It’s struck me recently that as you get older, you not only find surprising things you’re good at, but also things you’re truly, woefully bad at. I always thought that one day I’d just discover something I had a natural talent for – say, gardening (nope), or baking bread (also nope). In another life, I might have been able to grow my herbs and then whack them into a really impressive artisan loaf. Alas, it’s not to be.
In the last year, I’ve discovered that I’m excellent at navigating the tube network when tipsy, but awful with London buses, even when sober; that I cannot for the life of me paint any of my nails without looking like I was at an explosion in a paint factory; and that I’m completely useless at making icing.
With that in mind…here’s a cake with icing on top. As you can see in the pictures, I made it really thin. We’ll call it a glaze now, and actually that’s all the cake needed. A happy mistake, as it turns out. Hurrah for accidentally being alright at something.
225g plain flour
4 tsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tbsp nutmeg
3 tsp ginger preserve or 2 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
Zest of 1/2 large orange
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g butter, softened
70g dark brown sugar
70g light brown sugar
4 tbsp black treacle
200g icing sugar, sifted (a boring task, but a necessary one)
2 tbsp + 0.5 tsp water
3.5 tsp orange juice
Zest of 1/4 large orange
1) Preheat oven to 170C and line a 12″ by 9″ baking tin with baking parchment. Whisk together the flour and spices (why whisk it?), then stir in the ginger, and orange zest. Plonk the bicarbonate of soda in the milk and mix it in.
2) Cream the butter, margarine, and sugars until light and fluffy; then beat in the treacle and, one at a time, eggs.
3) Gradually beat the flour mixture in, followed by the milk. The milk will probably change the appearance of the mixture so that it looks bitty and kind of curdled – that’s fine. Pour it into the prepared tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake on the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool before neatening up the edges (yeah of course you get to eat the bits you cut off).
4) Use a fork to mix together the icing sugar, water, orange juice, and zest until smooth. When the cake has completely cooled, pour the glaze over it, using a palette knife or the back of a spoon to push it to the edges. Allow the glaze to dry out a bit and cut into squares (6 x 4) to serve.
The cake will keep in an airtight container for about 4 days, and is better after a day or 2!