It’s a cold grey day outside, so what better way to pass the time than to bake? I was keen to make a ginger loaf after spying a rather delicious looking one at the supermarket this morning (all dark, dense and gooey), and while a quick search through my cookbooks resulted in a fair few recipes for ginger cake (chocolate ginger cake – note to self, this is a must try!), I couldn’t find any suitable ‘loaf’ recipes. A Google search brought up a recipe for Esther’s Gingerbread on the Ruth Pretty site, which I decided to try.
It’s one of those recipes where the eye-popping amounts of sugar, golden syrup and butter called for beam unbidden kilos onto your hips directly from page before you even begin baking (or eating – four large pieces like I did!), but in my experience those are often the very best recipes, and this one was no disappointment.
My only regret is what I actually ended up with still wasn’t a loaf, after all that searching… it’s definitely a gingerbread. Yes, just like the recipe told me! And while it’s lovely, sticky and sweet with more than a hint of warm gingeryness , I think I still prefer Nigella’s version with molasses and fresh grated ginger.
This is a very dense cake, rather than a gingerbread biscuit (or “cookie”). If you like sweet, rich gingery flavours, you’ll love this!
Nigella’s Gingerbread (from ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess)
125gm dark sugar
200gm golden syrup
200gm black treacle (or molasses for a really dark cake)
2 tsp fresh ginger (finely grated)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp warm water
300gm plain flour
Preheat the oven to 170c/gas mark 3. In a saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, golden syrup, treacle (or molasses), ginger and cinnamon. Once the butter has melted take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool slightly, while you dissolve the soda in the water, and add that the the beaten eggs and milk. Combine the milk mixture with the sugar mixture. Sift the flour into the wet ingredients and mix well until smooth – it is a very liquid batter. Pour into a greased tin (roughly 30cm x 20cm) and bake for around 45 minutes, until the cake has risen and is firm. Be careful not to overcook it, as it really is best when it’s still sticky, and it will continue to cook slightly once it’s out of the oven.
Nigella suggests icing it with lemon icing, but I like it just the way it is – unadulterated gingeryness at its best!
It’s been ages since I last made Ginger Cake. I use a tried and tested Nigella Lawson recipe which includes molasses, dark brown sugar, golden syrup and fresh ginger. If you like ginger, and I do, you will love this! My five year old eats huge hunks of it, and I figure it can’t be as bad for her as some sweets and cakes would be. (It’s high in Iron because of the molasses, and my mother MADE me eat when I was anaemic during my pregnancies – imagine being made to eat cake!!) It is sticky and gooey as anything, and keeps really well because of it – not that it ever seems to last more than a day or so in our house… It would make a wonderful winter pudding served warm with custard or ice cream, but I’m just happy with a great big hunk of it to have with a cup of tea – bliss!