Monday, July 30, 2012


I've long been a fan of ginger. I enjoy it in just about any form - pickled, crystallised, in its beer or ale variety or ground up and baked in cakes. Up until recently I had a pretty cast iron stomach when it came to motion sickness but apparently it's good for that too and for nausea, something patients undergoing chemotherapy can benefit from. That's why I take it to my Dad. Coated in dark chocolate or crystallized, its a small something I can do to help in the face of big uncertainty.

Sometimes when the ground shifts underneath with the disorientation that illness can bring the best path to tread is a familiar one. It requires less cautious navigation and a sense of firmer footing. I think this is why despite owning so many cook books I tend to turn to the same few again and again:
Homecooked: Favourite recipes from Australian kitchens
The Australian Women's Weekly Classic Cakes
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Leftover Makeovers by Sally Wise

Reading and cooking from these books is like meeting up with old friends. They might not be the most gourmet or fancy of tomes but there's something in each of them that speaks to me when I wander into the kitchen and think about turning on the oven and creating something comforting or nourishing.

Writing this now I just realised, they were all given to me as gifts (by a former boss, a childhood friend, Kristian and his sister respectively) which makes them even more special.

In search of the reassurance that familiar things can bring, I thought for this month's cooking club challenge - a dish from your current favourite recipe book - what better than ginger cake from a well loved cake book.

Ginger Cake with Caramel Icing
Adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Classic Cakes

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups self-raising wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 Tbs ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
250g butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or half a cup yogurt, half a cup milk)
1/2 cup golden syrup

Caramel icing
60g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs milk
3/4 cup icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced and grease a square cake tin.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add in all your remaining ingredients and beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until well combined. If using a mixer, crank up the speed and beat the mixture for an additional few minutes or until it is smooth and pale.

Pour the mixture into your pan and bake for approximately 1 1/4 hours. Stand the cake in your pan for about ten minutes and then cool on a rack.

Meanwhile make your caramel icing by stirring butter, brown sugar and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in sifted icing sugar. Spread over the cooled cake and cut into slices or squares. Share with loved ones.

To see what wonderful things the other cooking club members cooked up this month, check out the links below:
Lucent Imagery (cooking club host)
Down by the Sea
Anything Squirrel Squirrel
Chi Garden
Under Lock and Key  


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