When summer comes around, British bakers turn to lighter sponge cakes full of seasonal fruits and fresh creams. Yet, in the recent glorious July weather, I have found myself craving a cake suffused with the warm spices and deep flavours that belong to hotter countries. What better spice to satisfy my craving than ginger, whose popularity for both medicinal and culinary purposes has seen it spread from China, across Asia, to the Carribean. In Jamaica, the spice developed an intense, punchy flavour that is perfect for baking – hence, the Jamaica ginger cake.
I could hardly avoid growing up without an appreciation of this spice, because of my dad’s love of ginger. Not just a love for his flame-haired daughter, but for all food products containing ginger’s sweet heat. Most particularly, he loves our family recipe for ginger cake, which is syrupy, caramel-crusted and flecked with crystallised ginger. The soft, tender crumb makes it a little temperamental to slice, so it’s much easier to cut into big slabs – at least that’s my excuse!
- 4oz plain flour
- 40z wholemeal flour
- 1.5 oz of soft brown sugar
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 2tsp ground ginger
- 1oz of chopped crystallised ginger (plus an extra sprinkle for good measure)
- 1 egg
- 4oz margerine or unsalted butter
- 8fl oz of golden syrup
- 150mls of warm milk
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 1kg loaf tin.
- Mix together sifted flour, sugar, spices and crystallised ginger in a large bowl.
- Melt butter and syrup together in a pan set over a low heat. Leave to cool slightly.
- Mix the egg, milk and bicarbonate of soda together in a small bowl.
- Add the butter and egg mixtures into the flour, and whisk by hand until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the lake comes out cleanly.
- Enjoy with a cup of tea as late afternoon cools to evening, or eat warm with ice-cream for a decadent dessert.