One 9-inch cake

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, additional for buttering pan

½ cup light or dark brown sugar

½ cup light molasses

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2 large eggs

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½teaspoon baking soda

1½ tablespoons ground ginger, or to taste

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons lemon brandy or vanilla extract (see note)

½ cup buttermilk (or milk with a little plain yogurt beaten into it)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and set aside. Cream remaining 4 ounces butter with the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy, add molasses, then beat in eggs.

2. Add flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

3. Add lemon brandy or vanilla extract and buttermilk and turn batter into pan.

4. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (check after 20 minutes). Cool on a rack.

Lemon brandy is hard to find, but recipes for homemade lemon brandy can be found online and in cookbooks. Do not use lemon extract.

— Adapted by The New York Times from “Home Cooking” by Laurie Colwin