arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake  | A Brown Table

So it’s that time of the year when I pull the ginger out and make my favorite cake, the indomitable gingerbread cake. It’s one of the few cakes, I look forward to making each year and every year, I try to do something different with it. This year’s version is full of fruity flavors and spice from some expected and unexpected sources. 

The inspiration from the flavors in this cake came from my trip to Sacramento when I visited the California Olive Ranch  and learned about the different types of olive oil (and see the oil being made in action). The Arbequina variety not only comes with a bright green color but also has one of the fruitiest flavors which pairs really well with the spices in this cake. Brown rice miso is caramel colored salty fermented paste made from rice as the name suggests while mirin is a sweet rice wine, both of these ingredients are used often as seasoning agents in Japanese cooking and in this gingerbread cake, they do just that. And since, miso is rather salty to start with, there’s no need for the addition of extra salt to this cake batter. 

Since it is the holiday season, I’ve made a few marzipan Christmas trees to put on top of the cake and you can make some snow with a dusting of a little confectioner’s sugar. Since there’s no snow where we live, I had to bring it to us!

arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake  | A Brown Table

arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake  | A Brown Table

arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake  | A Brown Table

arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake  | A Brown Table

arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake  | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this cake;

  • If you can’t find moscovado use dark brown or light brown sugar. Jaggery is another great option.
  • Arbequina is one of the best olive oils to use in dessert because it has a natural fruity flavor and in this cake, it makes a big difference. However, if you can’t find arbequina, try to a fruity extra-virgin olive oil.

How to make Marzipan Christmas trees 🌲🌲🌲 and now you can too.

A video posted by Nik Sharma (@abrowntable) on

arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake  

yields: one round 9 inch cake


a little unsalted butter to grease the cake pan

2 cups (311g) whole-wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 large eggs, chilled

3/4 cup Arbequina olive oil from California Olive Ranch

3/4 cup (177ml) dark molasses

1/2 cup (135g) packed moscovado sugar

4 tablespoons brown rice miso

1/4 cup (60ml) mirin

1 cup (240ml) plain full-fat greek yogurt

150g marzipan

green food coloring (optional)

1/4 cup (31g) confectioner’s sugar

1. Line and grease a round 9 inch cake pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to size and a little butter. Place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 350F. Dry whisk all the dry ingredients from the flour to the cloves in a large mixing bowl and keep aside. 

2. Attach the whisk attachment to the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the eggs, olive oil, molasses, moscovado sugar and miso. Whisk on medium-high speed until creamy for about 4 to 5 minutes. Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle, reduce the speed to medium-low and add in half of the whisked dry ingredients . Whisk on low speed until combined. Then add in the mirin and the yogurt along with the remaining flour and whisk until combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl using a silicone spatula to make sure there are no visible flecks of flour. Transfer the cake batter to the prepare cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 55 to 60 minutes. The cake will done when it is firm and spongy to touch at the center and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center. Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to release it and cool on a wire rack. 

3. Decorate the cake with the marzipan Christmas trees (See Video Here on how to prepare). Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar as needed. 

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by California Olive Ranch. However, all opinions expressed are solely my own. 


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