In recent years I have made a lot of cakes. It all began with the charity cake stall for the BBC Children in Need appeal which we held at work for the first time more than ten years ago. That’s when I started looking for new recipes. Then I joined the Clandestine Cake Club and started my own branch of the CCC in France in 2014. .
My hunger for new and interesting recipes grew and grew and since then I have made an awful lot of cake. Some of them have been, frankly, awful. The truly awful ones have never made it to the blog, but some of the slightly disappointing ones have. Probably the most awful of all was the apple and kale cake I made a few years ago, a cake which led me to two important conclusions. One is that cabbage, unlike some other vegetables, has no place in a cake. The second is that some recipes are eternally popular for a good reason. They work. New recipes and new cook books are to be treated with a certain amount of scepticism.
That doesn’t mean that new recipes are to be avoided. They should most definitely be tried along the lines of “life is an adventure or nothing”, and occasionally up pops an absolute gem. Like this one.
It comes from the Sainsbury’s baking recipe collection volume 2. I have been unable to find the recipe anywhere on the internet so I can’t give a link to the original. In the book it’s called a Ginger Stout Cake but as I used Guinness (the only stout available in our local supermarket in France), I have renamed it. The other reason for renaming it is that it will be up there with my other very favourite cake to make for a birthday, cake stall or any other reason, the Chocolate Guinness Cake by Nigella Lawson.
I have written the recipe here as per the amendments I made to suit the ingredients I could get hold of.
The moment I cut into it I knew it was going to be good. After the first mouthful I thought “wow!”. Nick, who is not a great cake lover, thought it was wonderful, had two slices straight away and banned me from offering it to anyone else so that he could get his fair share of the rest, something previously unheard of.
The cake was moist, soft, deliciously spiced and strong on ginger flavour. With the slightly glossy glaze from the ginger syrup and dotted with diced stem ginger, it looked classy and grown up and needed no other decoration. I urge you to try it!
200g unsalted butter
200ml Guinness (or other stout)
200g caster sugar
50g dark soft brown sugar
3 tbsp black treacle
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp mixed spice
2 large eggs
75ml natural yoghurt*
300g self raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the topping
3 balls of preserved stem ginger, diced
3 dessert spoons syrup from the jar
Put the Guinness, sugars, butter, treacle, ground ginger and mixed spice into a large saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted, without letting it boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°fan / gas mk 4. Butter and line a 23cm round, deep springform cake tin.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yoghurt and milk, then pour the cooled sugar mixture into the bowl. Sift in the flour and bicarb and, using an electric whisk, beat until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about an hour until done. The cake should lose its wobble in the middle but not be too firm.
Remove from the oven and whilst still warm drizzle over the ginger syrup and dot with the diced ginger. Cool in the tin and remove when cold.
(*The original recipe uses 100ml buttermilk but I substituted a mixture of yoghurt and milk.)
Cuts into 12-16 slices, but allow two slices each!