Sunday, January 14, 2007


Double Ginger Cake

Ever since I first read Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries I have wanted to make his Double Ginger Cake, which features in the entry for 9 January. It was raining the day Mr. Slater made it; I was preparing for what was to be the end of the latest hot blast of Santa Ana Winds and the onset of a climatic depression. All I wanted to do after reading the 9 January entry was to eat ginger cake, drink coffee, and curl up under the dusky orange glow of my favorite reading lamp with a good book. Finally, I can realize that unambitious dream - or is it indeed ambitious to plan for idle moments in these times of breakneck speed and instant gratification?

This cake, though easy to make, requires patience because Mr. Slater recommends waiting one to two days for the cake to mature. This will allow for the ginger to send out its zing and mellow with the molasses. The recipe does call for items that are not commonly found in the U.S., or at least the places in Southern California that I frequent: stem ginger (preserved ginger in syrup) and golden syrup, both of which can be ordered online, as I did for the ginger syrup. I have Blackstrap molasses, so I used that instead of golden syrup and then used light muscovado sugar when Mr. Slater uses the dark variety. I figured it would all come out in the wash, so to speak. And it did.

Double Ginger Cake
(from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries)

9oz (250g) self-raising/all-purpose flour
2 level teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 level teapspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 pinch salt
7oz (200g) golden syrup (blackstrap molasses)
2 tablespoons syrup from stem ginger jar
4.5oz (125g) butter
3 lumps stem ginger in syrup, finely diced
2 heaped tablespoons sultanas (I prefer raisins)
4.5oz (125g) dark muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
8oz and 2 tablespoons (240ml) milk

1) Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
2) Sift flour with ground spices, baking soda, and salt.
3) Put butter, golden syrup and stem ginger syrup into a small saucepan and warm over a low heat.
4) Place diced stem ginger into pan, stir, then add sultanas and sugar.
5) Let the mixture bubble gently, stirring occasionally to prevent fruit from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
6) Break eggs into a separate bowl, pour in milk, and beat gently to combine.
7) Remove butter and sugar mixture from heat and pour into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring firmly and smoothly.
8) Mix in the egg and milk mixture until all ingredients are combined - sloppy but with no trace of flour.
9) Scoop mixture into lined cake tin (Mr. Slater uses one that measures 8"/20-22cm) and bake for 35-40 minutes.
10) When cake passes the skewer test and unless you are serving it warm, let the double ginger cake cool, then tip it out onto greaseproof paper. Wrap it up in foil, and then leave to mature for 1-2 days.

Instead of using the size tin Mr. Slater recommends, I used a 9.5" LeCreuset stoneware oval baking dish. Judge yourself for the volume. I was not concerned because there was not a high quantity of raising agents, so I knew that the cake would slowly rise, semi-set, then rise again, and as the cake expanded ever so slowly, there was little danger of overflowing the chosen baking vessel.

This cake is now my second made specifically for the purpose of fulfilling my afternoon tea (or coffee in my case) cravings. The cake came out just as Mr. Slater describes, mildly crisp on the top, but dense and moist elsewhere. The rich color of the cake, gorgeously sumptuous dark brown exterior and almost cacao red in the center, alone beckons, but it really is the gorgeous aromas that the cake releases as its baking that really set my heart racing. Heady aromas and gut-filling substance are what Winter baking and cooking is all about for me, even if it is just for afternoon tea.

This will have to be it for just over one week because my angelheart Eric and I are off to Paris. Aside from the standard sight-seeing (it will be Eric's first time), I will be checking out the food...I will no doubt come back suitably recharged...and with a couple more cookery books!

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That cake looks as darkly rich and sticky as you could hope for! Delicious!
Hope you and Eric have a fabulous time in Paris - so romantic at this time of the year! Can't wait to hear about the wonderful food you eat (pop in if you happen to nip over to sunny Britain!!).
Love, Freya
I loved the book--TFE gave it to me for my birthday. I haven't cooked from it yet, but your cake is making me want to flip through its pages again...

Well done :)

Freya - Would love to have had the time to stop by and see you and Paul. Perhaps next time? The cake is very rich and a little sticky, but my goodness is it tasty. I already want to make it again, but I might try one of Tamasin's gingerbreads. Have you tried any of them before?

Jasmine - I could flip through "The Kitchen Diaries" all day long; it makes for an engaging read. Some of the recipes seem all too simple, but that is part of its seasonal charm - after all, when the food is in season, one need only augment its natural flavors and aromas. The cake is worth making, especially if you like ginger in your cakes, as I do.
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