“Legend” is a word that is bandied about far too often these days if you ask me, but I’m going to use it here and mean it. If you asked most people to name a snooker legend the first name out of their mouth would be Steve Davis.
In terms of someone dominating a sport you’d have to look quite a way to beat Steve Davis. Just read this incredibly potted (ha ha, pun totally intended!) summary of his achievements:
- First player to complete a televised 147 (maximum) break;
- More professional titles than any other player;
- Winner of the World Championship six times in the 1980s;
- World number 1 for seven years running;
- Famously lost the black ball finish in the 1985 World Championship final against Dennis Taylor, which although finishing past midnight had an audience 18.5 million people – still a record for BBC2;
- BBC Sports personality of the year;
- MBE and OBE;
- Top ten hit with Chas & Dave (OK, he might want to forget that one!)
Famous for his ginger hair he gained nicknames such as “The Nugget” and “The Ginger Magician”. My grandmother though, who was a staunch fan, only ever referred to him by one name: Lover Boy. Quite how she came up with this name I do not know, but that was what she ALWAYS called him! Maybe that’s why I decided to write to him; he provided my grandmother with so much entertainment that, even now several years after her death, we still refer to him as Lover Boy (which might freak him out if he ever reads this!)
His calm-under-pressure temperament led him to be called boring, something that he has always played up to despite having a terrific sense of humour. Perhaps it was that sense of humour that led him to choose ginger cake as his favourite fancy!
This ginger cake is something a bit different; it is adapted from a German ginger spice cake recipe and doesn’t contain the usual golden syrup and treacle. This results in a lighter, less sticky texture. It replaces sugar with honey and adds some lightness in the addition of soured cream. I was further intrigued by the use of rye flour...which I couldn’t find anywhere so will have to revisit this when I find some! There’s quite a lot of spice:
I brushed some ginger syrup over the cake as it cooled just to intensify the flavour. This is optional. As with all ginger cakes, the flavours develop over time so try and make a day or two in advance of when you wish to serve it.
For this cake, I made my white icing much thicker than I normally would. I think it was the German influenced recipe which got me thinking about the thick icing on German Christmas gingerbread – often the biscuit will be shaped like a house with thick white icing representing snow on the roof. That’s what I’ve tried to do here and I love it –the icing looks almost cartoony!
For the cake:
125g unsalted butter
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon allspice
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g rye flour – I couldn’t find this in my local shops so used wholemeal flour
150ml soured cream
Optional: 2 tablespoons ginger syrup to brush over the cake when it comes out the oven
For the icing:
100g icing sugar
Enough water or syrup from a stem ginger jar to make a thick icing – add a tablespoon at a time
Generously grease a 20cm bundt tin with butter or, ideally, cake release spray. The recipe I used gave no indication of cake tin size so I used a 23cm tin, which was too big.
Place the butter and honey in a large saucepan (all the other ingredients need to fit in here) and melt together. Leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/ fan oven 150°C/325°F/ Gas mark 3.
Beat the eggs and spices into the butter-honey mixture.
Fold in half of the plain flour, rye flour and baking powder.
Fold in half of the soured cream.
Repeat the folding process until all the ingredients are combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
Bake for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 130°C/ fan oven 110°C/250°F/ Gas mark 1 and bake for approximately a further 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Mine only needed 35 minutes which surprised me as I never thought the cake would cook successfully at such a low temperature.
Leave to cool, still in the tin, on a wire rack. I find ginger cakes rather fragile so usually let them cool in the tin before turning out.
If using, brush the ginger syrup over the cake in the tin, let it seep down the edges too (the cake will have just started to pull away from the tin giving a gap for the syrup!)
When the cake is cool it can be iced: place the icing sugar in a bowl and gradually beat in either water or ginger syrup. Add liquid sparingly as it is easy to make it too runny. I made mine very thick.
Pour the icing over the cake and leave to set.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.Eat.