Sunday, May 13, 2007


For Mother's Day: Toasted Ginger Cake

To my mum,
To my angelheart Eric's mom,
To Eric's sister who is a wonderful mommy,
To my friends who are mummies,
and to all mothers:

Happy Mother's Day.

I woke up very early this morning, so I could bake something for mum on this special day; I really wanted her to wake up to the smell of something comforting and warm. Also, this would be the first Mother's Day that I have baked for her.

Last night, again in bed with cookery books piled up around me, I was determined to find something that my mother would want to slather with butter, preferably a loaf of sorts. Mum does not have the sweetest tooth, so because I wanted to find something semi-sweet, a treat for her, the quest for something to bake for her actually proved be challenging (made more difficult by the gazillion cookery book pages to leaf through).

In the chapter entitled "From Hedgerow and Bog" of her cookery book for cold climes, Roast Figs, Sugar Snow, Diana Henry includes a dessert from a grand Swedish hotel, Hennickehammar. The dessert is a toasted ginger cake served with wine poached cranberries. I thought poached cranberries might be a bit much first thing in the morning, but the cake sounded promising because mum likes ginger. I could imagine that this would have the appealing aroma wafting from the oven to induce mum out of bed (after a sleep in, of course) and to the kitchen.

Ms. Henry says that after one day, the cake is crumbly enough to be toasted, which is how they serve it at Hennickehammar. I thought mum might like it right out of the oven, slathered with butter, to eat along with her morning cup of English Breakfast tea. Being the good son, milking as much affection as possible, I adapted the recipe for mostly sentimental reasons. Mum baked heaps when I was a kid. One of her staple additions to scones, sweet muffins, and breads was sultanas. So, to appeal to sweet childhood memories, I substituted the dried cranberries for sultanas. (Incidentally, Ms. Henry adapted the recipe too, switching out lingonberries for cranberries.) Consequently, I had the sultanas plump up in the juice from a freshly squeezed (Australian) orange instead of using that of a lemon, which works wonderfully for cranberries, I'm sure, but not for sultanas - at least to my mind.

Toasted Ginger Bread
(Adapted from Diana Henry's Roast Figs, Sugar Snow)

125g/4 1/2oz dried sultanas (or cranberries, lingonberries...)
juice of 1 orange (or lemon)
300g/10 1/2oz plain flour
200g/7oz light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
60g/2 1/4oz butter, melted
200ml/7 fl oz milk
1 medium egg, beaten
icing sugar, to serve

1) Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F, and butter and flour a 1kg/1lb 4oz loaf-tin.
2) Put the sultanas in a small saucepan and add the orange juice. Cover and bring to the boil, then let simmer until the sultanas have plumped up (approximately 15 minutes).
3) In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder together, and create a well in the centre.
4) Pour the melted butter, milk, beaten egg, and sultanas with its juices into the well. Stir these wet ingredients together, gradually pulling in the dry ingredients on the outside into the well.
5) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf-tin and bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake is cooked at the centre.
6) Cool on a rack.

As you can see in the top photo, the cake has cracked, and I don't know if that is normal or not - I forgot to consult Tamasin's Kitchen Bible by Tamasin Day-Lewis beforehand. This cake has a splendidly warm ginger aroma. I merrily toasted for crispy edges and over which I sprinkled a light cloud of icing sugar. Mum, of course, went straight for the butter.
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I love you, mum.

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How nice of you to bake for your mother :) It sounds like a nice cake and never mind the crack, Nigella says it just makes the cake look even more "homebaked". When my cakes crack I am always wondering if the oven temperature was too high or if it was too much baking powder... someone else might be able to answer:)

vs xx
That's a lovely dedication :) and of course a lovely cake too, it look so good, lucky Mum!

I've never made a ginger cake that didn't crack a little, I think maderia does it as well, but not sure why!
Almost every cake I make seems to crack a little! Found your blog from Kelly-Jane's. The cake looks lovely - and I love it that you wrote I love you mum at the end. Please pass on tips - I want my boys to grow up to do stuff like that. Will be back to read more. Amanda
Vonsachsen - You are probably right re: baking soda because I second-guessed the amount when adding it. I have never used that much in one recipe before, and it seemed so much given the little flour used...But it might have been because of the oven. There is only one way to find out - read the cake rules and make it again!

Kelly-Jane - It's nice to see you stopping by so frequently. Yes, the dedication is a little schmaltzy, but it is heartfelt. I adore my mum and Eric's mom. Fortunately my mother either didn't notice the crack or didn't care whether there was one or not; she loved the cake. It was really very tasty, and the kitchen smelled so good when it was baking.

Amanda - I love Kelly-Jane's blog. She and I have an affinity for trying other people's recipes to get us out of our comfort zones. Thanks for the nice comment re: the end note. As one gets older I think one truly understands the role of good parenting. I was very lucky, and I try at every given moment to show my appreciation. Enough with the sappy stuff...Thanks for checking the blog out.
Lovely looking cake!

I loved reading the post...all the thought that went into this simple recipe. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.
What a wonderful son you are! The cake looks stunning, I loved the cracked top you get on loaf cakes/bread. In fact, I just love loaf cakes full stop. They look so unassuming but then pow! They wow you with flavour! Bet it was great toasted!
Aw Shaun, you are a very good son! The bread sounds delicious.
Horseradish with beets? You made my day, Shaun. Really, a perfect pairing. Nice cross section of goodies you have here, and a very dear post to your mom. By the way, all loaf cakes crack; it's their nature. The edges and bottom bake, harden and expand first, pushing the raw middle into a hump that has to crack as it, too, expands. Enough science for now. : )
Ruth - Yes, the cake came from a good place. January babies, like Boaz and me, are the best :-p

Freya, love - You are my biggest foodie champion; thanks for the always kind comments. Yeah, this cake looks innocent enough, and I suppose it is a standard cake, but it smells so nice, and for the first few hours it is moist enough. It dries quickly though, which is why it is so great to toast. Very wintry.

Sara - Well, it is easy to be a good son when I have no competitors for my parents attention...And it helps that I do actually love them. Mum really appreciated the cake. I should do something like that more often.

Susan - Thanks for the reassurance. I thought maybe the oven was too high, but I thought about it last night and realized I had already tested its calibration. Clearly, I don't make these loaf cake enough to really know, and I appreciate the comment yielded from your experience. Your blog is FAB-U-LOUS.
How sweet--your mummy is a very lucky woman!

I was only able to call mine as she is still out of the country. Not even sure she realized it was Mother's Day (not sure if it's recognized in India). No bother, she'll be home for her birthday.

Jasmine, dear - At least you called your mom. I have friends who actually forgot. Can you imagine?? What have you got planned for your mom's birthday? Dinner??
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