Although mostly lacking in any excessive indulgence in Christmas traditions, there is one I adhere to with enthusiasm. Ginger cake.
Christmas without ginger cake would be like a Chinese Buffet without the lime jello, or a parade without the clowns that shovel horse manure, or a junior high band concert without the headache, or the history of cars without the American Motors Gremlin, or a visit to a fortune-teller without hearing about a tall, dark stranger, or a visit to Cache Creek without stopping at Hungry Herbie’s, or a “Top 100 Hits of All Time,” without something by Bobby Curtola.
You can only make it at Christmas. There are eleven months in which ginger cake is just wrong. Equally wrong is a stretch of December in which tea or coffee is not accompanied with a generous wedge of ginger cake.
I realize that ginger cake may strike many as an idiosyncratic Christmas tradition. But give it a try, and there’s a chance you’ll be hooked. Your Christmas tree will be relegated to a position of secondary importance during seasonal preparations while you follow this recipe:
Christmas Ginger Cake
4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Tablespoon of ginger powder
2 cups of Thompson Seedless raisins
3 Tablespoons of finely chopped preserved ginger (Dalton’s brand is good)
1 1/2 cups of butter
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups white sugar
11” circular coffee cake pan
What to do:
1. Heat in a saucepan to a boil the butter, molasses and sugar.
2. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl.
3. Add heated stuff to the dry ingredients, then stir in the eggs one at a time, stirring rapidly and making sure each egg is fully mixed in before adding the next one.
4. Pour into a greased, floured coffee cake pan. (You may also want to cut out a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom.)
5. Bake for approximately 1 hour at 325 F. It’s done when a chopstick comes out clean.
6. Let it cool for about half an hour. Then, run a knife around the edge of the pan to make sure it’s not sticking. Invert onto a cooling rack.
7. Indulge. Feel Christmasy. Know that you have created the ultimate in Christmas traditions. Had he ever tasted this ginger cake, even Scrooge would be Unscrooged.