Friday, March 15, 2013

Ginger Cake (The Schmuck with the 20 Bucks)

This is a big cake. A celebration cake. I had originally intended to make it for my mum for her birthday, but then I got carried away by a 12 course degustation, and everyone knows big cakes have no place in the tiny world of degustation.
It has inner beauty (photo courtesy Jason Thomas)

So I’m not quite sure how I ended up making it not with the intention to eat it, but to donate it to the school cake stall.

My beautiful celebration cake. At a cake stall. State election. Whoopy doo.

Part of me thinks that beautiful cakes belong on the cake stall. Who has ever rocked up to their local school, clutching a handful of cash and then stared at a trestle table of packet cakes and plainly iced butter cakes. It makes you sad.
Luckily I had three half-empty bottles of golden syrup in the cupboard
Before I had kids, I used to love election day, not because I particularly liked voting, but I always knew the local school would have a cake stall. But before I had kids, looking at a box of cupcakes that had obviously been decorated by a six year old used to make me shudder.

Now I have kids I still love election day for the cake stall, except now I have to work on the damn cake stall, and I’m not so traumatised about a cake decorated by a child. Let’s be honest, they’re a lot more generous with the lollies than we are.

But it’s always nice to find a special cake on election day, and I think this one meets the mark.

Golden syrup and brown sugar. Eggs and flour. Ginger and cinnamon. That’s pretty much it.

The recipe book describes it as fudgy and best baked the day before to let the flavours develop. Sounded perfect to me.

Because I needed the oven for dinner I thought I would make the cake after lunch. I thought there would be plenty of time before heading to school to collect my eldest.

I took my time.

I stopped to play with the baby.

I stopped to help dress a Barbie doll.

I stopped to check my email.

I didn’t read the recipe properly. Again.

That 40-50 minutes baking time, on closer inspection actually said 80 to 90 minutes cooking time. Almost an entire hour extra.

It came out of the oven just as the school bell rang

 Making it was simple enough, except for the fact it was such a big cake, my largest tin proved a bit inadequate and the cake began overflowing the tin.

A generous layer of lemon icing fixed that, and I must admit I was quite impressed with the finished result. It was a pity I wouldn’t get to try it though. I bundled it in to a box and put it under the pram for the walk to school.
Cake box stylishly decorated by Miss Five
The Awesome Grandparents were joining us. On arrival at the cake stall I handed over my box, it was opened and perused and $20 written on the lid in big black texta.  Twenty bucks? It was a stupendous cake but what schmuck was going to pay twenty bucks for it at a school cake stall?

Turns out that schmuck was me. My mother-in-law who hadn’t previously seen the cake at home, wandered past and stopped in front of my cake. ‘That one!,’ she said to the lady manning the stall.  She opened her purse to discover she didn’t have enough cash. Fair enough, who expects to spend 20 bucks at a school cake stall?

So I fished through my wallet and pulled out a twenty and handed it over. 

My cake went back under the pram and I wheeled it home again.

My thoughts
Don't try and hide a sunken middle by filling it with icing. It doesn't work
This was a lovely moist cake, although it probably could have spent ten minutes less in the oven and been happier for it.  It is more of a spice cake than just a ginger cake, but it would be delicious with a spiced cream or a cinnamon icecream.

Worth the $20. And it goes to a good cause.

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