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Lemon ginger coffeecake

I’ve had two asian pears sitting in my fruit bowl for over a month. Every week they would get softer and softer as I tossed in another load of avocados or bananas that caused them to ripen at great speed. It was finally now or never, use the pears or toss them.

I decided to use them up in a coffeecake. I have been craving coffeecake. It’s the crumbs I was after, really. Just give me a big bowl of coffeecake crumbs and a spoon, I’ll entertain myself from there.

Lemon ginger coffeecake

Well, I absolutely wrecked my kitchen making an asian pear coffeecake, only for it to turn out not so great. The flavor of the cake (and the crumbs!) was spectacular, but the pears were nigh undetectable and they were so watery that the center of the cake refused to finish cooking no matter how long I left the thing in the oven. It was time to start over.

“So pears are out, what else have I got?” Lemons, now there’s an idea! Oooo! And ginger!

And so it was born. And WOW is it good.

Lemon ginger coffeecake

The cake is dense and buttery. The flavor of the lemons and ginger is subtle, more aromatic, less tart and spicy. The crumbs are crisp and golden and are a delightful texture contrast against the soft cake. I dusted mine with a pretty snowfall of powdered sugar, but they are just dandy without.

This is the kind of cake you expect to eat with a rich cup of coffee (it is a coffeecake after all,) but the gentle summery flavors would pair just as well with a light cup of tea, even a tall glass of iced tea with a squeeze of lemon. It’s a great breakfast pastry for segueing into the warmer months.

Lemon ginger coffeecake

This buttery rich coffeecake is lightly scented with the aromas of fresh ginger and zesty lemon. A perfect pastry for warm weather breakfasts or afternoon tea.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 9 to 12


  • For the crumb topping:
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. dry ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • *** ***
  • For the cake:
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1 heaping tbsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • the zest of one lemon

Cooking Directions

  1. Start with the crumb topping: Mix all ingredients except for the butter together in a stand mixer on low speed, then pour in the melted butter and mix until fully incorporated. Set aside for later.
  2. For the cake: Cream together softened butter and sugar until light in color, then add eggs one at a time, then yogurt mixed on low speed.
  3. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add the lemon juice, zest, and grated ginger. Mix through.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add to wet in three stages, mixing in between each.
  5. Pour batter into a buttered and floured 9-inch square baking dish. Dish should be deep.
  6. Top with crumbs and bake at 350F degrees for 1 hour. Cover the top loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil with a few holes poked in it and continue baking for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, this will allow the center of the cake to finish cooking without the crumbs burning.
  7. Allow to cool completely in the baking dish before serving. Store covered in plastic wrap.

I don’t know about you, but I like a coffeecake that is piled high with crumbs. The crumbs are the whole point, in my opinion. So if you start making this recipe and it looks like you’ve made an absolutely absurd amount of crumbs, don’t second-guess it. Just go with it. Pile all of them on and thank me later.

Lemon ginger coffeecake

Craving satisfied.

Do you love lemon desserts as much as I do?



Broiled grapefruit with ginger sugar

Ok, I need a break from talking about the book for a while. I’m sure you guys are ready for something new too. 😉

Who’s ready for spring?!! I don’t know about you guys but I am counting down the days until short sleeves, sunny walks, and refreshing warm-weather fruits. I’m craving berries. Every time I go to the farmer’s market and pass the table packed with those little green plastic cartons overflowing with plump red strawberries, I have to force myself to keep walking and not fall for their ruse. It is not berry season. Those strawberries will be watery and sour and unsatisfying.

Right now I’m combatting this need for refreshing fruit flavors with the last of winter’s citrus. I just annihilated an entire red grapefruit with lunch, sliced into wedges like an orange, making little smiles of rind as I chomp down on each one. I never eat grapefruit like that for some reason. I always see grapefruit served so preciously, either sliced into thin naked supremes on top of a fragile salad, or as I’ve chosen to serve it in the recipe I’m sharing with you today – broiled with a sugary crust, each shining bite precisely carved out with a sharp little spoon.

sliced grapefruit

But you guys know I can’t just broil a grapefruit and be done with it, right? I’ve gotta find a way to insert one of my favorite asian flavors in there somehow. This is a common springboard for me as far as recipe creation goes – I take an already delicious food and make it marvelous with a fun new flavor.

This time, I’ve used spicy grated ginger to balance with the sweet sugar and bitter grapefruit. I debated for a long time wether or not to feature ginger as one of the highlighted ingredients in The Japanese Pantry, and ultimately decided to let it play a supporting role instead. It certainly shines in this recipe though.

ginger sugar

I loved the smell of the ginger sugar as I was making this. The fresh wetness of the grated ginger soaked right into the sugar, lightly dissolving it into the texture of wet sand. It makes a grainy slushing sound as it mixes together, like the sound of walking through melting snow.

ginger sugar

I ended up broiling this in a toaster oven. I tried it once before in a regular oven and the fruit was too far from the heating element, it just kind of melted rather than caramelizing. This time though, the toaster oven crisped the topping up nicely and just barely browned the edges. I love how the fruit blisters in the heat and bulges up out of the rind. The ginger flavor was definitely present but not at all overpowering.

Broiled grapefruit with ginger sugar

I must confess though, that even with this typically “precious” presentation, it was not eaten daintily. I hacked it up with my blunt little spoon before turning it inside out and biting the rest off in big chunks until only a ragged pithy peel was left. It definitely satisfied my desire for summery flavors. I see myself having this bright little breakfast weekly until my beloved berries are finally ready.


Broiled grapefruit with ginger sugar

Gingery sugar encrusts juicy bitter grapefruit for a sweet and lightly spicy treat.

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 1 medium red grapefruit
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger

Cooking Directions

  1. Slice grapefruit in half, remove any large seeds, and place cut side up on a heat safe dish or tray lined with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together ginger and sugar until it is the texture of wet sand.
  3. Top each grapefruit half with half of the sugar mixture and pat with the back of a spoon to spread it out to the edges.
  4. Toast in a toaster oven for 12 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. (The toast setting on my toaster oven only goes up to 6 minutes, so I just left it in for 2 cycles.)


Are there any spring and summer foods you’re desperately craving?



Bar Exam: Gnu Flavor & Fiber lemon ginger bar

I LOVE ginger. I love it in soup, in tea, in applesauce, in ice cream, pickled, raw, any way you can dream it I will love it.

So when I was shopping for bars to review on the site and I came across this lemon ginger Flavor & Fiber bar by Gnu Foods, I was like “Oooo! That’s definitely for me!” In the excitement of finding such a zesty flavor that so perfectly tingled my tastebuds, I failed to realize that this was a bar being marketed as a regularity helper. Oh well. I really just do not get how trendy fiber is right now, but if the bar tastes good then I guess I don’t care.

Gnu Flavor & Fiber lemon ginger bar

This is certainly the best-looking ingredient list out of the bars I’ve reviewed so far. Lots of fibery stuff followed by some fruits and of course ginger. I got a little worried that with ginger so low on the list that it might not taste very gingery after all.

It has 130 calories, so it won’t hold off your hunger for too long. With only 10 grams of sugar and all of it coming from fruit sources, this bar is definitely a good choice for a snack and doesn’t edge into the “dessert replacement” category. Since this bar is touting itself as a fiber source, I’ll tell you that it has 12 grams of the stuff.

Gnu bar ingredients

The bar is definitely a substantial size, no misleading packaging here.

unwrapped Gnu lemon ginger bar

Appearance: Nice golden brown color and plenty of visible textural stuffs. The flax and millet grains are in-your-face and the ingredients look pretty evenly distributed overall. Smells heavily of spicy ginger with a mellow rather than sour lemon aroma.

Gnu lemon ginger bar close-up

Taste: Any fears I had that this would not be gingery enough were cast away at first bite! It had a very fresh and real ginger flavor, not fake or faint. It was mildly tingly and warming and with the hint of zesty citrus it really reminded me of a hot cup of ginger-lemon tea with honey. So, so tasty.

Texture: Lightly chewy with firm whole oats and lots of tiny seeds that pop in the mouth without being hard or crunchy. Very enjoyable.

Gnu lemon ginger bar bite

Overall I really enjoyed this rather unusual bar. I think it’s a great break from all the same ole flavors you see everywhere like peanut butter or apple cinnamon. I really feel like a lot of people would pass this up if they’re not looking exclusively for a fiber supplement, which is a shame because it doesn’t taste “fibery” at all. This one might become a repeat for me. :)

Are you a ginger fan?