1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch each of ground black pepper, ground clove, ground fennel, ground nutmeg, and ground star anise
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons crystallized ginger baking chips, divided
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup firmly-packed golden-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup nonfat milk (or buttermilk)
2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt (or sour cream)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (or Nordicware gingerbread loaf pan) with a non-stick baking spray. Using some light brown sugar (or plain granulated sugar), dust the bottom and all sides of the pan, leaving a thin coating of the sugar.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, pepper, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, star anise, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix in 3 tablespoons of crystallized ginger baking chips; set aside.
Using an electric mixer with a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well mixed. Add the vanilla extract and the fresh ginger. Slowly mix in 1/2 of the flour/spice mixture; then add milk and yogurt. Add the remaining 1/2 of the flour/spice mixture; blend just until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of crystallized ginger over the top surface of the batter, pressing the ginger lightly into the batter.
Bake approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let pan cool on a wire rack for ten minutes, and then turn cake out out of the loaf pan onto the wire rack to cool completely. When completely cool, using a fine mesh strainer, dust the top lightly with confectioners (powdered) sugar.
If desired, garnish with whipped cream and seasonal berries.
Makes 1 loaf.
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Ellen Easton, author of Afternoon Tea~Tips, Terms and Traditions (RED WAGON PRESS), a lifestyle and etiquette industry leader, keynote speaker and product spokesperson, is a hospitality, design, and retail consultant whose clients have included The Waldorf=Astoria and Plaza Hotels. Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated teas estates on the island.
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