16 February 2013

Ginger Cake With Coffee Chocolate Ganache

I'm now three weeks into my research project, and I (perhaps naively) thought I would have made far more progress by now. The first week was a non-starter because the lab is so small that there isn't enough space for the entire research group. I spent most of my time reading enough journal articles to write a review article on the subject, though I did finally get to use an NMR machine (basically the same as the MRI machines they use in hospitals but instead of imaging tissue it gives you a spectrum which indicates the makeup of your molecule). After three and a half years of a chemistry degree, it is quite exciting to finally learn how to run your own spectra rather than leaving your samples out for someone else to run them, as we had to do before.

In my second week I finally got into the lab, though very little happened because it took all day Thursday and half of Friday to distill (boil off into another container, for purification) just 10mL of a chemical. Ridiculous. I also saw the detriments of not doing practical work for almost a year, as I spent most of an afternoon trying to figure out what my compound was before being told by my supervisor that my spectrum's two large peaks were due to grease and the stuff I had tried to dissolve the compound in. I had a bit of a blonde moment and thought it had dissolved when it hadn't. So off to a good start, then.

This week, things started off well, but experienced heartbreak (ok, I might be being a little melodramatic) on Tuesday when my overnight experiment went wrong. The reaction had been left to boil (reflux) overnight, but to stop  the vapours getting away you keep the top of the flask cold using a constant stream of water around the outside. Someone turned the water off after I left, so when I came back the next day and saw what had happened, and that I had to start again, I was a little frustrated. The rest of that day was similarly infuriating, but I'm sure you're all tired of my chemistry talk/already asleep so I won't continue. Wednesday onwards was much more successful, though.

I've been meaning to make a ginger cake for ages now, and last week I finally took the plunge. I skimmed over Nigella's Guinness Gingerbread recipe from Kitchen and Caroline's Sticky Ginger and Guinness Cake from Food, Glorious Food to get an idea of ingredients and quantities, and then sort of made it up as I went along. I am so pleased with this cake: it's moist and sticky but also pleasantly light. The chocolate coffee ganache definitely adds a little decadence.

  • 100g (Approx) Syrup From 1 Jar Stem Ginger
  • 200g Golden Syrup
  • 2 Tsp Grated Ginger
  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 100g Dark Chocolate
  • 50mL Coffee Liqueur
  • Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.
  • Melt the butter, caster sugar and syrups together in a saucepan over a medium heat until they have melted together. Leave to cool slightly.
  • Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the ginger and cinnamon.
  • Beat the eggs into the syrup mixture, then pour into the flour mixture. Fold the flour into the syrup mixture until well combined.
  • Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Break the chocolate into a saucepan and add the coffee liqueur. Melt over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until they have combined. Pour over the cake and leave to set.

This cake satisfies the requirements for two blog challenges. First, We Should Cocoa, started by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele of Chocolate Teapot, but this month hosted by Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes. I'm not sure I've had ginger and chocolate together before, so thank you Jen for giving me the shove I needed to try this!


Secondly, I used coffee liqueur so this is my entry to my own blogging challenge, Baking With Spirit. If this sounds like something you might be interested in taking part in you have until the 28th to enter!



  1. Yummy! I love the look of this cake. Really moist and a beautiful crumb. I bet it was delicious.

  2. I love ginger cake! and I like your twist with coffee chocolate ganache. I'm glad you found my post useful for my sticky ginger cake with ginger fudge icing x

  3. I've had my eye on Nigella's Guinness gingerbread cake for a few years. It's on the "list". :) I would love this cake especially with the Kahlua chocolate ganache. Well done! And, I enjoy the chemistry stories, too. I have a toxicology degree, so it's fun to read about what you're doing in the lab. We were never near that kind of equipment 25 yrs ago when I was in college. Times sure have changed!

    1. Wow, really? To be fair, I'm in the fourth year of my degree and only now am I allowed to use anything other than infra-red and a UV-Vis machine. Good to know I'm not sending everyone to sleep!

  4. Glad to see I've converted you to ginger and chocolate, it really is a wonderful combination and this cake looks delicious and very moist. Thanks for entering into We Should Cocoa

  5. Ooh what a good idea to use ginger syrup in the cake, I really must try that. Your cake looks lovely and topped off by that rather decedent looking ganache I'm sure it is delicious. It was good to be reminded of Baking with Spirit too!!!

    Your lab trials all sound very familiar. CT lost 6 months of his PhD experiments to some machines getting turned off when they shouldn't have been.

    1. Good to know I'm not the only one - though six months sounds incredibly frustrating, I don't envy CT. The ginger syrup definitely helped to intensify the ginger flavour adn increase the moistness of the cake.

  6. Oooo the cake sounds amazing – I love the idea of using the ginger syrup in the cake. Seems that you've been rapidly learning that science never goes to plan! I lost four days of control data the other week because some bright spark switched the tank room lights off over the weekend instead of leaving them on auto timer and my rays ended up spending 48h in the dark… Frustrating! I hope your project is coming together though and you're managing to make good progress :)

    1. Yeah it's definitely not like undergrad labs where if things didn't go smoothly you knew it was your fault! That does sound annoying - I hope the rays didn't suffer too much for it.


Did you try this recipe? Let me know what you think! Comments are always appreciated. Unless they are spam.