Ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. The spicy scent made me smile, and it was only when the cake was cooling that I realized I was making this cake for my son, now in California. It was a favorite of his, and I was missing him . When the cake had cooled, I pulled out the waxed paper and red and white twine, and packaged it up, and sent it off.
Besides the sheer joy of cooking and baking, I'm reminded how the recipes are full of memories and history. This is the recipe for my daughter's first birthday cake. This is the first cookbook I bought with my paycheck. This is the cookbook that fascinated me, heady with herbs and spices I had so little knowledge of. And this particular cake reminds me of my children, sticking their fingers into the batter, crowding my tiny kitchen, inhaling this delicious spice-scented and very old fashioned cake. Thanks always to Craig Claiborne, editor of the New York Times food section and many, many cookbooks, who opened my eyes (and nose), to the world of cloves and cinnamon, thyme and curry, fresh basil and tarragon, before Julia swooped into our world, and long before I knew my way around the kitchen.
Grease an 8x8 pan, or an 8 or 9x2 inch round cake pan
Preheat oven to 350F.
1 T. vinegar ( I used my hot chili vinegar, but any kind is fine)
3/4 c. milk
2 cups King Arthur flour, sifted
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/3 cup canola or other light oil
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
3/4 c. molasses
Add the vinegar to the milk and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices into a large bowl.
In mixer bowl, add the canola oil and sugar, then the egg, and finally, the molasses.
Add the dry ingredients to the oil, egg, molasses mixture along with the by now curdled milk. Stir only until mixed, do not overbeat.
Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cake springs back when gently pressed in the center.
Remove cake to cooling rack until cool, then run a dull knife around the pan and unmold cake to cool further on cooling rack.
Serve alone or with sweetened whipped cream, vanilla bean ice cream, or a dusting of confectioners sugar or sliced strawberries. This cake travels well, as long as you wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper after cooling completely.