Ari’s Pick: Gingerbread Cake

A wonderfully sweet way to stay cozy through winter

Gingerbread Cake is one of my all-time favorite desserts from the Bakehouse! Apparently, I’m not alone. Amy Emberling, managing partner of the Bakehouse shared,

“This cake was the catalyst for the most passionate disappointment expressed about a single recipe that was not included in our Zingerman’s Bakehouse book. The cake clearly has a dedicated following for its deep and satisfying flavors along with its moist texture contrasting with the crispy, sugary exterior. The response inspired me to bring one home for our personal holiday celebrations and it was the biggest hit of all the choices. Family members literally couldn’t resist going back for more. It was fun to watch. If we do another Bakehouse book, I promise the recipe will be in it.”

overhead view of a gingerbread coffee cake with red berries

Amy explained, “the process for making gingerbread is quite simple. It’s a one-bowl, quick-cake. What makes ours particularly good I think is the combination of ingredients that add many layers to the flavor—freshly brewed Zingerman’s Coffee Company coffee, hot mustard, Indonesian long pepper, crystallized ginger, and orange juice. It actually takes more time to measure all of the ingredients than it does to make the cake!” Add in lots of butter, flour, and fresh eggs. They all come together to make a dark, scrumptious, magnificently gingery flavor that seems to appeal to almost all ages and taste preferences.

Where did the cake come from? Amy shared,

“We started making this Gingerbread Cake when I realized that it was one of the last items I regularly made at home for my family because we didn’t make it at the bakery. Warm gingerbread with homemade whipped cream was part of our winter menu, mostly on Sundays when we were all at home lazing around, doing homework, folding laundry, and watching football. We’d make cozy food on those cold winter Sundays, things like roast chicken or beef stew. Warm gingerbread was a perfect accompaniment. It seemed to me that other people might also enjoy this winter ritual, so we decided to create one at the bakery.”

Like I said, I love it. I’m glad Amy decided to share her recipe with the rest of us. I’m not alone—Roseanne Pereira of National Public Radio said, “Zingerman’s has created a ginger cake that vanished off our meeting table as soon as it was put out.” The cake gets this thin sheen of a sugar crust on the outside—sort of like that very first bit of ice crystals that start to form on the lakes early in the autumn (be sure to let the cake rest for about 20-30 minutes after you open its plastic package). It ships well, too—a very good gift for a friend, relative, or business connection you’d like to impress.

overhead view of a gingerbread coffee cake with red berries and whipped cream

The Gingerbread Cake is great on its own any time of the day or with vanilla gelato from the Creamery. Or as Amy said, with homemade whipped cream. And if you want to have fun, put a twist of freshly ground Tellicherry pepper atop the whipped cream—the spice of the pepper bonds with the ginger through the medium of the mellow whipped cream in the middle! It’s perfect for breakfast with a hot cup of coffee.


  • Pick up your gingerbread cake at the BakeshopDeli, and Roadhouse,
  • Or send one to someone you love!
  • Looking for a really good gift for someone who might like this cake as much as I do? There’s a club for that!
Ari headshot
Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's | + posts

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.

Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.

One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.

Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.

Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!

Leave a Reply

Notify of