I’m a relatively imprecise cook, both in terms of planning and execution. It’s not intentional and from time to time I can be very meticulous but on the whole, I cook or bake when the fancy takes me and I make things up a little bit as I go along.
Often I will find myself sitting at home and suddenly deciding I want to bake, NOW. This is me all over. Impatient, impulsive and almost always hungry. I have no interest in going out to buy ingredients because that will just slow things down, so I search for recipes that I may be able to loosely follow with ingredients I already have in the house.
Admittedly, my cupboards are fairly well stocked with this in mind. I usually have the dry ingredients I need, it’s the fresh ones that let me down. Usually eggs, occasionally butter. There is not much you can bake without dairy – although I have managed to come up with a few ideas. Rocky road anyone?
When the urge recently took me I stumbled across a Nigel Slater recipe for ginger cake and was delighted to establish that I had all of the ingredients! It turned out to be an absolute corker of a recipe, although my impatience meant that all of my fruit sunk to the bottom of the cake but I will rectify that next time.
The real bonus of this cake is that you are actually making two entirely different treats. First off you have a light, warm sponge pudding to serve fresh out of the oven with cream. Perfect when you are cooking a big Sunday Lunch for friends or family. Then, wrap the leftovers in tin foil and a couple of days later it will turn into a dense, sticky, rich ginger cake – the perfect afternoon treat.
I really can’t recommend this recipe enough!
Here is the recipe, taken from the guardian website. It serves 8 – 10 people.
250g self-raising flour
2 level tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
200g golden syrup
2 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar
3 lumps of stem ginger in syrup (about 55g)
2 heaped tbsp sultanas
125g dark muscavado sugar
2 large eggs
You will need a square cake tin measuring approximately 20-22cm, lined on the bottom with baking or greaseproof paper.
Set the oven at 180°C/gas mark 3. Sieve the flour with the ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and the salt. Put the golden and ginger syrups and the butter into a small saucepan, and warm over a low heat. Dice the ginger finely then add it to the pan with the sultanas and sugar. Let the mixture bubble gently for a minute, giving it the occasional stir to stop the fruit sticking to the bottom.
Break the eggs into a bowl, pour in the milk and beat gently to break up the egg and mix it into the milk. Remove the butter and sugar mixture from the heat and pour into the flour, stirring smoothly and firmly with a large metal spoon. Mix in the milk and eggs. The mixture should be sloppy, with no trace of flour.
Scoop the mixture into the non-stick or lined cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean. Unless you are serving it warm, leave the cake in its tin to cool, then tip out on to a sheet of greaseproof paper. Wrap it up again in foil and leave to mature for a day or two before eating.