Sunday, 3 January 2010

Fond memories of British Rail

As predicted, I've neglected this blog, but that's not to say I haven't been baking. Indeed, over Christmas and New Year I've spent many happy hours pottering about the kitchen, and here's a start in noting it down.

This gingerbread recipe is probably my most requested, and if I'm asked for it midwinter I can usually reel it off from memory - not that unusual, I'm sure, and I don't think people asking for recipes are in a position to judge the quirky memory skills of others. But I digress. This recipe comes from Linda Collister's Bread Book via Food from the Place Below and How to Eat. Collister herself tentatively attributes the recipe to British Rail. Whatever its origins, its cookbook pedigree should be inducement enough to give it a try...

It was only when I came to write this recipe down that I realised I use a bastardised version - and that I use metric or imperial measures depending on the equipment I have to hand. So, I use the spicing and the metric measurements from the Place Below but always include the grated stem ginger suggested by Nigella (I don't bother weighing it, but use three pieces straight from the jar).


225g (8oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
grating of nutmeg
100g (4oz) butter
3 pieces/45g stem ginger
100g (4oz) light muscovado sugar
300ml (1/2 pint) milk
100g (4oz) treacle
100g (4oz) golden syrup
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180°C (GM4). Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin (or use a silicon mould and do neither - if using silicon bakeware, put a baking sheet in the oven and rest the mould on this when baking to help cook the bottom of the cake).
In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the milk; in another saucepan, melt together the syrup and the treacle. Let both cool to blood temperature (or thereabouts). In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, bicarb and spices. Rub in the butter. Grate in the stem ginger. Mix in first the milk/sugar mixture, then the syrup/treacle mixture, then the egg. The mixture will have a batter-like consistency. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Wrap it in greaseproof paper and it'll keep in a cake tin for several days (willpower dependent).