Not quite spring yet: spiced pumpkin cake

I found this recipe in the GoodFood calendar that came with the January issue. I’ve been wanting to try this ever since and got my butternut squash ready (luckily, you can keep a butternut for quite a while in a cool dry place) but the recipe only required about half of it. So I needed to wait until my boyfriend was finally persuaded by a pumpkin recipe for dinner so I could use up the other half (that recipe is not worth mentioning – we took two bites and then went for pizza). The great thing about this recipe is that the cake keeps very well and you can freeze it as well.

Heat the oven to 160 C fan and grease and line a 20 cm square tin with baking parchment. Mix 175 g melted and cooled butter with 140 g black treacle, 250 g grated pumpkin (I used butternut squash), 100 g light soft brown sugar and 2 eggs. Now stir in 350 g self-raising flour, 1 tbsp ground ginger, 1 tsp grated nutmeg and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.

Pour into the tin and bake for 35 min until risen and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. When the cake comes out of the oven, spoon over 3 tbsp of ginger syrup (you can really be quite liberal with the syrup so that it sooks up a lot) and leave to cool. If you want, you can freeze the cake wrapped in cling film, then foil. Cut the cake into triangles and decorate with some chopped stem ginger. Enjoy while listening to Firework by Katy Perry.

Use up leftover ginger in ginger and white chocolate cookies, ginger cupcakes or a ginger sponge.

Heartwarming: ginger and white chocolate cookies

Ginger and white chocolate cookiesWinter is really here to stay now, so time to use even more ginger when cooking! This time I’m using candied ginger, most of it for the cookies, some for the chef of course! I found this recipe in my, by now trusted, little French cookie book: Les cookies de Laura Todd. As usual, they got the seal of approval of my colleagues!

Preheat the oven to 140 C and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Cut 150 g candied ginger in small pieces (about 3 to 5 mm large). Mix 250 g softened butter (you can use margarine as well) with 350 g soft brown sugar until fluffy and soft. Add 1 egg and beat well until incorporated. In two batches, add 375 g self-raising flour (or use regular flour and add 1 tsp baking powder as well), a pinch of vanilla powder (I used a small bag of vanilla sugar, you could use 1/2 tsp vanilla extract of the seeds of half a vanilla pod as well) and a pinch of salt and mix well. Add the candied ginger and 375 g white chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

Using an ice-cream scoop, take a scoop of dough and release it on the baking sheet. Flatten it lightly with the back of your hand. Space the cookies well apart as they will spread to a diameter of 8-10 cm (if that’s too big for you, just roll smaller balls with your hands). Put in the oven for 15-20 min. Enjoy!

Winter warmer: ginger cupcakes

Ginger cupcakesFor Christmas, I received a cupcake set from one of my friends. So time to bake some cupcakes! With such fantastic weather, we needed a winter warmer and these cupcakes did just the trick. I found the recipe in my trusted The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. If you’re not a big fan of icing (like me) you can leave out the icing altogether, the cupcakes are delicious without it as well. If, like my boyfriend, you think the icing is the best part then you can go all the way!

First, for the ginger frosting, put 100 ml milk and 1 large piece of fresh ginger (peeled and chopped into 4 chunks) in a jug, cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible. Preheat the oven to 160 C and line a 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases.

Put 120 g plain flour, 140 g caster sugar, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground allspice, a pinch of salt and 40 g softened butter in a bowl and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Add half of 120 ml milk and beat again until just incorporated. Whisk the rest of the milk with 1 egg and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Stir in 200 g chopped stem ginger in syrup (reserve 100 ml of the syrup) by hand until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 min until golden brown. While the cupcakes are baking, pour the reserved ginger syrup and 100 ml water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil until reduced by one-third. When the hot cupcakes come out of the oven, pour a tablespoon of syrup over each one. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before transferring to a wire-rack to cool completely.

For the ginger frosting, beat together 400 g icing sugar, 125 g softened butter and the zest of 1/2 lemon on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to low speed and slowly pour the ginger-infused milk into the butter mixture (discarding the chunks of ginger). Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer to high speed and continue beating for at least 5 min until the frosting is light and fluffy.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the ginger frosting on top and finish with some more chopped stem ginger and lemon zest if you like. Enjoy!

Tip: if you can’t find stem ginger in syrup (in Belgium, try the English supermarket Stone Manor if you need some, they are the only ones that stock it as far as I know), use candied ginger instead. To make the syrup, use 100 ml water, 50 g sugar and a grated thumb-size piece of ginger instead, straining it before pouring on the cupcakes. Or you can just leave out the syrup altogether, your cakes will still be delicious!

Ginger kick

Another Sunday and that means time to bake my dessert for the rest of the week. One small issue: a quick look in the fridge learned that I forgot to buy eggs, and after the bacon and eggs for breakfast, I only had the one egg left. I live in a tiny village, so no shops open on Sunday afternoon… I could go to the neighbours to borrow some eggs, but I already did that a while back and never returned any. Their eggs come from their chicken, so I figured they wouldn’t be interested in my (although free-range) shop bought variety… so maybe not really an option after all. I needed a recipe with only 1 egg! But I really felt like making a ginger sponge… Luckily, a quick look at the recipe showed that I only need 1 egg! Imagine my luck! It doesn’t need many other ingredients either, thanks to the Hairy BikersMums still know best recipe. Here it is:

Ginger sponge
Sticky and delicious

Line a square baking tin or a 28×18 cm baking tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180C. Mix 200 g self-raising flour, 200 g sugar, 1 tsp ground ginger, and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Rub in 55 g soft butter (or margarine) with your fingers, then add 1 beaten egg, 2 tbsp golden syrup and 240 ml hot water. Mix everything together well with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 min. Leave to cool in the tin and cut into squares when cold. Very, very sticky but also very, very delicious! I took the leftovers to work: all my colleagues asked for seconds and within half an hour everything was gone!