Some days are so dark and miserable there is nothing you can do but find a warm place and wait it out.
I want to tell you about the perfect cake for dark days.
This is more than a cake. In fact, it’s hardly a cake at all. It’s dark, almost threatening, in appearance and deeply satisfying, almost bitter, in the eating. The cake hits those tastebuds right at the back of your cheeks while the snowy icing is in perfect contrast.
The cake in question is Nigella Lawson’s Gingerbread Cake from The Domestic Goddess. There is a version of it, with American measurements, here.
I believe that I have tweaked the recipe just enough to merit giving you my version of it. I dare to believe that I have improved the work of the Goddess (it was a fluke, I didn’t have syrup or lemons or unsalted butter and I was just too lazy to blend the bicarb, my way works).
Line a roasting tray (30 x 20 cm). Preheat oven to 170 ºC.
Melt 150g butter (salted works fine for me), 125g dark muscavado sugar, 200g honey (Nigella uses golden syrup), 200g black treacle, an inch of finely grated fresh ginger, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of mixed spice all together in a saucepan.
Look at that.
How often can you see your reflection in a cake batter? This stuff has magical powers, I tell you.
Sieve 300g plain flour and a heaped teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
Mix 250mls of milk and 2 eggs in a jug.
Add everything to the mixing bowl and stir it up.
The bicarbonate of soda starts to work immediately making the mixture look almost alive.
Scrape it into the tray and bake it for 45-55 minutes.
While that is cooling, mix 175g of icing sugar, the zest of 1 lime and enough lime juice to make a thick icing.
I used one and a half limes.
(Nigella uses lemon but I prefer the lime)
Cajole the gooey icing to the edges of the cake and then kill time while you wait for it to set. Inhale the warm ginger and fresh lime smells and know that something very good is just about to happen.
Fold some laundry.
Put guilt to one side. Put the kettle on.
It doesn’t look all that enticing, does it? Trust me. This is a cake for the darkest of days. A solstice cake. It seems spare, not overly indulgent, but it reminds you that there are good things in the world.
This is a cake to make you feel grateful.
I went to bed, after eating a tranche of this cake, to the sound of torrential rain pelting the Velux windows. It sounded as if God was making popcorn.
I opened my eyes in the dark wee hours and took a minute or two to figure out what woke me up. The quiet. Absolute quiet.
This morning, the son shone (briefly).
I grabbed the astonished dog and made a break for it.
Light and dark.
Little Robin Redbreast.
December and I may be friends after all.
I’m tagging along with Emma’s blog hop on Silverpebble. If your days need brightening this is the place to go.
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