Haitian Ginger Cake (Bonbon Siwo), Birthdays, and a Break

As many of you may have noticed, we at the Hungry Hounds took a long break over the holidays from posting. Of course, that didn't mean a pause in cooking and eating, just a pause in posts while we relaxed with family, enjoyed time with our kids, and caught back up on work. This week our Madeline turns two, and last month Gideon passed the six-month mark. Gideon is (finally) mostly sleeping through the night, and Madeline is getting more and more fascinating as her vocabulary grows and she is able to share what she's thinking. Last week when we mentioned her upcoming birthday she asked us if "Maybe...maybe...I can eat cake....that'd be DEEEELicious!" Well cake you shall have, Madeline! We will be making her this subtly sweet Haitian classic ginger cake, Bonbon Siwo. It is a warmly spiced Haitian gingerbread cake that is dark and dense with coconut milk and blackstrap molasses, and boldly flavored with fresh ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

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Yield: serves 4


  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (can substitute regular molasses for a sweeter, lighter cake)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Heat the oven to 350. Grease a 9” x 5” bread loaf pan.

  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar, using a hand or stand mixer, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add 1/4 cup flour and continue beating it until smooth. Once the flour is mixed in, add the eggs, coconut milk, molasses, ginger, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Note that this will be a very liquid mixture at this point, and may look like it is beginning to separate. Don’t worry, it will come together when the additional dry ingredients are added.

  3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (the remaining 1 ¾ cup flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves).

  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir just enough to smooth out any lumps. Pour the batter into the greased bread pan, and bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes.

  5. Test the cake for doneness using a toothpick or knife, if it emerges clean the cake is done. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for 5 minutes prior to removing from the pan. Allow the cake to fully cool before cutting and serving. Traditionally this would be served in squares. We like to eat Bonbon siwo dusted with powdered sugar.