Monday, 17 October 2011

Sticky Ginger and Orange Cake

Recipe Number One Hundred & Three.  Page 86.

Over the last couple of days I have noticed a real autumn chill in the air. Before we know it we will be within the depths of winter. Although this means that Christmas is closer, it also means getting the washing dry on the line will be impossible, my feet will be cold in bed and I will miss my flip flops! I felt in need of a comforting and warming bake to cheer myself up! Mary Berry has a lot of ginger cake recipes throughout the Baking Bible; I felt this was the perfect time to make one. How could I not be tempted by the title? I love sticky ginger cake and adding orange should take it to a whole new level! Mary suggests making this two days ahead of icing so the cake has time to mature and become moist and sticky. My mouth watered at the thought, yum!

I had a nasty migraine Friday evening, but thought it wouldn't take me long to make the cake; it appeared relatively straightforward. This would mean that it would be ready to be iced on Sunday evening. I had to line not only the base of the tin but also the sides; this alone took me ten minutes! Now came the sticky part – I had to weigh out golden syrup and black treacle in equal quantities into a saucepan. I find weighing syrup and treacle is easier when I place the saucepan directly onto the scales; it makes it more accurate. Unfortunately my scales thought it was a good time to go on the blink! For a few seconds the display would settle on 0g and then pick numbers at random; it was all over the place. The same thing happened months ago and was corrected with a new battery. We tried this method again and it had no effect. I could have cried! As soon as I turned the scales on and they went to 0g, I quickly added the ingredients before it did its own thing. I did not feel confident of the results! To the hopefully accurate amount of syrup and treacle I needed to add quite a lot of water. I then brought the mixture to the boil. This was certainly a different method to what I am used to!

Into my mixing bowl I measured butter, sugar and an egg. I also needed plain flour and some bicarbonate of soda. I wondered why I was using bicarbonate of soda instead of baking powder. Mary says in her introduction section that it is a raising agent with a bitter flavour, so is best used with strong flavours, such as gingerbread. It is also most effective where there are natural acids present in the ingredients such as black treacle, lemon juice or buttermilk. So, after reading this, it was perfectly clear why Mary had chosen to use it in this recipe! Next, I had to add the important ginger and orange flavour. The orange I used had such a soft skin that I ended up grating in some flesh as well as the zest! It smelt so lovely and fresh and, once I added in the ground ginger, the kitchen smelt rather Christmassy! I very nearly forgot to add the cinnamon. Surprisingly, I needed to add the same amount as the ginger; I wondered if the taste of ginger would be lost against the cinnamon. I tried to beat the bowl of ingredients together. I only had the egg and butter for moisture and my electric whisk did a fantastic job of flicking the flour everywhere. This was turning out to be more stressful than I had expected and my head was pounding even harder, I reached for the paracetamol! I tried using a wooden spoon and then a hand held whisk to blend the ingredients, but it wasn't having it. I admitted defeat and went ahead, adding the hot syrup and treacle mixture and giving it a good whisk. In the process my lovely Baking Bible got sprayed with brown sticky liquid, marvellous! At least the liquid helped smooth out the mixture; I had feared I would have to sieve it! My worries hadn't ended there though as, when I poured the mixture into the tin, the consistency was little thicker than water!!! My scales were not reliable, so I wasn't sure if this was down to that or the recipe. I put the watery brown mixture into the oven to cook for just under an hour. The smell wafting from the oven was divine, so at least the house smelt good; that was one blessing!

I wasn't really sure what I was going to find when I went to retrieve the cake. Anxiously I peered over the top of the oven door and saw what appeared to be a nicely cooked cake. Success was confirmed on taking it from the oven for a more thorough inspection. It looked good to me! I left it the tin to cool for ten minutes and then tipped it out onto a wire rack to cool further. I felt more than a little disappointed that I had to wrap the cold cake in baking paper and foil; I wanted a slice now!!

On Sunday afternoon I unwrapped my ginger and orange cake and was delighted to see that it had increased in stickiness!!! I placed the cake on a wire rack above a baking tray to catch the excess drips of icing. I weighed out some icing sugar and squeezed in the juice from half an orange. The icing should have been fairly thick but mine was too runny, so I added in a little more icing sugar. I drizzled the icing over the cake, and found it was still a bit thin; it glided straight off the sides!! I tried to scoop the drips from the tray and reapply but, in the end, I decided not to worry about it and leave it as it was. I was almost speechless after just one bite of ginger and orange cake; I've never been completely speechless! It tasted truly wonderful. Neil and I both thought it tasted almost exactly like a Jamaican loaf, which we get sometimes to go with custard. This is by far the best ginger cake I have ever made or eaten. It might be a plain Jane but I assure you it tastes like a million dollars!
Not pretty to look at but tastes so good!


2 comments:

  1. Congratulations- both on this cake and on the quest. I've been going into Mary Berry withdrawls - this is just what I've needed to cheer me up. Thank you!

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  2. Thank you so much Tori. I am delighted that I've been able to cheer you up :-)

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