They do look a little like jellies but this jar contains pieces of baby ginger that have been cooked in a sugar syrup. Don't be fooled by their harmless appearance, they do contain that warming ginger bite.
While trawling my old magazines for alternative Christmas cake ideas I spotted a recipe for a Stem Ginger Cake by Tom Dooley in, surprisingly, the February 2004 edition of BBC Good Food Magazine. It has those typical Yule spices of ground ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice but an extra kick of richness with its combination of dark brown sugar, treacle and golden syrup.
This is also what I like to call a hot batter cake - I've been making a few of these in recent weeks. The sugar components are heated to just under boiling point before being added to the cake mix. It's a bit nerve wracking as you then add the eggs to this hot batter - my first thoughts was that they would become scrambled eggs but rest assured, the final product more than easier casts away any worries.
Stem Ginger Cake
220 grams self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
110 grams butter, diced
80 grams stem ginger, drained, chopped finely
110 grams dark brown sugar
110 grams black treacle
110 grams golden syrup
1 cup milk
1 egg, lightly whisked
Place the flour, bicarb, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, mixed spice and diced butter into a bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Tip this mix into a large heatproof bowl. Scatter in the finely chopped stem ginger and stir briefly to disperse into the flour.
Put the dark brown sugar, treacle, golden syrup and milk into a saucepan (Hint: to save on washing up, I measure the ingredients directly into the pan, one of the major benefits of having digital scales that can be zeroed after each addiction). Place the saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to bring it just below boiling point. Remove from the heat.
Pour this hot liquid into the dry mixture and using a wooden spoon, stir to combine until all the liquid has been added. Finally, drizzle in the egg, making sure you beat it into the batter. Note: the batter may seem a lot thinner than a regular cake batter but don't worry, it is supposed to have that consistency.
Pour the batter into a buttered and lined 10x28cm loaf pan - bake in a preheated 160° oven until cooked through - it should take about an hour but time will vary according to the pan used.
Cook in the tin before un-moulding.
Decorate the cake with a generous drizzle of lemon icing - this is made with icing sugar, lemon juice and grated lemon rind.
A look inside reveals a wonderful, rich coloured crumb, flecked with ginger pieces. It has an almost sponge like texture but with a lot of residual moistness.