gingerbread noms

This is a recipe I’ve used lots of times. I’ve tried the 2 Fat Ladies one, but this one is better. It’s from Vogue Entertaining Aug/Sep 1996. It’s from a special they did on ‘country cakes’, and every cake I’ve made from that collection has been really really good. I’m not very good at cakes, but this one is heavy and solid and is difficult to ruin.
250g butter
1 cup sugar (I use a soft brown sugar)
1 cup treacle
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tsp bicarb soda
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger (I replace this with fresh grated fresh ginger. In fact, I think the fresh ginger is the most important part. I use the youngest ginger I can find, and grate a heap of it – 2.5 big tablespoons. The amount you use should depend on the ginger’s freshness and age and your own taste. I like the cake really gingery, but not everyone does. Also, you might like to be careful about how finely you grate it. I like chunks of ginger, but it’s not for everyone)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg (as per usual, grate it freshly yourself and the difference will be amazing)
I also add 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp ground mace, but these are quite aromatic and not really to everyone’s taste
Butter and flour the sides of a 23cm square cake tin and line the base with baking powder (this is a big cake, so I use my larger loaf tin). Preheat the oven to 180*C
Melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar and treacle and set aside to cool.
Beat the eggs and milk together in a bowl and add the bicarb of soda, which has been dissolved in a little warm water.
Pour the egg mixture into the cooled treacle mixture. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg (and other spices – but perhaps don’t sift the grated ginger, just add it) together in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture.
Mix well with a wooden spoon (I usually use the electric mixer here as I always find it hard to get the lumps out otherwise. But beating can make the cake a bit too light and fluffy, and while it settles a bit as it gets older, the fluffiness doesn’t really suit the cake).
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven, let stand for 1 to 2 minutes and turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.
The recipe says to serve it with whipped cream. But I like it spread with butter. It gets better if you leave it in a sealed container (or tied plastic bag) as the outside softens and gets stickier.

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