I know I keep going on about it but autumn is here. The leaves outside my window are changing rapidly from green to red, gold and orange. The colours are particularly spectacular in the early evening sunlight. It is also cold. It’s reached a level of coldness that I now find acceptable and I would really prefer it if it didn’t get any colder. Sadly that is so not the case so I’ve started to go into hibernation mode. I also want to eat only apples, pears and spice cakes. And squash (which should be making an appearance here later this week). Perhaps it is because of this blog, perhaps it is the severe change in season that happens here, I’m not sure but I’ve noticed my eating habits have changed subtly over the last few weeks. Gone are the late summer berries and soft fruits. The light, cream based desserts. In are apples and pears. Lemons and oranges. And a lot of spices. The warm ones. And don’t even think about eating a salad. Warm veggies only please.
Yesterday I got home from a day out in the field. The field is proving to be very challenging at the moment. Never mind that I have absolutely never ever been good at getting up much before 9am and am now required to leave the house before 8am several days a week – there are changes afoot in my project and I’m not yet sure what is going to happen over the next few weeks. I’m nervous and excited about the various prospects but wary too. Half term is next week so I’ve taken two weeks off now so that I can process the last six weeks and plan the evolution of this project. It’s a little intimidating and exhausting when I think of it. So upon arrival home yesterday I decided it was time for ginger cake. A proper loaf cake made with treacle and golden syrup and dark brown sugar. The kind you eat slightly warm with a lot of butter. The kind that reassures you that no matter what else might happen, there is always cake. The kind that actually gets better as it gets older. Reliable cake like this one that does what it is supposed to do in the oven and the fills you up with heat and spice.
This is adapted (loosely) from Annie Bell’s Baking Bible. (I don’t think you will be too surprised to find that I’m going to be making a lot of things from that book over the next few weeks.) It makes a beautiful (in my opinion) loaf cake which, when thickly sliced and covered in these caramelised apples, makes the world seem a pleasant place to spend some time. It has to age overnight so it’s not the kind of cake you can make and eat. Well, I mean, you totally could but it wouldn’t be as good. The ageing process makes the cake sticky and damp. I ate three slices today, only one of which was covered in apples. It’s the kind of cake that every time you enter the kitchen you feel compelled to slice and snack on. I caramelised the apples mainly because I bought some in a fit of healthy eating and then never ate them and they were starting to look forlorn and unloved. I made loads and intend to eat them through the week on porridge. I made this cake with two different sugars rather than just one. I like very dark brown sugar in a loaf like this as it adds to the caramel flavour I think. I also had to add in some self-raising flour in order to have enough flour (reasons why you should check ingredients before starting to bake I guess…)
Adapted from Annie Bell’s Baking Bible
125g unsalted butter
115g black treacle
115g golden syrup
2/3 cup milk
20g golden caster sugar
30g dark brown sugar
180g plain flour
45g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease a loaf tin with a little butter. Place the butter, treacle, syrup, milk and sugars in a saucepan and heat gently until everything is melted. Cool slightly.
Weigh out the flours, ginger and bicarb into a bowl and set aside.
Whisk the treacle mixture into the flour mixture, making sure it’s smooth before adding in the eggs.
Whisk everything thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes.
The cake will spring back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted will come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Then turn it out and wrap it in clingfilm and leave overnight.
Slice and eat with butter or these caramelised apples.
The truth is there isn’t an actual recipe here. I had 6 apples that needed using up so I placed about a tablespoon and a half of butter in a saucepan together with about three tablespoons of dark brown sugar and a splash of sunflower oil. I heated this slowly, melting the sugar until it started to bubble around the edges. I peeled and cored the apples and then sliced them up, tossing them into the caramel mixture. I cooked everything over a low heat for about half an hour, turning the apples every 5 minutes or so. The mixture came to the boil and I turned down the heat. I removed the apples from the heat when they were cooked through – not mushy but further than al dente – and ate them with the ginger loaf.