Tuesday, May 15
I never really got ginger. Growing up, I solely thought of ginger in two forms: crystallised, which I lumped in the same category as cubed, candied citrus peel and other things that a young girl simply doesn’t want to find in her baked goods; and the kind covered in dark chocolate. My mum loved this stuff. I could buy that for her to accompany any gift, and know that she would enjoy it, but also that no one else in the house would sneakily reach into that box. It was strictly her thing. I mean, chocolate covered ginger. Really?! Why would I want something that’s strangely firm and stringy and spicy getting all up in my chocolate?
But soon, like olives and avocados (how did I live without these two things in my life?!), ginger and I became the best of friends. I adore gingerbread. I love freshly grated ginger in just about anything. But more than anything else, I love ginger in cake-form—a wintery ginger pudding, or a fluffy ginger cupcake smothered in cream cheese, or a dense and sticky ginger cake.
This cake gets its richness and spiciness from both cardamom and ginger, and a combination of pomegranate molasses (hello, love) and treacle, but the baking soda and buttermilk make it surprisingly light. It’s created in just one bowl, so quickly and easily. And it will fill your house with such a wonderful, warm aroma. I could go on, although I doubt I need to.
Recipe from Autumn issue of Donna Hay
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
100 gms butter, melted
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cardamom
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
¼ cup caster sugar
Heavy cream, to serve.
Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly grease a 24cm round cake tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
Place the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, molasses, treacle and butter in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the ginger, cardamom, flour and baking soda and again, whisk to combine. Pour the wonderfully dark mixture into the prepared tin, and bake for about an hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is cooking, prepare your pomegranates. I find the easiest way is to roll the pomegranates on a hard surface (your bench-top, conveniently!) before cutting them. This is supposed to slightly loosen the seeds from the membrane, making it easier to get them free—this makes a very satisfying crackling sound as the seeds get squashed out of their neat little pockets. Cut each pomegranate in half, hold one half over a bowl (placed in your kitchen sink, if possible), with the cut-side facing down, and bang the back of a pomegranate with a wooden spoon. If you don’t mind getting your hands a little messy and stained, pulling apart the membrane further helps trapped seeds find their way out. Trial and error, I suppose.
When you’re done, and suitably cleaned up, strain the seeds and reserve the juice. Add the caster sugar to this juice, and mix until dissolved.
When the cake is cooked, pour the pomegranate-sugar mixture over the warm cake while it’s still in the tin, then allowing it to cool completely. Remove it from the tin and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds. It’s even more heavenly served with a nice heavy cream.
You need to get on this cake, and quickly. The pomegranate season here is over in a flash. These days, you can but the aril separately, but where’s the fun in that? Because this cake is so quick and easy, banging on a pomegranate and getting a bit messy is no trouble at all.
Recommended baking soundtrack: The Glove – Mr Alphabet Says, on repeat.