It’s been a funny old week so far. The Husband left me in Wales (where we had been for a wedding on Saturday) early on Sunday morning to head to Heathrow and a week in the States, while I headed home via my father in law’s to collect the kids. The drizzle didn’t help anyone’s mood and I was relieved that they both slept in the car for at least some of the journey home. I won’t bore you with tales of tedious homework, a moshi- monsters birthday party, and an "entirely bought from the co-op because I couldn’t, frankly, be bothered," tea time, but let’s just say I was glad to get to my bed on Sunday evening.
On Monday, the kids were out for tea and I thought I’d try a carb-free meal, inspired by a conversation I’d had earlier in the day with a friend. Grilled tomatoes and a poached egg. It was very delicious, but sadly didn’t stop me reaching for the oatcakes and cheddar later on that evening. The rest of the week’s meals has involved easy crowd pleasers. Toad in the Hole on Tuesday, Chicken & Red Pepper Fajitas on Wednesday, roasted tomato soup, garlic bread and pudding this evening, tea at a friend’s tomorrow... you get the idea.
However, today, a rare treat – lunch with some friends. Not ‘out’ – that would probably be too much excitement, but the prospect of some grown up company has been keeping me going this week.
I didn’t want to make anything too over the top, but it still took me some time to decide. While I’d like to have spent hours tinkering in the kitchen, it wasn’t really going to be an option, so in the end. I went with celeriac & pancetta soup (we have a lot of celeriac in the garden at the moment) and a big bulghar wheat salad, along with some good bread and cheese.
For pudding, though, something sweet, I had no such dilemmas. Ever since I read Sarah’s post at The View from The Table about her friend’s Seldom Seen Chai Cake, I knew I had to make it, and what better occasion. A grown up cake for a grown up (ish) lunch time .
This is a delicious warm ginger cake, infused through with the more subtle flavours of the chai - more ginger, cloves and cardomon – and lifted with a tangy lemon and ginger icing. I have not always been fond of these kind of darker, more intense cakes, but my tastes are clearly changing. Last week, I made this coffee and raisin cake and, boy was it good – it did, as billed, taste a little like a gingerbread latte. So from coffee to tea – or rather chai. I’m fond of a good tea loaf, but this is in a different league. To be honest, I haven't had much experience of chai, but on the basis of this cake alone, I am persuaded to investigate further. There is a little bit of faffage, making the chai first and allowing it to cool, and grinding the cardamom seeds up, but it is worth it? Oh yes.
For the chai
350ml semi-skimmed milk
8 cardamon pods (bashed in a pestle & mortar)
A cinnamon stick
2-3 slices root ginger
2 tea bags (regular tea)
For the cake
2 eggs (beaten)
230g golden syrup
20g dark Muscovado sugar
20 cardamon pods (bashed, pods removed and discarded)
280g SR flour
2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt
For the ginger icing
150g icing sugar
Finely grated zest of a lemon and juice of half a lemon
1-2 tbsp ginger syrup (I used the syrup in the jar the stem ginger comes in)
1 ball of stem ginger (very finely chopped)
Make the chai: pour the milk into a pan and add the rest of the chai ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Preheat oven to 170C/160C (Fan) / Gas 3.5, and grease and line a 20cm cake tin
Strain the cooled chai into a measuring jug. You need 200ml so add more milk if necessary.
Melt the butter, golden syrup and muscovado sugar together, and leave to cool a little while you deseed the cardamon pods. Discard the pods and grind the seeds into a powder. Sift the flour, ground ginger and pinch of salt into a bowl and stir in the powdered cardamon seeds. Stir in the cooled butter/syrup/sugar mixture and the beaten eggs to the spiced flour followed by the cooled chai and mix well. Pour the mixture into the tin, and bake for 50-60 mins or until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it. Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the icing, cream the butter, lemon zest and icing sugar together and then slowly add the lemon juice and ginger syrup. When they're all combined to make a smooth icing stir in the stem ginger. Cover the cake with the icing, and serve.
|cover the cake with the icing...|