One of my favourite childhood memories has to be that of baking at the weekend with my either my Mum or my Nan (well, that and making pompoms from a ball of wool and two cardboard rings). There are many things you bake as children that never return later in life – like Pineapple Upside Down cake – but there are certain rules of baking that are instilled in you for life.
The one thing I will never forget is the formula for making a basic sponge – mostly because it would be concerning if I forgot that it requires equal parts of butter, flour, sugar and eggs. In the UK the general, imperial, rule was always that an average egg weighs about an ounce, so that’s how much you’d need of the other ingredients for each egg you used.
A ‘normal’ sized Victoria Sandwich in my childhood was done using a 6:6:6:3 mix but by adulthood I was definitely more of an 8:8:8:4 man… I’ve since learned that the Americans call the same recipe “pound cake” on the basis that you’d use 1lb of each ingredient but I can’t imagine under what circumstances you’d ever want to make such a large cake… up to 16 eggs in one recipe? Yikes!
Anyway, this recipe is based on that same basic method, enhanced with a few extra flavours in the form of lemon (juice & zest) and ginger (ground and preserved). The beauty with a basic cake recipe is that you can mix and match the flavours as much as you like when you want it to be a bit special or you can enjoy it in its base form when you want something familiar.
The addition of a zesty, warming drizzle – that soaks into the cake as it cools – only serves to add more flavour and moisture to the finished cake making it an absolute delight to eat when you don’t have a cup of tea in the vicinity. Not that you always need a cuppa alongside a slice of cake – it’s just better when you do.
- 225 g Butter softened
- 225 g Caster Sugar
- 4 large Free Range Eggs
- 1 Lemon zested
- 1 tsp ground Ginger
- 225 g Self-raising Flour
- 100 g Caster Sugar
- 2 pieces of Preserved Stem Ginger cut into thin strips
- 1 tbsp Syrup from Preserved Stem Ginger jar
- 2 Lemons juiced
Preheat the over to 180°C. Line a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment.
Cream together the caster sugar and softened butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy - this will take a few minutes even with an electric mixer but is essential to get a light cake.
Pour the beaten eggs into the bowl and beat again until well combined, then add in the lemon zest and stir it through the mixture.
Sift in the flour and ground ginger and fold together until well combined, but don't beat it as you don't want to overwork the mixture.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. When cooked remove from the oven but leave in the tin.
Put the caster sugar into a bowl then add in the lemon juice and stir well until the sugar has started to dissolve, then pour in the ginger syrup and the thin strips of stem ginger.
While the cake is still warm make several small hole with a skewer then gently spoon over the syrup mixture. The holes will allow the juice and flavour to penetrate into the cake, leaving a sugary crust on the outside.
Use the strips of ginger to create a decoration in the middle.
Once fully cooled remove from the tin and enjoy. You can store it in an airtight container for a few days too.