Sorghum Spice Cake

sorghumcake1One of my friends gave me a gift box from the Loveless Cafe (in Nashville, TN) for Christmas. The box included, among other things, a dessert cookbook from the restaurant and a jar of sorghum. I saw a recipe in the cookbook for a sorghum spice cake and thought, “Well, we know what the sorghum is going to be used for…” In case you’re wondering, sorghum is similar to molasses, but lighter in both flavor and color; it’s somewhere between molasses and a dark honey. Combined with the spices in the cake here, it makes something very close to gingerbread, yet noticeably different because the deepest notes of the molasses are missing, and instead there is more… warmth? I haven’t figured out how to describe it. You should probably just make the cake for yourself.

Sorghum is somewhere between honey and molasses in terms of flavor, color, and consistency.

Sorghum is somewhere between honey and molasses in terms of flavor, color, and consistency.

This cake is easy to mix because it’s basically a quick bread. Being in a Bundt pan, however, it needs to bake for a long time. That said, it may not need the whole 50 minutes:  mine turned out a bit dry. (This could have been the oven I was using; it’s hard to say based on just one data point.) Also, I’ve listed the spice measurements here just as they are listed in the book, but honestly, I tend to round up when it comes to baking spices, especially when the original is something like “three-quarters of a teaspoon” or “two and one quarter teaspoons.” Just use the one-teaspoon measuring spoon and eyeball it. Finally, I changed the order for mixing ingredients slightly, just because I think it makes more sense to mix all dry ingredients together before adding them to wet, but if you want to save washing a bowl, the original directions instructed you to mix sugar plus the wet ingredients first, and then sift all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, spices) into the same bowl, then fold them in. Take your pick–it shouldn’t noticeably affect the outcome.

Sorghum Spice Cake
Ingredients
3 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 tsp ground ginger
2¼ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp cardamom
¾ tsp cloves
¾ tsp nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1 C packed dark brown sugar
1 C canola oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1 C sorghum
3 eggs
½ C buttermilk
Lemon Glaze:  3 C powdered sugar, 6 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp grated lemon zest

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan or plain tube pan.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices (ginger through nutmeg). Add salt. Make sure everything is evenly distributed. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, measure out brown sugar and break up any hard lumps with your fingers. Whisk in the oil, sorghum, eggs, and buttermilk.

4. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet, folding until everything is evenly mixed.

5. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 50-55 minutes (again, mine was dry after 50 min so you might try less), until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. While the cake is baking, make the lemon glaze by putting all three ingredients together in a small bowl and mixing with a whisk or spoon. You can adjust the sugar or lemon juice according to desired sweetness and consistency. Don’t mix it up too far ahead of time, though, because the icing will start to set up.

7. When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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9. Finally, drizzle on the lemon glaze. A couple notes:  First, the cooler the cake is, the easier it will be to glaze, but this is the kind of cake that is really good warm, so… your call on how long you want to wait. I glazed my cake while the cake was still warm to the touch, but not so warm that I couldn’t easily pick it up with my bare hands to move it to a plate.
Second, most of the glaze will drip off. I left the cake on the wire rack and put a plate under it to catch the excess icing (see photo below), then poured it back over the top. I did this twice before moving the cake to my cake stand and pouring the remaining icing over it a third time. That way, at least a little bit more icing stuck to the cake each time.

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