Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and lightly flour a 7-cup loaf pan or a square 9-by-9-by-3-inch cake pan. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the grated ginger and beat well for 15 seconds. Add the eggs, one at a time one, beating well after each addition.
In a small bowl, whisk together the molasses and buttermilk. Add the flour and molasses mixtures to the butter mixture in two parts, beating after each addition until the ingredients are just combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cake and cool completely.
Whip the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, if using, and vanilla, until softly mounded. Place a dollop on top of each serving of cake.
For this recipe, avoid using a dark-colored pan. It browns the sides and bottom of the cake too much.
Fresh-Ginger Gingerbread with Soft Cream Recipe © 2003 Maria Helm Sinskey. Photo © 2003 Emily Sandor. All rights reserved