Monday, October 23, 2006

Boiled Ginger Cake

The parents of my sweetheart came down for the weekend for a matinee of Brecht's Galileo at the National Theatre and then dinner at home. I planned to have a fairly simple meal that could mostly be prepared in advance as we didn't get home from the theatre till nearly 6pm. We had smoked salmon on thick warm slices of hoxton rye with a glass of pink champagne then roast spiced lamb and to finish, rather than a pudding, I wanted to have cheese.

To save the platter from being too simple I found a recipe for boiled ginger cake that makes a perfect accompaniment to caerphilly and to softish sheepy cheese. It comes from that doyenne of middle class pleasure Constance Spry who ran a school in the 1920's teaching teenage factory workers one day a week how to cook and other homemaking skills, including flower arranging. This version is an adaptation from Rose Prince's book 'The New English Kitchen'.

It is a very simple cake to make and the treacle makes it rich and sticky like burnt toffee and it offsets the cheese perfectly. It added a really interesting end to the meal.

Boiled Ginger Cake

120g/4oz butter
120g/4oz soft brown sugar
120g/4oz sultanas
2 tbspns water
300g/10oz black treacle
1 1/2 tspn ground ginger
2 eggs
180g/6oz plain flour
1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
60g/20z ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Put the butter, sugar, sultanas, water and black treacle into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes then set aside to cool. Beat in the ginger, then the eggs one at a time. Sift in the flour with the bicarb of soda and ground almonds and fold in well.

Turn the mixture into a greased 20cm/8 inch square cake tin and bake for an hour. Cool on a wire rack. Make it at least one day in advance - it improves the wonderfulness of it.

This fits very firmly into a category that I call savoury sweet things - it has all the usual ingredients for cakey things but produces something that is not exclusively sweet but rather goes very well with the non sweet. A category in which I sometimes find even myself.

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