gingerbread cake

Imperial, in Portland, Ore., serves this gingerbread cake with sticky toffee sauce. Recipe. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times / December 20, 2012)

Dear SOS: We recently had a fabulous dinner at Vitaly Paley's new restaurant, Imperial, in Portland, Ore. Everything was truly amazing. The crowning touch was a gingerbread sticky pudding with cold whipped cream. Is there any way the restaurant would part with the recipe? I would love to make this for our family.

Linda Kirk

Playa del Rey

Dear Linda: It's a gingerbread lover's dream come true. Imperial's rich, dark gingerbread is fragrantly spiced with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and fresh ginger, and doused with homemade toffee sauce fresh out of the oven, making for an extra-moist cake.

Imperial's sticky toffee gingerbread

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus cooling time for the cake

Servings: 12

Note: Adapted from a recipe by pastry chef Michelle Vernier at Imperial in Portland, Ore.

Toffee sauce

5 ounces (1¼ sticks) butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook the butter, sugar and honey to a deep, dark caramel color over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, bring the cream, salt and vanilla to a gentle simmer in a separate saucepan. When the sugar mixture is ready, carefully and slowly whisk in the hot cream (it will bubble, and it could spill over the pan if poured too quickly). Remove from heat and set aside. This makes about 3 cups toffee sauce.

Ginger cake

1 cup porter beer

1 cup molasses

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup apple butter

6 ounces (1½ sticks) melted butter

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 cups (9.5 ounces) flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2/3 cup prepared toffee sauce, plus more for serving

Freshly whipped cream, for serving

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch-square baking pan.

2. In a small, deep, heavy stockpot, bring the porter and molasses to a boil over high heat. Carefully whisk in the baking soda (the mixture will bubble up and could easily bubble over the pan if it is not big enough). Remove from heat and set aside until the mixture settles.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, apple butter, melted butter and grated ginger. Sift in the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, then slowly whisk in the beer/molasses mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Bake until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove the cake and drizzle over two-thirds cup toffee sauce, then return the cake to the oven and bake for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the cake and cool, still in the pan, on a rack for 30 minutes before serving.

5. Serve the warm cake with additional toffee sauce and softly whipped cream.


Each serving (served with a scant 2 tablespoons sauce and without whipped cream): 576 calories; 5 grams protein; 80 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 27 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 121 mg cholesterol; 55 grams sugar; 392 mg sodium.