ELEGANT GINGERBREAD CAKE with LEMON BUTTER CREAM ICING

[ezcol_1third] Since serving up such a saintly gluten-free treat last week, today I can't resist sharing my slightly more sinful pick for your Easter dessert table. This elegant gingerbread cake with tart lemon frosting and fresh raspberries comes courtesy of Canadian pastry chef Anna Olson; it's light but intensely flavourful, moist, and lovely. The combination of warm ginger spices and fresh, sharp fruit is perfect any time of year, so no matter where in the world you are this holiday or what the weather looks like outside, this is an easy 'special occasion' cake to set a joyful mood. (Don't the raspberries look like a little crown of party hats?)

Anna's recipe yields a cake with three layers, but I cut it by two-thirds to make just this one for a recent family fête. If you want to go the whole shebang (and it will be beautiful if you do!) here's how: Make all three layers in identical cake tins, decorate each layer with icing and a ring of  fresh, firm raspberries just as I've done in the photos, then set them atop each other using the raspberries on the bottom and middle layers as a kind of jolly cake stand. The effect is simple but stunning, and incredibly tastes even better than it looks.

ANNA OLSON'S GINGERBREAD CAKE with LEMON BUTTER CREAM ICING RECIPE

2/3 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar 3 large eggs 3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 cup fancy molasses 1/2 cup maple syrup 1 cup ginger beer (or ginger ale) 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Grease 3 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Dust the sides of the pan with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. Whisk together the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, ginger and zest.

3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Add this to the oil mixture and stir until blended (or use electric beaters or a stand mixer).

4. In another bowl, whisk the molasses, maple syrup, ginger beer (or ale), lemon juice and baking soda (this will froth up). Add this to the batter and beat vigorously until smooth – the batter will be very fluid.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cakes for 30 minutes in their tins, then turn out to cool completely.

LEMON BUTTER CREAM ICING

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 3 cups icing sugar, sifted 2 teaspoons lemon zest 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons water 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups fresh raspberries

For the icing, beat the butter with half of the icing sugar and the lemon zest. Add the lemon juice, water and vanilla and beat in. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat well, until the icing is fluffy and spreadable.

To assemble, place one cake layer on a platter and spread the top with a third of the icing. Dot the icing with raspberries

Chill the cake until ready to serve. The cake will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

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Anna Olson elegant gingerbread layer cake Anna Olson elegant gingerbread layer cake Anna Olson elegant gingerbread layer cake

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