As soon as the weather turns autumnal my thoughts turn to ginger cake – it’s perfect comfort food. Not much beats a big chunk of warming, sticky, dark ginger cake and a mug of tea – all’s right with the world! Here’s the cake straight from the oven:
For such a strong flavour, ginger appears to be universally popular. Is there anyone who doesn’t like ginger cake? This ginger cake is for those who like it spicy and sticky. The large amounts of dark brown sugar and black treacle counter each other so it’s not an overly sweet cake but is dark and squidgy. I think you can see that from the un-iced cake:
To add some more flavour and ensure the sponge was mega-moist I brushed some of the ginger syrup from the jar of stem ginger over the top of the hot cake – it’s an adaptation of lemon cake recipes where you brush sweetened lemon juice over the hot cake. It worked very well.
Even the icing packs some spice as it uses the syrup from the stem ginger jar rather than water or milk. The original recipe drizzled the icing – somewhat sparingly - over the cake, in the style of a Jackson Pollock painting. When I communicated this to the CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) she fell silent and then said, “but I like thick icing.” Dutiful daughter that I am I trebled the quantity of icing and covered the cake! I do have to agree with her; if a cake is iced and you can see any of the top of the cake through the icing I feel deprived!
The CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) rather stunned us all as he ate this cake. Let’s just say that he doesn’t often amaze us with his palate or the flavours he detects in things (example of a standard comment made by the CCD – “What’s the goo on top? I like that). Today he said, “I love the treacle taste that comes through.” And we all looked at him...mouths agape!
I think using allspice rather than mixed spice was an interesting addition to this cake – it’s innate pepperiness added some punch. In terms of flavour I’d say this is an “entry level” ginger cake, for those just dipping their tastebuds into the world of spice! Next time I make it I will stoke it up a bit more with the ground ginger.
For the cake:
250g unsalted butter
250g dark brown muscovado sugar
250g black treacle
100g stem ginger from a jar, finely chopped
375g plain flour (I used self raising in error but it didn’t seem to make much difference, in fact it might even have been better as the cake didn’t sink on cooling, which is something ginger cakes can be prone to)
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp ground ginger
Ginger syrup from the jar for brushing on the hot cake
For the icing:
3 tablespoons ginger syrup from the jar
300g icing sugar
Water, as necessary
Preheat oven to 160˚C/fan oven 140˚C/320˚F/gas mark 3.
Line either a 23cm square tin or a 30x20cm tin with baking paper. Don’t be tempted to use a smaller tin – this cake rises a lot during baking!
Place the butter, muscovado sugar and treacle into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients have melted and combined.
Stir in the milk then remove the pan from the hob and leave to cool until the mix is just warm, rather than hot.
Beat in the eggs; if you do this while the mix is hot you risk getting scambled eggs.
Place the chopped ginger, flour, bicarbonate of soda, allspice and ginger in a bowl and gradually stir in the contents of the saucepan. I did this in my stand mixer and had the beaters on a slow speed whilst I poured in the wet ingredients.
Pour the batter (it will be runny and also lumpy – because of the chopped ginger) into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour before opening the oven door – this will stop the cake sinking. Test the cake with a skewer – it’s done when the skewer comes out cleanly. Mine took 1 hour 30 minutes in total.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven brush some of the ginger syrup from the jar of stem ginger over it.
Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. Don’t attempt to de-tin the cake until cool as ginger cakes are particularly fragile when first out the oven.
The cake will keep, at this point, for up to a week.
On the day of serving make the icing: beat together the ingredients until smooth and glossy. Add enough water to achieve a thick, glossy icing that will ooze but not drip.
Drizzle or pour over the cake and leave to set. The cake needs nothing to accompany it other than a cup of tea.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.