Bonfire Night chez us was another roaring success this year. Due mainly to the efforts of my Pa in building the epic construction; my Mum in organising sleeping arrangements for 35; and our remote neighbours for making numerous, stickily good cakes. I’d like to think I played my part too in making several vats of bacon-encrusted Boston Baked Beans (which had been baked in the oven for almost 5 hours and were truly, heartily divine, even if I do say so myself) and several other bits and pieces, all of which were steadily devoured throughout the day by a stream of arriving guests.
One little diamond (or perhaps not-so-little) which kept many, many hungry travellers topped up until the evening’s festivities was my Ginger and Prune Cake, which was obligatorily served with a wedge of crumbling white cheese.
The recipe for this cake is one which I adapted ever so slightly from Sophie Grigson, the only alteration I made being the addition of a handful of large, sticky prunes. Serves 8 to 10.
Plain flour – 280g
Bicarbonate of soda – 1 tsp
Ground ginger – 1 tbsp
Ground cinnamon – 1 tsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Unsalted butter – 170g softened
Light Muscovado sugar – 90g
Golden syrup – 220g
Large eggs – 1
Milk – 200ml
Preserved ginger in syrup – 4 pieces, chopped
Stone-in prunes – 10, stones removed and chopped into large pieces
Turn on the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/gas mark 4. Grease all over and line the base of a 20cm square cake tin or rectangular tray of about that size. The base-lining in greaseproof paper really is a must, since subsequent attempts at this without greaseproof were – although delicious – not my most attractive creations.
Sift the flour into a bowl, together with the bicarb, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt, and set aside. In another, larger bowl, cream together the butter and light Muscovado until light and creamy. Next, add the golden syrup to the butter mixture, beating well, before adding a tablespoon of the flour mixture, followed by the egg.
Once these have been incorporated, add the remaining flour mixture, then the milk, and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the chopped ginger and prunes and pour the batter into the cake tin.
Bake in the centre of the oven for around 1hr 15 mins, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. You will probably need to cover the cake after around 45 minutes to stop the top from browning too much.
When the cake is ready, leave it to cool in its tin for about 10 minutes and then carefully turn out and let it sit on a wire rack until it is completely cold.
Now, before you think about eating it, something of a plea: whatever you do, don’t eat it straight away. Once the cake is cold, wrap it well in greaseproof paper, then a layer of foil and stick it in a tin and forget you ever baked it. That is, for a day or two, anyway.
The flavour improves and the cake gets sticker and then, when you eat it, you will thank me.
Serve with a wedge of Lancashire or Wensleydale cheese. Yes, you do have to.