Chocolate Clementine Spice Cake

Makes one 9-inch layer cake

Music Pairing: Blue Skies by Ella Fitzgerald

First note—I didn’t realize my metric measurement for the ginger was in my noteboook at home until I was already in Paris. I want to say it was 9 grams but will double check and add it into the recipe once we return.

Now that we have that technical business out of the way, this is seriously one of the easiest and fastest homemade cakes you’ll ever bake. It quickly became my favorite cake this holiday season, and honestly I intend to make it way beyond the month of December. The ingredient list is lengthy, but that’s about as complicated as this recipe gets. This is where I highly recommend baking by weight—in addition to producing exact results each time, weighing is much quicker than measuring out with cups and spoons.

Another bonus is that it’s dairy-free. The cake is based on this recipe I created three years ago. I must confess I like this version even more than the original. The shortening lends an incredibly light touch to the cake. When served warm, it really needs no further adornment. If you decide to make it in advance, a dusting of confectioners’ sugar is lovely, and a dollop of fresh whipped cream is brilliant.

1 1/2 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (25 grams) cocoa powder, plus more for coating pan

2 teaspoons (11 grams) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea salt

2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Freshly grated zest of two clementines (or the zest of 1 orange)

8 tablespoons (112 grams) vegetable shortening, softened (I use this one)

1 cup (200 grams) granulated natural cane sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup (87 grams) dark molasses (I love Steen’s)

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/2 cup (125 ml) almond milk

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle some cocoa powder in the pan and swirl around until the sides and bottom are coated (tapping out the pan over the sink to remove any excess cocoa); set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, spices and zest. Whisk to mix well; set aside.

Combine the sugar and shortening in a deep bowl and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until it forms a thick batter, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and extract, and beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and almond milk. Mix on low speed until just incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix on medium-high speed for 30 seconds more.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool two minutes in pan, then loosen the springform ring. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar when completely cooled, if desired.