The proper gingerbread cake is a little like the English Christmas cake: it’s supposed to mature before being baked and mature after baking so you might as well get it going in February. The amount of sugar it contains is staggering, albeit under the guise of honey, golden or maple syrup, molasses, treacle and whatever else not. It weirdly doesn’t transfer into taste though, sweet obviously but gingerbread cake is not sickly. I guess the sweetness is balanced by the amount – also staggering – of the spices and their secret balance.
My past experience with gingerbread is quite abysmal, gingerbread cookies discounted: those are a huge success every time. But they are a cinch, melted butter and honey stirred into flour and the toughest task is combining the spices.
The one previous gingerbaking occasion was a spectacular disaster featuring a minor in-oven volcano eruption, with flights worldwide not affected but only just. I overestimated the tin capacity. I underestimated the rising of the cake. There was far too much black goo, presumably the molasses separating from the batter. Basically, the recipe I followed was crap.
I can’t trace it back which is a shame as I might test my modern day abilities; or potentially write off my new oven which makes it fortunate. The recipe I used here comes from NY Times Cooking with the sugar content somewhat cut down and the technique simplified. It is foolproof and poses no vulcanological risk. It is festive, and sweet, and tart, and spicy, and something totally perfect for those freaks like me who detest Christmas pudding and fruit cake.