I first made this Easy Citrus Ginger Loaf cake in April 2012, as part of my particpation in Tuesdays With Dorie. The recipe is adapted from Norman Love’s Lemon Loaf Cake in Baking With Julia. In 2018 I went back to it, updated my recipe a bit and added some new photos. The cake is so simple to make and a perfect afternoon dessert with tea or coffee.
I’ve made this a few times in the intervening years. However, until 2018 I hadn’t stopped long enough to shoot new photos. This time, I only took photos of the final product. I thought about jettisoning all the 2012 photos, but decided to keep a few in the recipe directions to show you what difference a few years of experience and a new camera made. Please don’t laugh too hard at the old ones.
This Easy Citrus Ginger Loaf Cake has much more than going for it than simply being easy (as its name suggests) to make. It has a beautiful, firm texture without requiring the enormous amounts of butter or sugar required for pound cakes. Plus it has a heavenly citrus scent and a slight hint of ginger. And the cake has a melt-in-your mouth quality that has to be tasted to be believed.
The main difference between my version and Norman Love’s is the flavoring. He uses just lemons, or rather lemon zest. I used both lemon and orange zest and added candied or crystallized ginger into the sugar. I think mine has a depth of flavor that takes it up a notch. If you want to preserve my approach but don’t like ginger, add candied lemon, orange, or grapefruit peel. You could even use spiced candied orange peel to give it a little extra zip.
Even if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, you can easily find them in the grocery. I keep cake flour in my pantry, but know that not everyone does. It’s available in boxes near the all-purpose white and well worth purchasing for this recipe in order to get the light yet dense “crumb” that makes this citrus loaf cake so irresistible. the cake calls for a half cup of heavy cream – if you buy a half pint (8 ounces or 1 cup) and don’t want leftovers, just make two cakes and freeze one. As for the candied or crystallized fruit, you can find ginger, lemon or orange in both grocery and specialty stores if you don’t have the time or patience for the homemade version. Candied or cystallized grapefruit is not quite as common. If you’re determined to use it, here’s how to make it yourself.
The loaf cake picture on the Tuesdays With Dorie blog had a beautiful glaze that was not part of the original recipe. I added my own glaze in my original effort, but didn’t glaze my recent version.
- Sifting – You don’t need a sifter. Use a small strainer with fine wire mesh instead or simply whisk dry ingredients together. Serious bakers may scoff at the whisking suggestion, but if you do it enough, it’s an adequate substitute in my book.
- Preventing edges from burning – It is important to check on baking progress even with a well-performing oven and a reliable recipe. Lots of factors (e.g. placement on racks in the oven, room temperature, types of pans) can make a difference in timing and how evenly something bakes. If the edges brown before the center is from done, make a “collar” from 4 pieces of tin foil to cover the edges. That keeps the edges from burning while the center continues to bake. It’s like a pie crust shield, only homemade.
- Glaze – For an easy glaze, mix 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar with a few tablespoons of heavy cream and juice from the orange used earlier for the rind. Start with a small amount of liquid and add more in small amounts, mixing after each addition until you get a dripping-but-not-loose consistency. I began with 1 tablespoon of each (heavy cream and orange juice), then added half tablespoons of each until I got to the right consistency.
Easy Citrus Ginger Loaf Cake
- 1 & 1/3 cups sugar
- 3 -4 tablespoons candied or crystallized ginger, minced
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 pinch salt
- zest from 1 lemon
- zest from 1 navel or similar orange
- 1 & 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 5 & 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan (9-inch by 5-inch) well. Optional if the loaf pan is not non-stick - after buttering, dust with flour and shake out any excess flour
Mix the candied or crystallized ginger into the sugar, preferably with a food processor.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and pinch of salt for about 1-2 minutes, until well blended. Add in the lemon and orange zest.
In a smaller bowl, whisk or sift together the flour and baking powder. Use a sifter or a strainer (so the dry ingredients do not clump) to add the flour/baking powder into the wet ingredients in three portions. Whisk the ingredients together after each addition only until barely combined.
Once the dry ingredients are added in, whisk the heavy cream into the batter. Then gently incorporate the melted and cooled butter, using a rubber spatula rather than the whisk.
Using the spatula, put the matter into the loaf pan and bake for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. The cake should create a significant hump or crown as it bakes. After removing it from the oven, let the cake rest in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then unmold it and continue to let it cool.
Like pound cakes, this citrus loaf cake will actually improve in taste after it rests for a day. It will stay moist for several days, well wrapped, at room temperature. You can also freeze it, well wrapped.
For my earlier Tuesdays With Dorie adventures, see: