waking up to golden shards of sunshine seeping through your blinds is a little life pleasure I wholly enjoy, whether the sky is bright and the air crisp or the heat of summer has enveloped the city. I was lucky enough to take over the top room in my parent’s house when I lived with them and claim it as my own, with a view of London that, as I pulled up my blinds each morning, never ceased to amaze me; the tip of the sunrise peaking over the horizon and wrapping its beams around the tree branches below.
Occasionally, when the clocks went forward, I would set my alarm early and hop out of bed to jog round Alexandra Palace and Highgate Wood before making it back home in time to ready myself for the day. But of course, the transition from winter to spring, and spring to summer is undeniably slow in the UK and the mornings still embrace you with fresh air and a cold snap until June/July come round. There were days when porridge wouldn’t quite cut it and I’d decided that cake for breakfast was entirely acceptable.
At Christmas, my Aunt made a gingerbread that was too good not to steal the recipe for. In fact, I stole a few (including a recipe for a brownie cheesecake which was to die for and I hope will make an appearance sometime soon on the blog). Not only do I now have a reputation for bringing home-baked goods into the office, the gym crowd like to drop not-so-subtle hints that cake is what they really want when I turn up for a workout. There was even a jovial backlash when this week I told them I would not be able to make it to our 10am Saturday session. No Charlotte? No cake!? The disappointment was undoubtedly evident.
Luckily for them, I’d already been planning to bake even if it meant having to go to five grocery stores to get my hands on stem ginger. I made this cake last week, but before I’d even had a chance to photograph it, it had been gobbled up by my family who quite clearly enjoyed the lot! So, Saturday started yet again like most do by way of breakfast brainstorming and I whipped up another loaf to keep the majority of the people in my life happy.
Gingerly (pun entirely intended), I sliced myself a piece of the gingerbread and slid it under the grill, waiting for a sugar char round the edges and a crunchy top, eagerly readied for the spread of butter. With a cup of earl grey tea brewing on the counter, there I was with a little smirk on my face revelling in the satisfaction that I could enjoy my breakfast of toasted gingerbread without anyone getting their hands on it first!
Makes one loaf
225g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
3 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
140g Chinese stem ginger
85g black treacle
85g golden syrup
115g demerara sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4 and lightly butter and line a 1kg loaf tin.
2. Sift the flour, spice, bicarb and salt into a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
3. Finely chop the ginger and add to the spiced flour.
4. Beat together the milk and egg.
5. Put the butter, treacle, syrup and sugar in a small pan and heat gently, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted. Pour the contents into the flour, followed by the milk and egg then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixed well.
N.B. The mixture will appear runny, but this is fine!
6. Pour the contents into the loaf tin and place in the centre of the oven. Be sure to keep an eye on in over 30mins to ensure the top doesn’t burn; you can place some foil on the top to prevent this.
7. It should be well risen and springy to the touch. Do not remove from the oven too early otherwise it will sink.
8. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin and then when cool wrap in foil. The flavours should increase if left for a few days.