This is probably my ultimate autumn cake – everything that reminds me of being wrapped up warmly, crisp cool air, crunchy leaves and bright blue skies.
I had my heart set on using dates, treacle and ginger (let’s not mention the crystallised ginger I forgot to put in…), but actually couldn’t find a recipe then encompassed all 3 how I wanted. So – loosely based on Caledonian Cakery’s Date and Treacle cake – here is my own created recipe. Best of all, because dates make the majority of the mix – it’s low fat too!
Ingredients (makes 25 generous squares)
250ml boiling water
100g light brown sugar
2 generous tablespoons of treacle
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda
225g plain flour (I used 1/2 wholemeal for an added health kick)
3 tablespoons ginger jam
– put the dates and water in a good-sized saucepan, and heat until the mixture bubbles up, and the dates turn into an unattractive brown much (sorry but it’s true!)
– take off the heat, then add in the butter, sugar, treacle, and ginger
– mix well and TASTE! A very important step – ginger and dates can be very different in flavour and sweetness, so you need to make sure the mixture is sweet enough, and you can taste the ginger coming through. Don’t forget the jam glaze will add a bit of extra ginger flavour
– transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl (the biggest one you’ve got – things are about to get fizzy!) Add the bicarbonate of soda and mix really well. This will cause the mixture to fizz up but don’t worry – keep stirring and it will soon stop.
– add the flour and the eggs, mixing quickly so the warm mixture doesn’t cause the eggs to start cooking
– pour into a greased, lined, 8 inch square (or similar) baking tray. The mixture will be very liquid so don’t worry about trying to level it out too much, it will do this itself
– bake at 180 degrees C for 25 – 30 minutes. Test to see if it’s done by inserting a skewer / cocktail stick or similar, diagonally into the middle. If it comes out completely clean the cake is done. If not, give it another 5 minutes, and re-test, repeating until your tester is free of cake mix. The cake should also be firm and springy i.e. bounce straight back into shape when pressed, your finger shouldn’t leave an indent in the cake.
– when the cake is done, take it out of the oven, but leave in the tin
– prepare your glaze by blending or sieving the jam to remove any lumps – if you are sieving pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds first, it will pass through the sieve much easier
– once your glaze is smooth, microwave for another 15 – 20 seconds until completely liquid, then quickly take a pastry brush and spread all over the cake, before it has a chance to set
– leave the cake in the tin until completely cool / for as long as possible before serving. I’d recommend making the day before if possible so the glaze has time to soak down a bit and set to a shiny, sticky finish
– remove from the tin and paper, cut into generous slices and serves. If it lasts long enough it will keep well in airtight container for up to a week (the glaze helps keep it moist)
Inside the cake should be light, fluffy, and moist…
… and on the top a sweet, sticky, tangy ginger glaze:
And while amazing eaten on its own – or, on a cold autumn evening, also brilliant with hot, creamy custard.
Just because they haven’t featured for a while – here are the cats (no longer kittens, sob!) Chilli and Pepper, enjoying the leftover custard.