, oh, what a rout this will be. Ha, not really.

The “Brits” are my neighbors Mary and her mother, Ivy, who is here visiting from Lichfield in Staffordshire, England, and they've been making cheap sport out of kicking willing participants’ behinds on the Scrabble board.

My other neighbor, Mary, and I joined the mother/daughter Scrabble cons on a bone-chilling Saturday afternoon, bringing wine for sustenance, a fresh ginger cake I had baked that morning, and our best game-on attitudes.

The Marys are always good for a laugh, and I have never seen Ivy without a smile on her face, so I knew it would be big fun. Well, with the exception of me getting roundly trounced in not one, but two, games, it was a grand time. I even learned some new words in the process — some of them I can repeat.

And finally, after the last drop of chardonnay was served and we had made quick work of the cheese platter, the scores were added up, and my Scrabble career officially hit a new all-time low.

All was not lost. I may not be the Scrabble whiz I thought, but my cake sure saved me face.

Fresh Ginger Cake

Adapted from “Ready for Dessert” by David Lebowitz

4 ounces fresh ginger

1 cup mild molasses

1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil, preferably peanut

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup water

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 eggs, at room temperature

Position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan or a 9 1/2-inch spring form pan with a circle of parchment paper.

Peel, slice and chop the ginger very fine with a knife (or use a grater).

Mix together the molasses, sugar and oil. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves and black 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 ginger.

Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the batter. Add the eggs, and continue mixing until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 1 hour, until the top of the cake springs back lightly when pressed or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top browns too quickly before the cake is done, drape a piece of foil over it and continue baking.

Cool the cake for at least 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Makes one 9- or 9-1/2-inch cake; 12 servings.

Per serving: 407 calories; 19 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 42 percent calories from fat); 56 g carbohydrates; 41 g sugar; 35 mg cholesterol; 232 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber.

KATE

LAWSON

Kate Lawson is on medical leave and will return after the holidays. Meanwhile, please enjoy one of her favorite recipes from over the years:

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