Sticky Jamaican ginger cake
I was born in Britain, not Jamaica. I would love to give you stories of how I would sit with the family in Kingston on a balmy evening while a cake baked in the oven, but it’s not so. The first time I ate gingerbread was in Ladbroke Grove in the 1990s. There was a tiny restaurant on All Saints Road – basically a Jamaican lady’s front room – serving the most awesome food and cakes. It’s not traditional for gingerbread, but I like to use stem ginger.
250ml buttermilk or 250ml whole milk and juice of ½ lemon 225g self-raising flour 4 tsp ground ginger good pinch of ground nutmeg 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 115g butter, cold and cut into cubes (I use salted) 115g dark brown sugar 115g black treacle 115g maple syrup, plus extra 1 tbsp for brushing on top 2 x 2cm stem ginger pieces, drained and finely chopped (about 2 tbsp) 1 egg
EQUIPMENT 1.2 litre loaf tin
1 If you’re making your own buttermilk, put the milk and lemon juice in a jug and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. 2 Preheat the oven to 170C (fan 150C/325F/ gas 3) and line the loaf tin with baking parchment. I usually put a strip along the whole length of the tin, making sure that it comes well over the edges. This makes it easy to remove the loaf when it is cooked. 3 Tip the flour into a large bowl and stir in the ground ginger, nutmeg and bicarbonate of soda. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. 4 Put the sugar in a pan with the treacle, maple syrup and buttermilk and heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat and bring the mixture up to just below boiling point, then stir in the stem ginger. 5 Pour the sugar and buttermilk mix into the spiced flour and butter mix and then quickly stir together with a wooden spoon. Break in the egg and then beat until it is just combined and thick. 6 Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tin, using a spatula to make sure you get all the batter out of the bowl. Bake the loaf in the oven on the middle shelf for 55 minutes-1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. 7 Once the loaf is baked, remove it from the oven and brush the top with the tablespoon of maple syrup. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then cut the sticky Jamaican ginger cake into slices to serve.
NOTE The oven temperature for this recipe is lower than for most cake recipes, but this is because it bakes for a long time.