Chocolate, Apricot, and Ginger Loaf Cake

Cake au Chocolat, Abricots et Gingembre

On Sunday afternoon, we had a few friends over for the goûter. In attendance were : Marie-Laure and Ludo, with whom we had had brunch earlier in the day ; my friend Sophie, who used to work at my company ; Stéphane and Caro, who are friends from college ; and our neighbors Stéphan and Patricia. To feed this crowd, I wanted to make something chocolate. I know, I know, I surprise myself too, sometimes.

When Pierre Hermé‘s Chocolate Desserts cookbook came out, one of the magazines I read had an article that published four of them : they don’t quote the book word for word, they just give the recipe essentials, which still makes the book worth buying, as Pierre Hermé always gives very detailed instructions. All those recipes looked great, but you have to make choices in life, as hard as they may be. So I set out to make the apricot and ginger chocolate cake.

Language note : in French, the word “cake” (which is pronounced more or less like “kek“) means not just any cake – that would be “gâteau” – but a cake that’s baked in a loaf pan.

Cake au Chocolat, Abricots et Gingembre

– 15 cl milk, at room temperature
– 180 g melted butter, cooled
– 125 g dried apricots
– 70 g bitterswet chocolate, diced
– 55 g crystallized ginger, diced
– 140 g almond paste, diced
– 165 g sugar
– 180 g flour
– 40 g unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 4 large eggs

I’m trying to teach myself organization so first of all I prepared all the things you have to melt or dice or bring to room temperature (i.e. butter, apricots, chocolate, ginger, almond paste and milk). Very professional of me, no?

I turned on the oven to preheat at 180°C (360°F), and buttered a 28 cm (12-inch) loaf pan. I didn’t flour it, but will next time (using cocoa powder to preserve the looks).

I then boiled the apricot dices for a minute in a cup of water, let them rest for a minute, then drained and patted them dry. In a large bowl, I sifted together the flour, chocolate and baking powder.

In the food processor, I mixed the sugar and the almond paste until it looked like coarse sand. I added the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a while between each. I poured in the milk, and mixed again. I then added the chocolate flour mixture, and mixed until just combined.

I poured this back into the large bowl, folded in the apricot, ginger and chocolate bits, and then the melted butter. This was poured into the pan, and put into the oven to bake. After an hour like the recipe says, I took it out and it looked really good, but the knife I inserted came out nothing like clean, so I put it back in for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, this caused the top to burn a little on the edges – ugh I hate that – but after that time it was cooked.

I let the pan cool on a rack for 10 minutes, and then tried to unmold it. Boy, it gave me a really hard time, sticking at the bottom and almost breaking in half, but I managed to disciplin it back into shape.

Right before serving, I cut the cake in slices. The little chunks of chocolate, apricot and ginger showed nicely. They had sunk to the bottom somewhat, but they had on the magazine picture too. This cake tastes really good. The almond taste doesn’t really come through, but it certainly contributes to the overall texture. The cake part is nice and moist and chocolaty, and ginger and apricot work particularly well with the chocolate, both for flavor and bite.

Final note : I was in a bookstore today and spotted Pierre Hermé’s cookbook, so I leafed through it and checked out this recipe. Two things : he suggests covering the cake with foil for the last half-hour – I wish the magazine had kept that tip in the recipe. And also, Pierre’s apricot, ginger and chocolate bits are way down the bottom of the cake, so there!

  • Deb

    Oh Clotilde!
    I love the photograph. The cake itself sounds so heavenly. I like the combination of chocolate and ginger alot. A co-worker of mine, who is originally from Poland occasionally brings in these cake-like ginger biscuits that are covered in dark chocolate, so good, but not as good as your cake looks and sounds. Only 10 more weeks then I can indulge again!

  • Hello Clotilde,
    How do the French stay so slender with such good, rich food? I love your site!

  • Deb – what a good idea, ginger snaps dipped in chocolate! I’ll have to try that, I have very good crystallized ginger and I’d love to make ginger cookies with them… Oh, and did you get a chance to look in your Pierre Hermé book what the recipe looked like, and what it was called?

  • Elise – well, uh, not all French people are slender, really! ;) But for those who are, I guess the secret is no secret really : delicious food, sometimes very rich, but eaten with no guilt, in moderation and in excellent company, and not at every meal… But of course I don’t blog about the times when I just eat zucchini, a slice of ham and a yogurt! Would you like me to, though? :)

    BTW, I see you have a blog too, I’ll check it out!

  • ACK, Clotilde–

    This is so beautiful! I absolutely *love* the way the cake curves at the top like that. Oh, it makes my statistics heart zing with happiness. ;) The shape, my friend, is perfect. I think your discipling worked.

  • Deb

    I just looked in the Greenspan/Herme book and I’m happy to report that your cake slices look EXACTLY like Herme’s cake slices from the book! Everything sank to the bottom on his too. The cake is called “Apricot and Ginger Chocolate Cake” and the only difference I see from yours is that the Herme cake has some apricots on top as garnish.

  • Hi Clotilde,

    the cake looks delicious. And great colour too. Just wandering: which kind of bittersweet chocolate did you use?
    BTW after reading this I just have to add Herme’s book to my Xmas presents list!

  • chocolat! wah!

    gives me headaches though. :( but, i sneak one or two sometimes. :)

  • Blue – thanks! I like the pic too! I agonized over which one to use though, it’s always a tricky moment in my blogging process! :)

    Deb – thanks for bravely looking in your book even though it must be torture these days, I certainly appreciate it!

    Alberto – I used Valrhona’s baking chocolate “Le Noir Gastronomie” (61%). Now that I think about it, a more bitter chocolate and maybe bigger bits may have been better. Next time!

  • Sonal

    Hi Clotilde,

    This is such a wonderful site!

    I have been eyeing this recipe for some time now and I finally got around to making it. It is fantastic!

    I used Valrhona 71% and it worked out quite well as did the trick of using foil for the last half of baking. The next time I make this I will probably up the marzipan content and/or cut the amount of cocoa to get more of the almond flavor. I might also throw in some sliced almonds. Yum!

  • Suvarie

    Hi.Clotilde….. I’ve visited your site so many times, finally I’d made a perfect cake…. thank you so much for this wonderful site…. I live in Chiangmai, Thailand and luckily that here I can still find some ingredients to make this cake…. it’s came out real nice….. mine, an apricot and ginger not sink to the bottom though, it came out real nice, not to mention the taste, yum!!! but I have to admited that I reduced sugar to 150g…. anyway… this is a great great site… thank you so much.

  • Miss Piggott

    This cake was so good!
    I was afraid of the ginger flavour so I put less than the recipe called for, but next time I will do as it is written…
    Incredibly, it cooked in 35 minutes! I guess my new oven (this cake was the very first thing I baked with it) is super hot!

  • It looks delicious.

  • Latha

    Hi Clotilde,

    A proud owner of Pierre Herme’s ‘Desserts’ since this morning (it atlast arrived from Amazon!) i started to browse your website for his recipes tried by you! Well the reason is I had a doubt with one of the ingredients. Herme recommends double-baking powder, which I do not know how and where to procure in Germany. Do you think (from your experience) the normal baking powder would do the same job? While I await your expert tip, let me decide which one to try first:) Thanks… Latha

  • Carla

    Dear Clotilde,
    Please tell me do you, or any of you out there know how many fluid ounces “15 cl milk” is? I’m really wanting to make this cake with some of my handmade almond paste. Thank you !

  • Carla – 15 centiliters is equivalent to 5 fluid ounces. Happy baking!

  • Mister choc

    Hi Clotilde or anyone, can tinned apricots be used for the cake?

  • Mister choc – I don’t see why not. Just make sure you drain them well and pat them dry with paper towels so they won’t release too much juice. Let us know how it turns out!

  • Lucy

    Hello lovely Clotilde
    I realise this it’s quite late to be commenting on this post – but I was just wondering if marzipan could substitute the almond paste called for here? Or perhaps they are one and the same? I do rather want to try it as a little easter treat ^^

  • Lucy – Yes, marzipan and almond paste are one and the same. The cake should make for a lovely Easter treat; let us know how it turns out!

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