Monday, 21 June 2010

Gingerbread for Father's Day

Sadly Mrs Tarts dad lives in a care home due to being paralysed down one side of his body (consequence of a stroke), and while most fathers are difficult to buy for, it's even harder to buy for a man who wants for little in terms of material gifts. Even buying cards can be a trial, as the typical images of footballs, golf, fishing, cars, trains and all the other things that seem, strangely enough, to be associated with fatherhood are far from fitting. Anyways, I know my dad has limited storage and can buy (and has bought) most music to his taste, so long story short, I decided to bake something instead. My favourite shop bought cake when I was a child was this:

That soft, sticky cake that was always moist with a slightly liquid gooey centre combined with its warm spice was a slice of shop bought heaven to me, and whilst I never buy cake anymore, ginger cake is a food dear to my heart, and I know my dad was fond of it too. I'm also aware that my dad needs to watch his diet carefully, so I wanted a cake that either keeps well, or gets better being kept for a few days, and gingerbread, along with parkin falls into both catagories. It's also easy to eat, no fork needed.

I'm sure I own a lot of recipes for gingerbread, but the first one I found in the bookcase was the recipe from Nigella Lawson's 'How to be a Domestic Goddess', and like most of Lawson's baking recipes, it was very indulgent, with alot of treacle and golden syrup. The way to cope with this is to cut the final cake into more portions than recommended. The recipe used fresh ginger as a twist, but as I was baking this late at night after work (so I had time to ice the cake in the morning and post it off in time for saturday delivery) and I didn't have any fresh ginger in the fridge, I used some preserved stem ginger from a jar. The recipe also included lemon icing, but I wasn't really interested in that, so I made my own ginger icing by using a little of the preserving syrup from the jar of ginger and some icing sugar.
Gingerbread with Ginger icing - makes 20 squares

For the gingerbread:

150g unsalted butter
125g dark muscovado sugar
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle
2 tsp grated stem (or fresh) ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
250ml milk
2 large eggs beaten
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water
300g plain flour

For the icing-
Use a small amount of the gingery syrup from the jar of stem ginger, and enough icing sugar to make a thick but still drizz-able icing.

Preheat the oven to 170 degree and grease and line a brownie pan at least 5cm deep (or a cake tin if you want wedges)
In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the sugar, golden syrup, treacle, grated ginger and cinnamon. Take off the heat and then add the milk, beaten eggs and bicarbonate of soda in its water.
Place the flour in a bowl and pour in the the liquid from the saucepan. Beat well with a whisk until well mixed. The batter is very liquid, but don't be alarmed.

Carefully pour into the tin and bake from 45min-1 hour, but keep an eye on it towards the end so you don't overcook it, otherwise you'll lose the stickiness, and keep in mind it will carry on cooking as it cools.

For the icing mix a little of the syrup with icing sugar until you have a thickish but drizzly icing and either using a spoon or a piping bag, drizzle over the top of the cake. Leave to set and then slice.

I kept a slice to try it and it was amazingly yummy. Sweet, spicy and very comforting.

As it turned out, my dad thought he shouldn't have all of it, and I can understand why, it is very sweet, so he had the cook cut it up into 31 portions and he shared it with all of elderly people in the care home and it went down a treat apparently. So I'm pleased it brought a little bit of happy to a lot of people. 31 is the most people I've baked for!

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