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Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

The Gingercake Man

I think I’ve discovered a new food combo. In fact, I’m sure I have. Last week the biggest little human in the house made ginger cake (recipe to follow) and gluttony followed in the aftermath.

(I had it with custard, on its own with tea and even with ice-cream), I decided to have muesli for breakfast one morning, as a semi-healthy afterthought. The problem was, I was running late on the day in question and so for the first time in a decade, I was forced to come to terms with leaving the house without breaking my fast. I needed one of those plastic

Tupperware box thingies to transport my muesli to work for future consumption but there was none to be had. Some were in the dishwasher and the remainder had been consigned to the freezer containing soup and/or leftover bolognaise sauce and possibly a chilli con carne (it’s been so long I’d have to crack it open for a smell to be sure).

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Scanning the cupboards, I eventually happened upon the plastic tub which had been used to store the leftover ginger cake. Knowing it to be empty, I cracked it open only to discover a scattering of sticky ginger cake crumbs. Initially I thought, “Ship! That won’t work.” And then I wondered, “Would the sticky ginger cake crumbs only add to my muesli appreciation?” As it happens, they most certainly did.

Immediately upon arriving at work, I topped the ginger cake muesli with some wildflower honey and lots of ice-cold milk and then smiled the whole way through. Ginger cake muesli is a thing! Although, I’m not sure it fulfils the ‘semi-healthy afterthought’ notion. Still, the next time it’s made I’m gonna do exactly the same, except maybe this time, I’ll crumble more cake into the oaty, wheaty mixture.

But coming back to the ginger cake itself… I think it’s a nostalgic notion, being in love with ginger cake. I remember as a greedy kid, buttering the outside slice of a McVitie’s Jamaica

Ginger and washing down each mouthful with slugs of milk out of the bottle. Remember milk in glass bottles? Those were the days.

Even now though, the smell of the Jamaica Ginger is enough to whisk me back to a time when life was much simpler (and of course, pandemic free) and treats came in the form of buttered cake and/or biscuits. Do people still butter digestives? If they don’t, they most definitely should.

With Halloween on the horizon, this is a great cake to deliberate over on a blowy Saturday afternoon when you’ve nowhere else to be and the weather dictates that you’d rather lounge around the house anyway. And if, like me, you’ve a live-in baker, so much the better.

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This is a recipe Sarah adapted from a recipe she found on-line. The original recipe called for golden syrup but we didn’t have any and so the biggest little human used honey instead – Granda Kieran’s wildflower honey to be exact – and the result was very special indeed.

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The first square of the cake was devoured about an hour after it came out of the oven but we subsequently discovered that it’s better the following day, perhaps when it has had a chance to cool completely and become stickier yet. In any case, it’s delicious with custard and yes, I also buttered a square for good measure.

INGREDIENTS
• 200g self-raising flour
• 200g caster sugar
• 1 heaped tsp ground ginger
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 55g margarine (cold)
• 1 free-range egg
• 2 tbsp honey
• 240ml hot water

THE PLAN
Start by pre-heating the oven to 175C and while that’s happening, grease and line a 30×20 tin with baking paper.

Sift the flour into a bowl and add in the sugar, baking powder and ginger and then rub in the margarine

Mix the flour, sugar, ginger and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl. Using your fingers, rub the margarine in until it looks like breadcrumbs. Crack and whisk the egg and add this to the dry ingredients along with the honey and water and mix until well combined.

Pour all of this into the lined baking tin and retire to the oven for 35 minutes.

After this time, it should be sponge-y to the touch and if you’re like me, you’ll stick a skewer in to check it comes out clean. And that’s the lot. Let it cool completely before cutting into squares (or haphazard rectangular shapes) and then all you have to do is decide whether to have it with custard, on its own or decadently slathered with butter.

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