I seem to be on a journey that includes loads of different traditional British cakes, which noone at home is complaining about at all. Perhaps, it is the nostalgic air of early autumn creeping into the air.
What is great about these sorts of cakes are that they get better with a bit of ageing, so there is none of this lightness that morphs into dryness overnight. There’s also an old fashioned solidity to them that makes them a meal in their own right rather than a light, frolicky piece of fancy that seems to be just a burst of sweetness without any substance.
They all make an interesting use of spice flavours and work well with different types of liquid. In this gingerbread recipe that I have been playing with, I use buttermilk which imparts a richness to the gingerbread that milk does not quite match. And while there is definitely some ginger taste in this cake, it is not overpowering and is balanced by the sweetness of the cinnamon powder (note: cinnamon not cassia or baker’s cinnamon), while the molasses flavours from the black treacle and muscovado are kept down through using relatively little treacle and a light muscovado rather than a dark one. You can tweak these quantities and ingredients to suit your household’s tastes – these match our own as Jay really loves this cake.
I, also, recommend wrapping up the cake and leaving it for a day as the cake becomes moister, which is much tastier and the texture is more correct than eating it fresh from the oven.
How To Make Traditional Gingerbread
280g / 10 oz / 2½ cups organic plain flour (I am using Gilchester’s white flour at the moment)
2tsp organic ginger powder
1½tsp baking powder
¾tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾tsp organic cinnamon powder
125g / 4½ oz / generous ½ cup light muscovado sugar
115g / 4 oz / ½ cup butter (lightly salted is fine)
125g / 4½ oz / scant ½ cup golden syrup (corn syrup)
50g / 2 oz / 3tbsp black treacle
200ml / 7fl oz / 7/8 cup buttermilk (or full fat milk)
1 large sized egg, at room temperature and lightly beaten
Set the oven to 160C / 325F. Line a large loaf tin with baking parchment (dimensions: 12 x 19cm; 4½ x 7½ inches).
Sieve the plain flour, ginger, cinnamon powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together into a large mixing bowl.
Cut the butter into small pieces and put into a pan, then add the golden syrup, muscovado sugar and black treacle to this and warm over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the sugars. Mix it all up with a silicone spatula or hand whisk. Add the buttermilk and egg and mix up thoroughly.
Pour the ginger batter into the prepared loaf tin. Put into the centre of the warmed oven and bake for about an hour. As the hour comes up, start checking the gingerbread by gently pressing the top in the centre to feel whether it feels springy and spongy rather than liquidy; when done a skewer should come out without any dampness on it.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then turn out of loaf tin, remove the baking paper and allow to cool on a wire rack. When cool, wrap in clingfilm and leave for a day before eating; you can start eating it straight away but this is really a cake that tastes better the day afterwards.
Enjoy on its own or spread with a generous coating of good butter. Delicious and so, so easy.