Ginger is a flavour I've only recently come to appreciate in baking. Perhaps because in childhood it was associated most strongly with gingerbread, which in turn was associated most strongly with Hansel and Gretel, who were punished for nibbling on a house made of it by being almost cooked alive by a witch.
This isn't a gingerbread though - it's lighter, and more light-hearted than that, containing as it does, a whacking big amount of golden syrup and a rich, buttery frosting. This is cake, make no mistake - sticky and squidgy, sweet and indulgent... There's something quite wonderful about the fusion of adult flavours (ginger, lemon, cloves, pistachios) with those of childhood (golden syrup, icing sugar, cinnamon). A bit like having your cake and eating it too. With no fear of witches.
Ginger cake with lemon and pistachio icing
Adapted from a recipe by Neil Perry, as published in the Sydney Morning Herald
This keeps really nicely and could easily be made in advance, especially if icing and cake are kept separate til ready to serve.
for the cake
1 cup golden syrup
3/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons bicarbonate (baking) soda
2 large eggs
100g finely grated ginger
for the icing
125g salted butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing (confectioners') sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon pouring cream
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
Line base and sides of a 22cm diameter round spring-form cake tin with baking paper, allowing a 2cm border above the top of the tin.
Combine golden syrup, sugar and oil in a bowl and mix well. Mixture will separate into layers. Set aside.
Sift flour, cinnamon and cloves together into a bowl and set aside.
Bring 1 cup of water to the boil in a saucepan, add bicarb soda and stir gently into sugar mixture til well combined, then stir in ginger. Gradually whisk in sifted flour mixture then add eggs one at a time and mix well.
Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake at 170 deg C for 60 minutes or til a skewer inserted into cake comes out clean.
Stand in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
For the icing, whip the butter with the paddle attachment in a mixer, add icing sugar, one cup at a time, beating continuously on a low speed. Add lemon zest and juice, beating til smooth. Gradually pour in cream til mixture is of easily spreadable consistency.
Ice the cake and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.