In Britain, treacle is the generic name used to describe most sugar syrups, from golden syrup to the dark and sticky black treacle, known as molasses here. The strong, sweet syrup adds a dense texture to this gingerbread, which was said to have arrived in Europe during the Middle Ages, when the Crusaders brought back spices from the Middle East. A similar version, parkin, uses lard and oatmeal flour and is traditionally eaten on Guy Fawkes Night, November 5.
- 125 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing and to serve
- 125 g (½ cup firmly packed) brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 250 g (1⅔ cup) plain flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 240 g (⅔ cup) black treacle or molasses, plus extra, to serve
- 75 g (⅓ cup) crystallised ginger, chopped
- 100 g (⅔ cup) raisins
- 2 tbsp milk
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- icing sugar, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 20 minutes
Standing time overnight
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease and flour sides of a 22 cm square cake pan and line base with baking paper.
Combine butter and sugar in a bowl then, using electric beaters, beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Sift flour and spices into a bowl, then stir into butter mixture with treacle, crystallised ginger and raisins. Combine milk and bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl, then stir into mixture.
Spoon into cake pan and smooth top. Bake, covering surface with foil if it browns too quickly, for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap, then stand overnight before slicing. Dust with icing sugar and serve with butter and extra treacle.
Photography by Chris Chen. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Styling by Kirsten Jenkins.
As seen in Feast magazine, April 2015, Issue 41.