Got your attention, didn't I?
Actually, this is a recipe for a gorgeous, sticky ginger cake rather than a more grow-up kind of nighttime naughtiness. I've titled the post Stickiness at Midnight because I decided to make this while we were watching Big Love, so it wasn't ready to eat until a couple of minutes after 12:00. Totally the best midnight snack possible.
When I was coming up through the British state school system during the '80s, our school dinners consisted of the typical grey roast beef, rubbery potatoes, congealed gravy and Spam fritters. Even the puddings were an abomination, consisting of pink (can somebody explain this one to me?) rice puddings and semolina. Every once in a while, we'd have a piece of warm golden syrup or ginger cake swimming in plastic custard which, as a kid, was like the pinnacle of sloppy decadence.
I have never stopped loving ginger cake, even though the ones found now in c0ffee shops and bakeries are a far tastier alternative to those institutional ones of my youth.
This recipe produces an incredibly sticky, light, yet dark cake with a sultry spiciness which is cut through by a drizzle of tart lemon icing. You can definitely leave the icing off and serve with warm vanilla custard for a grown-up version of old-fashioned English childhood.
Gooey Stem Ginger Cake With Lemon Drizzle
Takes 1 hour, 20 minutes +cooling Serves 8
250g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp +1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp salt
125g cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
125g dark muscovado sugar
125g treacle (molasses)
125g golden syrup or corn syrup
2 tbsp syrup from the step ginger jar
120g stem ginger, finely grated
225ml whole milk
For the icing:
70g icing (confectioners') sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 160C/320F for a fan oven or 180C/375F Conventional Put a Pyrex bowl full of boiling water on the bottom of the oven
Grease and line an 23cm/9" round or square cake tin or a loaf tin
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices and add to the bowl of a food processor, along with the butter. Pulse this lot together for about 30 seconds until you have the consistency of bread crumbs. This can also be done by hand in a bowl using your fingertips.
In a small saucepan, heat the treacle, golden syrup, brown sugar and milk, stirring periodically until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is beginning to boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Mix the grated ginger into the flour mixture, then pour the warm syrup mixture over the flour, stirring as you go. You'll notice a lot of bubbles as the hot sugar hits the bicarb, so you want to move fairly quickly, as this is going to add quite a lot of lift to the final cake and the clock is ticking. When the mixture is nearly completely combined, stir in the syrup from the stem ginger jar and the egg. Stir for a few seconds more until the mixture is mostly smooth, then pour into your prepared cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for 50-60 minutes.
The best way to check for doneness is to test the internal temp. You want about 98C/210F
but if you don't have a probe thermometer, a skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre should come out mostly clean.
Allow to cool almost all the way before turning out onto a plate and drizzling with the icing.
To make the drizzle, have the icing sugar in a small bowl and add the half of the lemon juice, stirring and adding more a few drops at a time until you have a just-pourable consistency. Add the lemon zest and stir through, then pour or spoon over the still ever so slightly warm ginger cake. Serve immediately or at room temp.
If you plan on freezing, don't ice until you have defrosted it. Well-wrapped this cake should last a few weeks in the freezer (but seriously, who freezes cake?)