I hadn’t tried gingerbread in a long time. I love it when it is sticky, moist, dark and spicy. No wishy-washy gingerbread for me, please. And I prefer it baked as a loaf rather than cut in squares. I am fussy, I know.
What brought this to mind was a conversation with my sister. She had been to Smith & Caughey and had gingerbread and tea in their café. We then reminisced about the dark Jamaican gingerbread with the thick white icing, purchased from Jenner’s department store in Edinburgh, which we had eaten as children. I imagined my teeth softly piercing the cool, white icing to reach the contrasting warmth of the cake below and knew I had to have it again.
So, when my sister and her partner came round last weekend it seemed the perfect time to bake my version of this one – Dark Sticky Gingerbread from Rachel Allan – to see if we could muster up some old childhood memories.
I used chopped candied kumquats to add a certain stickiness to the cake. They're kind of marmalade-y. As they're not something you would normally have to hand, I've just put marmalade as the ingredient. You can leave this out altogether if you prefer. I omitted (no, I didn’t forget, it was deliberate!) Ms Allan’s ginger syrup, which she poured over the "hot from the oven" cake.
I was intrigued that she used 1tsp freshly ground black pepper but I chickened out and only used ½ tsp – so much for liking hot and spicy but it did look like a lot of pepper as I ground it onto a sheet (makes for easy measuring).
One cookbook recommended leaving gingerbread for a week before eating. Oh, for the patience and resolve to wait so long. So no, this cake did not get seven days to mature and mellow. It was lovely and flavourful as it was and just how I imagined it to be. My icing could have been thicker though to achieve the remembrance of things past.
75g (1/4 cup) golden syrup
50g black treacle (or molasses)
25g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp freshly ground pepper (grind onto a Teflon sheet or baking paper for ease of measuring)
100g caster sugar
1 pinch salt
1 egg lightly beaten
200g icing sugar, sifted
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 170°C (Gas 3). Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter, golden syrup, treacle (or molasses) and marmalade (if using) over a low heat. Set aside.
Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, spices and ground black pepper into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt. Add milk and egg and mix until smooth. Gradually add the melted butter mixture, stirring until well incorporated. The mixture will be fairly runny.
Pour mixture into the loaf tin and bake for approximately 50-55 minutes, or until the gingerbread is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and leave it in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Mix the sifted sugar with enough lemon juice to get the required consistency. Spread over the top of the cooled cake and allow to run slightly down the sides. The icing will set slightly.
I've decided to make this my entry into this month's Sweet New Zealand as I've not had time to post anything recently. This month's Sweet New Zealand is hosted by Couscous & Consciousness. Sue not only has a lovely blog but kindly gave me some advice on things technical. Thanks Sue, I hope you enjoy the gingerbread.