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Belinda Jeffery's Classic Ginger Cake from A Year of Sundays

Sunday 8th November

A classic ginger cake

 

When I drew the blinds earlier this morning, I was greeted by a veil of mist with a few rays of watery sunshine trying to filter through. It was dreamy and I couldn’t help but go outside and watch as the sun burnt through the haze, revealing a world of spider webs sparkling with dew drops. They were everywhere, from tiny, absolutely perfect ones no bigger than my thumbnail to extraordinarily intricate cups, and multi-layered webs that would do an architect proud. In my fascination with them, I nearly missed seeing an exquisite emerald ground dove waddle solemnly across the lawn. Fortunately, he didn’t realise I was there, and for a few minutes I sat spellbound, until in a flurry of astonishing emerald wings, he flew up into a tree. They’re such beautiful birds and rarely seen. In moments like these, I feel incredibly blessed.

 

However, I can’t afford to be too dreamy this morning. I really need to get my skates on as I have rather a lot of cooking to do today. First cab off the rank is a fragrant ginger cake. It’s a recipe I’ve been working on for a long time and when I bought a hand of exquisite, pink-tipped young ginger at the market, this cake immediately sprang to mind. I know I can get a bit obsessive about recipes at times, and I guess I am with this one. Each time I make it, I tweak the ingredients just a little, trying to find that elusive perfect balance of spice and syrup that gives it its wonderful flavour and distinctive texture. My guess is that this is probably version number 17! And I must say, I’m pretty happy with it; the crumb is really light and studded with little chunks of glacé ginger, and the flavour is gingery but not overwhelmingly so. For me, to be quite perfect, it needs to be eaten with a dollop of cream (I think most ginger cakes benefit from this, it just softens the edges of the flavour and texture), but sans cream it still received the tick of approval from my Number One taste tester, so I figure I’m onto a winner! 

Classic Ginger Cake

SERVES 10–12 

 

2 cups (300g) plain flour 

1 tablespoon baking powder 

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon 

1 teaspoon mixed spice 

1 teaspoon ground ginger 

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 

½ teaspoon salt 

60g glacé ginger, very finely sliced, plus extra, finely sliced, to decorate 

160g unsalted butter, at room temperature 

¾ cup (175g) packed brown sugar  

¾ cup (270g) golden syrup 

¼ cup (80g) treacle 

¼ cup (50g) finely grated fresh ginger  

2 × 70g eggs 

¾ cup (180g) sour cream, at room temperature 

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract 

finely grated zest of 1 lime (or lemon) 

icing sugar, for dusting, optional  

softly whipped cream, to serve, optional 

 

 

I love that this cake uses three different forms of ginger – powdered, glacé, and fresh. Each adds its own distinctive flavour and makes the overall taste more complex and rounded. 

 

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Butter a 22cm-square cake tin and line the base and sides with buttered baking paper. Set it aside.  

 

Tip the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mixed spice, ginger, nutmeg and salt into a bowl and whisk together for 1 minute with a balloon whisk so they’re thoroughly aerated and combined. Add the ginger slices and toss them about so they’re well coated in the flour mixture. Set the bowl aside.  

 

Put the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and treacle in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and beat them together on medium speed for about 4 minutes or until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Add the fresh ginger and mix until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Now mix in the sour cream, vanilla and lime zest. If the batter starts to look curdled, add a few spoonfuls of the flour mixture. Finally, tip in the remaining flour mixture and combine it on low speed, but don’t overdo this or the cake will be tough.  

 

Scrape the batter into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly and decorate the top with the extra finely sliced glacé ginger. Pop the cake in the oven for 55 minutes–1 hour or until the centre springs back gently when pressed and a fine skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. 

 

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and leave it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. After this time, sit another rack (or a plate) on top of the cake and quickly invert it onto this. Then sit the original wire rack on top and invert the cake again, so it’s right-side up. Leave the cake to cool completely.  

 

Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate and dust with icing sugar, if using. Serve as is or with a dollop of cream. It keeps well in an airtight container (in fact, I find the flavour and texture improve) for at least 1 week. 

A Year of Sundays

A cookbook, a conversation, and reflections on the world around me

Join Belinda Jeffery for A Year of Sundays as she shares the recipes, musings and memories that inspire her cooking. A collection of Belinda’s much-adored and anticipated Sunday morning Instagram posts accompanied by beautiful recipes, A Year of Sundays is as much a conversation with a friend as it is a cookbook.

Follow Belinda’s gentle guidance through recipes gathered from her cooking school on the Far North Coast of New South Wales, to those crafted from the harvests of local producers and her own garden, and others embellished with the imprint of personal memories.

Cooking from the heart to relish in the beauty of just-picked produce or to simply indulge a craving, Belinda imparts her recipes with both encouragement and genuine joy. From her reassuring instruction in the art of pastry and baking to her relaxed approach to everyday dishes made from the freshest ingredients, A Year of Sundays is a cookbook for all occasions, all kitchens and all cooks.