Last week I started to get a craving for the soft, sticky, moist ginger cake. I suppose it was the chilly weather that brought this craving along. However, once again I was stuck in terms of how to make it gluten free. My first attempt was a complete fail, it was dry and dull. I couldn’t bear the feeling of baking such a bad cake, the perils of being a perfectionist baker. So I settled on my staple ingredient for gluten free baking, ground almonds.
On my hunt for inspiration I came across some visually beautiful ginger cake recipes that used gluten-free flour such as Gluten Free on a Shoestring and Intolerant Gourmet, but I just couldn’t get my ginger cake to reach the right texture that I wanted. I also felt like it was lacking that warm ginger kick I wanted. So I settled back to using ground almonds and polenta, which I mistakenly stumbled across when I was baking a cake that actually wanted ‘fine’ polenta, otherwise known as cornmeal. However, the normal polenta produced a very unique texture to my cake which I loved and now use for many other recipes.
What makes this cake is the Stem Ginger which I got from Tesco’s. The Stem Ginger is soaked in sugar syrup and has a jelly like consistency. Some pieces are quite tough to cut unless you get the right direction when cutting, just like how fresh ginger can be. Another prominent flavor in this cake is the butter, it’s very buttery making it a perfect cake for this winter coming. It will give you a good hug!
Now for the polenta, don’t make the mistake of getting cornmeal (fine polenta) like I did, it made this cake dry and stodgy. Use the normal polenta which is used a lot in Italian cooking and can be bought from all supermarkets. This cake it quite large so I used a 9 inch square tin, alternatively use a deep cake tin. And my last tip, learnt from my mistake of not putting grease proof paper in the base of the tin which results in the obvious, your cake not coming out well and half of the cake being stuck in the tin. So, have more patience than I did and use grease proof paper!
250g unsalted butter (room temperature)
50g caster sugar
50g golden caster sugar
130g treacle (about 5/6 tblsp)
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla paste
300g stem ginger in syrup
icing sugar (to dust)
1. Set the oven to 180C/Gas 3 and grease your tin, then put some grease proof paper int he bottom of the tin. Get a sieve and a bowl and pour all of the stem ginger through, letting the syrup drip through the sieve into the bowl and leave to one side. If you wish leave two balls aside for decoration.
2. Now whisk the butter, sugars and treacle until light. Once this is done then add one egg at a time till all 6 are mixed in.
3. Fold in all the polenta, then fold in all the ground almonds along side the baking powder, ground ginger and vanilla paste. Try to fold quickly but gently.
4. Now get the stem ginger and cut them up in to small pieces. Some of the balls can be quite hard to slice, so try slicing in different directions until you get the soft point. Remember to leave two balls aside for the decoration. Transfer the chopped ginger in to the mix and fold in.
5. Pour all of the mixture in to the greased tin and cook for about 30 minutes (checking after 20 minutes with a knife) Once baked take out from the oven, ease from the cake tin and transfer on to a wired rack. Whilst the cake is still hot drizzle 3/4 of the syrup all over the top of the cake, letting it soak in. You can use all of the syrup if you wish, I just thought it was a little too much.
6. Leave to fully cool then dust with icing sugar and add the last few chopped balls of stem ginger.
© Amelia Hallsworth – Photography, Coffee, Food & Recipes 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amelia Hallsworth – Photography, Coffee, Food & Recipes with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.