Updated: Dec 8, 2020
by Maurice Alexander
As wonderful as it is to spend Christmas with our families, it is disheartening to have our friends at university absent for all the festive activities and from the memories that form during them. Following a month without each other’s company, we’re all so keen to meet all at once to discuss how we coped being back at home, the gifts we were so fortunate to receive, the exam grades we may or may not be so fortunate to receive, and our trepidation for the year ahead. It is for these reasons why I have chosen the following two recipes; both perfect for feeding a group of friends rapacious for both gossip and food; one dish capturing the flavours of winter and the other being quick and entertaining.
The intense flavour of cloves, cinnamon, treacle and ginger contained within this moist cake brings Christmas into January so that you can relive festivities in the company of your friends, making up on that lost celebration.
Ingredients - Serves 10 to 12 people
175g unsalted butter 250ml whole milk
125g muscovado sugar 2 eggs
2 tablespoon of caster sugar 275g plain flour
200ml black treacle 40g cocoa powder
200ml golden syrup 175g 85% cocoa content chocolate
1 and a ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate soda Edible gold dust or icing sugar
2 tablespoons warm water Double cream
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
Begin by measuring all of the ingredients and having them at hand. Pre-heat the oven to 150 Celsius for fan-assisted ovens, 170 Celsius for conventional ovens, and gas mark 3 for gas-powered ovens. Line a large ovenproof dish with parchment. Do not use a standard brownie tray or cake tin for this is a sizable recipe and the cake rises considerably.
In a decent-sized saucepan, melt the butter, sugars, syrups and spices together and remove the heat. Pour in the milk to cool the mix down before beating in the eggs one, as the mix cannot be hot or else the eggs would cook on contact leaving you with syrupy scrambled eggs. Once incorporated, place the bicarbonate soda into a cup with the warm water to dissolve before mixing into the contents of the saucepan. Grate in the dark chocolate into a small bowl and tip into the mix. Despite it being cooled considerably since the addition of the milk, grating ensures that all the chocolate should melt once engulfed by the darkly gleaming liquid. Sieve in the flour to remove any lumps, as the omission of this step may result in floury clumps throughout the body of the cake. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the parchment-lined dish, checking that the depth of the mix meets halfway up the dish’s height or just slightly under. It will have a liquid composition, but all this wetness will ensure that the final product will be deliciously moist.
Place into the centre of the heated oven for 45 minutes. When withdrawn from the oven, the entire surface of the cake should be firm with its body being slightly damp, which is firm up as it cools within the dish. Several precautions and considerations need to be made to prevent the centre of the cake collapsing in on itself. A precaution to prevent the centre of the cake collapsing in on itself is to rest the cake away from open windows to prevent a cold breeze cooling it too quickly. However, I have read that so many factors decide the cake’s ability to support itself, everything from the humidity of the kitchen to the season, so it is down to luck. If fortune falls the other way, do not be dispirited by the sight of a central depression as it makes a perfect solitary pudding. When the flavours of a cake are contained within its sponge like this one, it makes a perfect solitary pudding. I shovel the depression out of the dish place it into a container to sit in the freezer until the urge for flavourful return to the festive period hits. Defrost it in bowl covered with clingfilm and heat in the microwave until bubbling, serving with vanilla ice cream.
Irrespective of the structural integrity of your cake, use an edible gold spray or icing sugar to add decorative touches. The cakes colour will be an absorbing darkness comparable to a Winter’s night which provides a perfect contrast to the glimmering layer of the spray or the white blanket of icing. Winter-themed cake figurines are optional, but encouraged for that special, chintzy feel. Cut into sizable, square slabs and serve with double-cream, unwhipped. I consider the serving of cream to be necessary, as this chocolate-gingercake has an incredible richness and spiced intensity which can be tamed, if one desires, by the white pool of cream.