This weekend, I found myself stranded on the M4 with a broken down car. As if this is not traumatic enough, we then spent an hour and a half on the hard shoulder in the wind and rain awaiting rescue. All of this when we were supposed to be at a very fun party in Bristol with drinks, dancing and a street food pop-up. To add insult to serious injury, I now have a cold and have to write this post from under a blanket, feeling rather sorry for myself.
My only consolation is that there is cake in the kitchen, which is actually something of a rarity as I have only actually made two cakes since the year began, but an extremely well-timed rarity nonetheless. When we arrived home on Saturday with a broken car and ruined shoes, Ollie and I were so fed up that we ended up consoling ourselves in Hisar in East Dulwich with a couple of bottles of wine and an enormous plate of grilled meat. In our distressed states, we ate a little more than we ought to have – with particular overindulgence on the pittas and the shockingly pink, but very tasty, taramasalata – and hence abstained from dessert. The next day, feeling as though something was missing, I got up to see what was in the cupboards with a view of making a cake.
This particular cake is a winter delight, although not especially pretty. It is a hybrid of two cakes: the fig, ginger and spelt cake I made for Band of Bakers in October last year, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Orange, Ginger and Allspice cake. The beauty of the method of the former is that the entire cake is made in one saucepan and then poured into the cake tin to bake in the oven, perfect for those who shirk the washing up. There are two main flavours that come through in this cake: the sharp and slightly bitter orange, and the sweet and warming stem ginger. The spelt contributes little by way of flavour, but the coarser grind of the flour gives it a more robust texture which, when combined with the nuggets of chopped stem ginger and the orange-ginger glaze, make for a cake that is both wholesome and perfectly moist. Its lack of decoration is unlikely to win it any beauty contests, but when doused with some hot vanilla custard, it is a great tonic for the common cold.
Orange, Stem Ginger and Spelt Cake
For the cake
- 180g unsalted butter
- 200g light soft brown sugar
- Juice of one orange
- 3 eggs
- 5 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, chopped
- 200g spelt flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- Finely grated zest of two oranges
- Granulated sugar, for dredging
For the glaze
- Juice of one orange
- 3 tbsp syrup from the stem ginger jar
Preheat the oven to 180ºc / 350ºf / gas 4. Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Once melted, stir in the brown sugar and orange juice until fully combined and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Stir in the eggs, stem ginger, flour, baking powder, ground ginger and orange zest until you have a smooth batter. Pour into the prepared cake tin and level off. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the cake is brown and risen and has started to shrink away from the sides. At this point, a metal skewer, inserted into the middle of the cake, should come out clean.
Meanwhile, mix together the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl. Whilst the cake is still hot from the oven, brush the glaze over the top of the cake, building up several layers. You should use almost all of the liquid. Dredge with a generous amount of granulated sugar and allow to cool, first in the tin for 20 minutes and then on a wire cooling rack. Serve warm with cold custard, or cold with warm custard.