Happy New Year! After Christmas, I have something of a baking come-down after the joy of all the festive ingredients and making. I was craving something warmly spiced and just a little decadent – as well as wanting to use up a few last Christmassy ingredients, like the marzipan lurking in the back of the fridge. This chocolate spice cake ticks all those boxes: comfortingly sticky like a traditional ginger cake, fragrant with cinnamon, studded with marzipan, chocolate and dates. In his beautiful new book, Nigel Slater describes it as ‘chocolate spice cake that smells of fairy tales’. He’s not wrong there – and if this magical cake doesn’t banish the January baking blues, I don’t know what will. To make it, you will need:
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mace, if you have it
250g self-raising flour
100g chocolate (I did a wee bit less – and Nigel uses dark but I prefer milk!)
200g dates, stoned
200g golden syrup
125g muscovado sugar
3 balls crystallised ginger (I used stem and crystallised on the top!)
70g candied orange peel (I used more ginger/ marzipan)
2 large eggs
3 lumps preserved ginger in syrup (I used crystallised).
Grease and line a 24cm square baking tin. Mix together the spices and flour and set aside. Roughly chop the chocolate, marzipan and dates and set the oven to 180C/ Gas 4. Put the golden syrup, butter and sugar into a small pan and melt over a moderate heat.
Add the ginger and candied peel, if using, and let the mixture bubble for a minute or so before removing from the heat.
Pour the flour into the butter and sugar mixture (or vice versa), stirring firmly.
Beat the eggs with the milk and add to the rest of the mixture. Fold in the chocolate, dates and marzipan.
Pour into a lined tin (the mixture will be runny, rather than cake-like) and bake for 40 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted comes out clean.
Leave to settle and cool before removing from the tin and cooling completely on a wire rack. Melt the chocolate. Cut the cake into equal squares, pulled slightly apart from each other, and spoon the melted chocolate over them, letting some trickle down the sides.
Cut the ginger into small dice and sprinkle over the top of the cakes. Let the chocolate set before eating. They will keep in an airtight container for a few days.
What are you baking this weekend? How are you beating the January baking blues?