The Brits invented ginger cake, it seems to me, so when a buddy told me about a ginger cake cook-off in The Guardian, we had no option but to test things out. We’re both rabid ginger fans, so the concept of adding large amounts of fresh, crystallized and powdered ginger to a common-or-garden cake seemed like a recipe for perfection.
It was, producing a fiery golden cake with a lingering hint of Tate and Lyle golden syrup that left me swimming in nostalgia. (To digress, I remember drizzling golden syrup over oatmeal (porridge), and watching it melt into the warmth for the ultimate winter breakfast.) I didn’t like ginger back then, though. I’m so glad tastes change.
The Guardian’s “Perfect Ginger Cake”
100g dark muscovado sugar (we used the darkest brown sugar we could find)
175g self-raising flour (That’s another Brit-thingy. You can buy it in Canukistan, or you can mix your own.)
4 tsp ground ginger (don’t skimp on this)
175g golden syrup
1 tbsp ginger wine (this is something else I remember seeing in my Brit days. I suspect you could substitute rum, or even orange juice)
Walnut-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (Our walnuts were more the size of ping-pong balls. We chopped them finely in the food processor.)
150g candied ginger, finely chopped (we chopped to chunks, for extra oomph)
- Cream the butter and sugar with a pinch of salt until fluffy.
- Add the golden syrup and ginger wine, and then the eggs, one at a time.
- Sift together the flour and ground ginger, and then add them to the cake.
- Stir in the fresh and candied ginger and spoon into a greased 9 inch (23 cm) loaf tin.
- Bake at 160C/325F for about 50–60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (Ours took something over an hour, but the skewer went from soggy to clean very quickly indeed.)
The recipe recommends a glaze of glazing powdered sugar and another 2 tbsp of ginger wine, and then more crystallized ginger. Neither of us are great glaze fans, so we gave that one a miss.
From there we moved on to my third (and definitely final) experiment with the November Cook the Books challenge from online friends over in Seattle. My first experiment here was underwhelming at best (the olive oil cake was too sweet, and still gelatinous in the center). But the ginger molasses cookies seemed worth a try.
We increased the ginger a little, with heaping teaspoons of chopped, fresh ginger rather than regular ones, and we added a half teaspoon of dried ginger.
The results? They are vaguely chewy, which is good, and decently molassessy, which is also good. But where’s the ginger?
Blogger Wannacomewithme posted the recipe, so I don’t need to bother. But then I might not bother with the recipe again either. If you do, may I recommend adding large quantities of ground ginger, and probably a cup or so of chopped-up crystallized ginger too.
Sorry, Cook the Books challenge. I’ll give this book a miss.
But the ginger cake? Twelve out of 10 at least. Maybe more.
*Apologies to William Shakespeare for the misquote