Scallion+Ginger Cake, version 2

But first, a few words about my favorite person in the world, Philbert Dy. He’s more than just my most-trusted taste tester; he’s my constant baking experiment partner. This is only one of the recipes that we came up with together. And when I first made mention of maybe, possibly getting into baking, it was merely a passing thought. Left on my own, I might have been too lazy to actually get started. But he got me a pie tin, an oven thermometer and a bunch of baking bibles and gave no shortage of encouragement. All a ploy to get free pie and cake? Maybe. But I am thankful nevertheless.

Most people might know him from his work as a film critic. He’s the guy who watches bad movies so we don’t have to. But no matter how many bad movies he’s had to sit through, I still don’t know anyone as willing to like things. He still comes into every movie hoping that it will have something that will surprise him. I worry sometimes. I wonder how long he can keep it up, how many Adam Sandler movies or direct-to-DVD movies that inexplicably make it into our local theaters it will take to break him and get him to start hating everything on principle. But he’s held out for so long that I’m starting to think it’s just the way he is. Of course, when he does find a movie he really loves, he will happily become its champion. I think this is what has made him a force for good for local cinema.

And in case you haven’t seen it yet, here is a picture of Philbert, conducting a fast-food spaghetti taste-off while wearing a shirt that says “Everything is Awesome”. It is my favorite picture of all time. For obvious reasons.

Philbert had one of those birthdays this weekend, and I gladly dedicate this and all future versions of the scallion+ginger cake to him. And beyond this and all future birthdays to come, I gladly celebrate all the days he is alive and in the world.

Now let’s talk about cake. Version two is less sweet, even with the syrup, but that’s okay because the added orange gives it a fruitier flavor. There are even more scallions in this one, but they were blanched before being put in the cake and cooked in the syrup, and it concentrates that light onion flavor as well as brings out more of their natural sweetness. The crumb is lighter and more tender this time and more golden brown (thanks to the brown sugar). The syrup is well-spiced and fruity, but we do miss the scallion sugar from version one; its slight crunch and its pretty green glisten.

The next thing to work on for version three is to add more textural components. Maybe a crunchy candied ginger topping?

For the cake:
2 sticks / 1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 large eggs
3 tbsps freshly grated ginger
4 tbsps blanched and roughly chopped scallions
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tbsps orange zest
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract

For the syrup:
1 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup peeled and sliced ginger
4 tbsps finely chopped scallions
3 tbsps orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 163°C/325°F. Grease and flour two 8×2 inch cake pans. Line with parchment.

In one bowl, combine and whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.

Combine yogurt, orange juice, zest and blanched scallions in a blender. Blend well. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugars and the grated ginger. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored.

Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 1 minute after all eggs have been added. Add the vanilla and orange extracts.

Add flour mixture and yogurt mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan for at least ten minutes.

Make the syrup. Place ginger along with water, juice, honey, salt and spices in a saucepan. Heat to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add zest, scallions and extract. Stir well. Set aside to cool slightly or until ready to use. Syrup wil jeep for at least two weeks in the refrigerator.

Put it together. Use a toothpick, knife or fork to poke little holes into your cakes. Carefully drizzle and brush the syrup over the tops. Let the cakes sit and soak another 10 minutes. Unmold from pans and serve.

Have some cake! Drizzle a bit more of that syrup, if you like.


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