The Great British Classic that Nan would store away in her cake tin even she supposedly didn’t like exotic food – Jamaica Ginger Cake.
I wanted to bake this cake last week when it was still officially winter but, as I am on what my husband refers to as a ‘baking budget’ I had to wait a week to buy the ingredients and as soon as they arrived on Wednesday I got straight to it, so what it was lunch time and the kids needed a proper meal (don’t worry no children were harmed in the making of this cake they ate sandwiches shortly after the cake went into the oven)
Historically a medical form of ginger known as Jamaica ginger was a popular stimulant and used frequently to treat conditions such as gastroparesis. Ginger was the first spice to be grown in the new world and imported back to europe and this is where I believe the warming spicy, dark, dense British cake got its name from and you never know, it could help treating that seasonal change cold we all seem to get this time of year. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
Jamaican ginger is known for its intense and perky flavor and for that Jamaica was once one of the three largest producers of ginger in the world.
My Grandmother / Nan was never a woman who particularly enjoyed cooking and she definitely didn’t like anything remotely foreign (I’m talking basic cupboard ingredients such as garlic?!) whilst my Grandad would relish in trying anything different, you know what they say opposites attract, sometimes. Whilst not being a terrific cook Nan would always have an array of shop-bought biscuits and cakes stashed away in tins for her and grandad’s elevenses and afternoon tea and I remember this special loaf being among the array. It only occurred to me now I’m grown, secretly she liked a bit of spice in her life!
This cake is simple and needs no amount of skill so that even my grandmother who by the way was ace at pancake and scone making could make it, let me show you.
In a pot place butter, dark brown sugar, treacle and traditionally golden syrup would be an ingredient but I preferred using raw honey instead and whilst I stuck true to the black treacle I am confident you could use date syrup in its place. Those stem ginger in the background are in next.
Next time I would chop the stem ginger finer as I don’t remember seeing chunks in the Mcvities Jamaican Ginger Cake and it was the only thing that put my children off it, but 2 ate around the chunks of ginger.
Warm ingredients together over medium heat, stirring constantly until butter and sugar has melted.
In with the flour that’s mixed with some organic ground ginger and a pinch of salt, make sure your ground ginger is fresh because it does become less potent the longer you store it. See that eggy milky mixture in the background, that’s up next.
At this point you’re thinking it’s all going wrong but you keep stirring and it all comes together….
and gets poured into a poorly lined loaf tin. One thing I will say is don’t stand around taking pictures for too long before putting mixture into tin as the longer it cools the treacle starts cooling and sinking to the bottom of the pan.
Bake in pre-heated oven on middle shelf for nearly an hour, remove and leave to cool on a wire rack a good 10 minutes before removing cake from tin and allowing to cool completely.
A word to the wise, it tastes best a day or 2 after baking when the liquid gold that is honey and the liquid black gold that is black treacle / do their thang and the loaf becomes slightly sticky to touch.
- 1 1/2 tablespoon black treacle
- 75 grams dark brown sugar
- 150 grams honey
- 90 grams unsalted butter
- 75 grams stem ginger, finely chopped
- 185 grams self-raising flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons organic ground ginger
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 free-range eggs, room temperature
- 150 ml milk, room temperature
- Pre-heat oven to gas mark 4 / 180C / 160C Fan / 356 F and place rack on middle shelf, grease and line a 1lb loaf tin.
- In a medium size bowl whisk flour, ground ginger, and salt together, set aside.
- If using refrigerated milk, in microwaveable bowl bring to room temp in microwave then whisk in your eggs. Set aside.
- In a medium size saucepan over medium heat melt the first 5 ingredients together, stir often. Once melted remove from heat, stir in the flour mixture followed by the egg mixture. Pour into loaf tin and bake on middle shelf for about 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove cake from oven and leave to cool in tin on a wire rack for a good 10-15 minutes before removing cake and leaving to cool on wire rack completely.Store in a air-tight container and enjoy the cake as the texture and flavour improves on the 2nd and 3rd day.