For one thing there was the climate. Heat and humidity are almost every day where I grew up in a small Zululand village. In addition, we had a huge Aga stove, a cream coloured beast, which ran the length of one wall, and had four ovens, with temperature indicators, plus a warming oven. It burned anthracite (a long lasting hard coal) and was ready for action all day, but at night the dampers were closed down, so it just sullenly waited for reinforcing air to come in the morning. It was a trick to use those ovens for baking, because you had to know exactly how to keep the temperature stable for the required time, but I loved it. Baking was most often a sweaty affair.
I didn't know anything about a mixer, hand held or not, in those days! A wooden spoon was used for beating most batters, or a whisk. Sometimes it would seem to take forever. I loved to use a cookbook, even though many times we often didn't have the mentioned ingredients for cakes.
One day I came across this recipe for a gingerbread loaf, and was pleasantly surprised to realise I didn't need to do any of the beating and fussing around that most baking recipes required. Best of all, even if someone dared to jump around in the kitchen, or clang a pot on the huge and much used stove top, this cake wouldn't collapse into a soggy, solid heap, because it had baking powder in addition to the baking soda.
Now, in North America, you sometimes have to search for Lyles Golden Syrup, and it is really the best for this delicious cake, but others do work quite well.
The mixing is incredibly short and uncomplicated. The baking time is longer, but it gives you time to clean up, and do other things while you're waiting. This loaf gets better after a day, although it's delicious when it first cools too. It freezes very well.
Hope you'll try it, if you're a ginger aficionado like me!
Let's get started...
4 cups All-purpose flour
2 cups Sugar
4 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp Ground cloves
I 1/4 tsp Ground nutmeg
2 tsp Ground ginger
1/2 tsp Ground allspice
1 tsp Baking soda
2 Large eggs
2 cups Milk, Room temperature
I cup Golden syrup
2 1/2 Tbs Canola or safflower oil
What you do...
Now, mix the liquids into the dry ingredients, just until they are evenly mixed. Pour the mixture into the pans, and bake at 325°F for about 60-70 minutes for the larger loaf pans. Let cool 5 minutes then turn them out onto a cooling rack.