23 January 2010


"Just the smell of it restores peace to the body and mind."

This was the startlingly profound verdict of my eleven-year-old as I cut her a slice of this gingerbread. If you're in need of some mental or corporeal peace and have 10 minutes to spare, I commend this recipe to you. It fills the house with superb aromas.

It's a slightly adapted version of the one in the 1986 Hamlyn New All Colour Cookbook. This was one of only two recipe books I owned when I was at university and it therefore holds a special place in my heart. Compared to the cookery books I've bought more recently, the text is quite bald and matter-of-fact, almost as though its anonymous authors had been ordered to suppress their personalities completely. There are no opinions about the dishes and the photographs are... well, the word 'workmanlike' suggests itself. Certainly the one of the gingerbread is not at all inspiring. Nevertheless, the method is quick and easy (my son did most of the work) and the resulting cake is just plain delicious: moistly spicy on the inside and tooth-stickingly chewy round the edges.


450g/1lb/3 cups plain/all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon baking powder
175g/6oz/¾ cup butter
175g/6oz/½ cup molasses or black treacle
175g/6oz/½ cup golden syrup (I imagine corn syrup would work, too)
200g/7oz/1 cup soft brown sugar
1 large egg
300ml/½ pint milk

Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Mix the flour, baking powder and spices together in a large bowl. Melt the butter with the syrup, treacle and sugar and then stir into the flour along with the egg and milk. Beat well to get rid of most of the lumps (smallish lumps disappear on cooking). Line an 8-inch cake tin with baking parchment (my tin was 1½ inches deep - anything shallower would be too small) and pour in the mixture. Bake for around an hour and a half (in my convection oven it took an hour and 15 minutes). A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

If you find you have any left, it keeps well in an airtight container.


Jean Campbell said...

Just thinking about gingerbread is restorative. How perceptive you daughter is!

easygardener said...

There is something about ginger cake that is especially soothing - as well as tasty.