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Paul Cézanne tribute: chocolate ginger cake with simmered oranges

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Museum of Modern Art, New York City

(Read caption) Paul Cézanne, 'Still Life with Ginger Jar, Sugar Bowl, and Oranges,' 1902-06.

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A baker I am not. I am not diligent with measurements – often adding a bit too much of this and not enough of that. With that being said, I am pleased when a recipe just works, especially with my unmeasured prodding. We had very special guests visiting this weekend and I was able to accrue other opinions re: the deliciousness of this cake. It is moist and decadent with the sweet/sour of the simmered oranges cutting through the richness of the chocolate and molasses. The fresh ginger pops and is mirrored by the ground ginger in the batter. Believe me, it is highly addictive and if possible, best enjoyed on a picnic with a cup of strong coffee and a view like this.

Cézanne’s Still Life with Ginger Jar, Sugar Bowl, and Oranges was painted during a period of turmoil in his personal life and completed in the year of his death, 1906. After an estrangement from his wife, Cézanne purchased a property in Aix-en-Provence where he built a studio and most likely completed this painting. The work from this late period is characterised by a richness of colour and depth. The skilled compositions are an attempt to return to classic modes of representation and the forms attain a sculptural quality with thick black outlines delineating shape and shadow. During this time he focused his attention on the landscape and painted Mt. Ste. Victoire multiple times after climbing it in 1895. It is thought that the sharp peaks of the mountain found their way into the folds of the tablecloth in his later still life paintings.

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