Do you find that some recipes stay with you down the years? This cake is one I learned to make in Domestic Science (Cookery) when I was at school. Seems a long time ago now, but it has stood the test of time. (The original recipe uses the old Imperial measurement of the gill. I remember learning: ‘4 gills are 1 pint, 2 pints are 1 quart, 4 quarts are 1 gallon, 1 pints are 1 gallon …’ so there you are, proof that I listened in school! Nevertheless I have converted it to a more measurable amount for the 21st Century.) The teacher called it simply Gingerbread but, as I usually now connect this word with something more like a biscuit, I have added the word Cake to the title. There are one or two other good recipes in my old exercise book which ought to be added to this site at some future date.
The recipe uses a technique (my 12year old handwriting says) called the ‘melting method’: the sugar and oils are gently heated together until liquid and then combined with the dry ingredients. The basic recipe is for a plain ginger cake but sultanas or raisins could be added, but for real ginger lovers crystallised ginger or ginger marmalade could be included instead or as well. I think it would be possible to make a citrus/ginger version but have not tried a it: experiment by replacing some of the milk with juice and/or adding orange or lemon rind or marmalade. The proportions of 50% Treacle and 50% Golden Syrup can be adjusted as well to give a less treacly version. The school version was baked in a square tin, but I have successfully made it in a round tin as well and am sure that it could also be baked in a loaf tin. The cake is finished with a dusting of icing sugar or drizzled icing. Alternatively a sticky top could be achieved by adding a sugar & water glaze – see Fragrant Chocolate Orange Marble Cake.
6ozs/170g self-raising flour
1tsp/5g ground ginger
¼tsp/1.25g mixed spices
2ozs/55g black treacle
2ozs/55g golden syrup
20zs/55g dark brown sugar
3ozs/85g lard (try white vegetable fat as an alternative, but I have never tried it)
¾gill/scant 4fl ozs/110ml milk
¼tsp/1.25g bicarbonate of soda
Additional flavourings to add (but not all at the same time), not in original recipe:
20zs/55g dried fruit or chopped crystallised ginger – optional
2tbsp marmalade or ginger marmalade – optional
grated lemon or orange zest – optional
lemon or orange juice, in place of milk – optional
1. Preheat oven to 170oC Fan oven/180oC/350oF/Gas 4. Line a 7inch/18cm square tin with baking parchment. Alternatively use an 8inch/20cm round tin or a 2lb loaf tin (see picture).
2. Sift together the flour, spices and salt.
3. Put the treacle, syrup, sugar and lard in a saucepan and carefully heat together on a low temperature until melted. Do not boil. Leave to cool a little.
4. Beat the egg and pour into a well (a depression) in the centre of the flour. Add a little of the melted mixture and blend together. Continue to mix together gradually until all the melted mixture is used up. If using orange or lemon zest, dried fruit or crystallised ginger it should be added at this point.
5. Add about three-quarters of the milk and stir in. Blend the bicarbonate of soda into the remaining milk and stir into the rest of the cake mixture. Beat very well.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
7. Bake for about 50mins-1hour. Cover with a piece of tin foil for the final 15 minutes of cooking time if the cake starts to get too dark.
8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with icing sugar. For a sticky surface brush with a mixture of sugar dissolved in water before the cake dries.
8. Can be served both as a cake and as a dessert with custard or cream.