What’s all this got to do with an allotment? I hear you cry. Well, I’m trying to make cakes with a link to allotment produce where I can. I’ve made these tasty blackberry and coconut squares, a Victoria sponge with jam made using homegrown strawberries (tenuous, I know!) and at the weekend, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s quince and ginger cake.
My wife described this as ‘…a beast of a cake’ – it’s sticky, indulgent, and very satisfying, which is just what you want after a ride in the soaking October rain. It is a faff though, taking me over 3 hours from start to finish, but the cake’s well worth the hassle.
Not that I’m one to question the God-like genius that is HFW, but if I made the recipe again I’d go easier on the ginger to maximise the fragrant quince flavour.
For the poached quinces:
2 large quinces
160g caster sugar
160g runny honey
Fresh ginger, approx. the size of a thumb, peeled and finely chopped.
Juice of a lemon.
For the cake mix:
250g plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
180g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
100g crème fraiche
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 balls stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped.
For the topping:
3 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar
3 tbsp of the quince poaching liquid
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1. Grease a 20-23cm x 5cm round, spring-form cake tin with margarine, and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
2. Prepare the poaching liquid by mixing the honey, lemon juice, fresh ginger, and 160g of the caster sugar in a large pan. Bring to the boil.
3. Whilst the poaching liquid is boiling, peel, quarter and core the quinces. Cut each quarter into slices about 1cm wide and put them into the pan. Quinces lose their colour extremely quickly, but putting the slices straight into the poaching liquid preserves them.
4. Simmer the quince for about an hour and a half on low heat, until very tender and orangey colour. Stir occasionally.
5. When the fruit is soft and orange, drain in a colander, reserving the poaching liquid. Let the quince cool, but reduce the poaching liquid in a small pan until it thickens (you can do this step the night before if you can’t be bothered to spend three hours cooking a cake. Just store the fruit in the fridge overnight). At this point, heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.
6. Whilst the quince is cooking, sift the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl.
7. Using a food mixer, beat the sugar and 180g of the caster sugar until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add the egg yolk and mix again. Mix in three tablespoons of the flour, the crème fraiche, and vanilla extract. Add the rest of the flour, the poached, drained quince, and the chopped ginger and mix well.
8. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top. Bake for an hour and a quarter, checking the cake after an hour. If the cake is browning too quickly at this point, cover with foil. When a knife is inserted into the cake and comes back out clean, the cake is ready.
9. Mix together the ginger syrup and thickened poaching liquid to make a glaze. Pierce about ten holes all over the top of the cake with a skewer, and brush with the glaze. The liquid will trickle down into the holes to moisten the cake even more. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top of the cake, and leave to cool.
Final Words of this Ginger Cake…
I’ve gone and done it and chopped in my car. I now have an estate. I’m not sure how this happened, but with impending fatherhood ahead, I’m now seemingly a proper grown-up.
Proper grown-ups worry about things like miles per gallon, especially when this particular proper grown-up has traded a 70mpg runaround for something that does half that. The spreadsheet says ‘Ouch!’
However, there are two good things to come from this: motivation to ride my bike to work more, like the olden days, and the subsequent bonus of being able to eat more cake due to the extra exercise I’m doing. There’s nothing like looking forward to a slice of homemade cake to get you home.