Gingerbread cake with blood orange caramel

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“Oh my dear. When has cake ever been for hunger? It’s for flavor, and, in this case, comfort.”

Meena van Praag

This cake is very dark and rich, spicy and sweet, and with a slight undercurrent of bitterness from the use of treacle and rapadura sugar, a dark brown, unrefined sugar from Sri Lanka. The blood orange caramel which is served on the side also has bitter-sweet notes, making it a thoroughly adult version of a gingerbread cake. It’s perfect for a fireside supper, and for the weather in my part of the world at the moment, which is decidedly chilly.  It’s also fabulous if left for a couple of days, cut into thick slices and grilled under a hot grill, before serving with mascarpone, sliced bananas and some chopped pecan nuts. I’d also suggest the musical accompaniment of Nina Simone singing “Feeling Good” when eating this cake. Enjoy!

Serves 8 – 10

125 g soft butter
125 g rapadura sugar (if unavailable, use dark brown sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
250 g plain flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
240 g treacle
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and cut into tiny pieces
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180 C. Lightly grease a 22 cm bundt tin or square cake pan. In a medium sized bowl beat together the butter, rapadura sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold through the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, treacle and fresh ginger until well combined. Finally, add the bicarbonate of soda to the milk and fold through the mixture. Turn into prepared pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Serve warm with blood orange caramel and thick cream.

Blood orange caramel

220 g caster sugar
100 ml water
2 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
3 blood oranges, peeled to remove skin and all pith, and sliced thickly

To make the blood orange caramel place the sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan, bring to the boil and boil for 8 – 10 minutes until it becomes a golden caramel. Add the juices, vanilla bean and seeds and orange blossom water, if using. Do this carefully as the caramel will spit. Stir until well combined. Place the sliced oranges in a flat dish and when the caramel has cooled slightly, pour over the oranges and cool to room temperature. Remove the vanilla bean before serving with the cake.

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