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Retro Recipe Challenge #10 Storybook Food. Lazy Jack's Unfortunate Cake..... A Light, Moist, Apple Scented, Christmas Cake..

Posted Jan 11 2009 5:24pm



My mother didn't keep that much from our childhood - not being a sentimental sort. No coiled first lock of hair or tiny shoes to coo over, not even many photographs. What she did keep and pass on to us were books. Fantastic books! Illustrated by the great and good of the 1970's children's book world. So for this challenge, I re-read these precious books from my childhood and finally settled on Lazy Jack by Tony Ross.

Now this is a great book, so I'm going to tell you a little bit about it and help you understand the significance of Jack's cake in my life.

Enter Lazy Jack the layabout. A happy-go-lucky, not too bright, chubby slouch who expected his mum to wait on him hand and foot. Well, eventually she grew tired of looking after her son entirely and sent him out to work for a farmer. But being somewhat challenged in the common sense department, he managed to lose the pound he was paid on the way home. 'You should have put it in your pocket you twit!' cried his mum, exasperated.

So next day he goes to work with some cows and the farmer gives him a pint of milk for payment, which he promptly pours into his pocket - with obvious consequences. And so on through a selection of jobs each with a different reward which Jack manages to stuff up by inappropriately following the advice his mum gave him for the last item, from carrying a cheese on his head, to carrying a donkey on his back and finally the cake you see above, being dragged home on a string (meant for bringing a cat home on).

Well you know how I love cake! Cake was something quite rare in my childhood (I don't want to come off sounding deprived here - at least I have all my teeth as a result) so the thought of someone dragging one behind them on a string was really painful to me. Like fingernails on a blackboard painful. I knew I had to bake Jack's cake in order to repair the horror I experienced as a small child imagining that lovely cake being wasted by Lazy Jack; and so as a kind of Gestalt gesture, I offer you my cake and hope to soothe my inner child in the process.




Before you read on I would like to insert a disclaimer here. Anyone who doesn't like treacle or molasses, stop reading now. Look away. You will only be distressed by what follows. For as Nick will tell you, this cake is seriously dark. Or in his own words, on eating a piece last night; 'ack....euckk....blek!.....eeuwww!'. Nope, that boy don't like treacle and that's a fact. For those of you with more than a few hairs on your chest, read on, my treacle loving darlings......




Jack's cake is a pure piece of fiction. Look at it, go on. It's a fruit cake, full of cherries and angelica, with a flat iced top and filled with cream and jam! It may look good in the picture, but when you deconstruct the cake it comes off a bit of a dogs dinner. So I looked instead towards ginger cake and thought I would add the cherries and angelica afterwards as none of us would eat them (these are GROSS! said Fin when he tried a cherry).

So I went to my retro books and found this gem of retro desert horror on which to base Jack's cake. It's called 'Jolly Ginger' and hails from Marguerite Patten's, sensibly titled, 'Book of Puddings and Deserts', published in 1963. Long after the war had finished, Margerite still felt it was prudent to use as many substitutions as possible, so the book is replete with margarine, egg substitutes and mock cream (ack...blek....etc). Check out the jaunty way she has with angelica and cherries - hey, gingerbread never looked so jolly!




I'm not going to give you the original recipe here as it is full of wheat and as you know, here in this little corner of the blogosphere it's my way - or the wheat, barley and rye way.... (groan). I'm just going to give you my version of the ginger cake recipe which was really very good, rich, dense but with a good crumb and so dark it could be mistaken for chocolate. It would be further improved by adding half a jar of chopped preserved ginger and wrapping for a few days to get really sticky. If you have to, ice it with cream cheese or lemon vanilla butter-cream (as I did in the picture). But on reflection, I think it is best left alone to do it's thing and enjoyed meditatively when one fancies a little something in the afternoon. You can vary the flour mix according to what you have to hand.


Jolly Ginger

5oz butter
6oz molasses or treacle (or half golden syrup for wussies)
4oz brown sugar (dark as you dare)
2 tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs
grated rind of a lemon
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

7oz gluten free flour made up as follows : 
1oz each, brown rice flour, chestnut flour, sorghum flour
2oz each: teff flour and tapioca starch

Turn the oven to 160C and line a deep sided 8 inch cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Put a saucepan on the weighing scales and measure in the treacle or molasses. Add to the pan the butter, sugar and water and set over a very low heat to melt the butter.

Sift all the remaining dry ingredients except bicarb into a bowl and beat into the molasses mixture once it is melted.

Beat together the eggs, lemon rind and bicarb and bet into the mix until smooth. Pour straight away into the lined tin and bake for about an hour, turning the oven down to 140C for the last 15 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin and wrap in greaseproof and foil for a couple of days to mature (or eat straight away - who keeps cake that long anyway?)

Posted by Naomi Devlinat 8:53 PM7 commentsLinks to this post

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Light, Moist, Apple Scented, Christmas Cake..

Last year I wrote a few recipes for the You magazine supplement of the Daily Mail. I'm a Guardian reader myself, but I like to share recipes with whoever needs them and the response from readers was amazing. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I was inundated with calls and emails from folks asking about the recipe and then letting me know how pleased they were with the way it turned out. 

If you visit the link above, please ignore the image that accompanies it! It plainly has nothing to do with the recipe as it shows a dark vine fruit rich, iced cake!

This recipe is also suitable for Diabetic Coeliacs, that rare and special breed. As most of these people already realise, most of the gluten free substitutes available are packed with sugars and quick releasing grains that are totally unsuitable for Diabetics. To be honest, the rest of us could do with as little of these products as possible too to avoid developing insulin resistance in the future.

So I thought I would put it up here for those of you who would like to try it too. A couple of points first though: It is best to keep it only a few days to a week to mature - it doesn't have all the sugar, dried vine fruits and booze that would preserve most Christmas cakes long enough to leave as heirlooms. This is the type of cake that you whip up quickly (after soaking the fruit overnight), cooks in only a couple of hours and fills the house with a delicious smell of apples and spice. Don't cover it in marzipan and ice it, unless you're confident that your blood sugar levels are nice and stable - definitely not if you are Diabetic!

If you have trouble finding rice bran in your health food shop you can order it from Goodness Direct. If you are not diabetic you could substitute another gluten free flour. I would try one of the following; chestnut flour, brown rice flour, amaranth flour, buckwheat flour (hard to digest so beware) or Teff flour.

If you think it might take you longer than a few days to eat, slice it up and freeze on a parchment covered tray - lifting once during freezing to prevent it sticking. Then just take a piece out as you need and let it defrost for a couple of hours - or warm and serve with cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon (reputed to help lower blood sugar levels)....mmmmm!

Gluten Free Christmas Cake – suitable for diabetics

GL stands for glycaemic load. Those with diabetes or trying to lose weight should try to limit their GL per meal to 15 GLs maximum. This will help stabilise blood sugar levels.

Cut into 8 slices = 11 GLs per slice or 10 slices 8.8 GLs per slice

170gms (6oz) pitted prunes
115gms (4oz) dried apple rings
115gms (4oz) dried apricots
1 small apple grated
85gms (3oz) fruit sugar
170gms (6oz) soft butter
3 large eggs (4 medium)
85gms (3oz) ground almonds
85gms (3oz) rice bran
50ml (double measure) brandy
1-2 oranges
Desertspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp baking powder (or ½ tsp bicarb and 1 tsp cream of tartar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 cloves ground to a powder with a pinch of fruit sugar

The day before you intend to make the cake, chop the dried fruit roughly in a food processor – or by hand. Put into a bowl and pour over the brandy – it will not cover the fruit. Leave to soak overnight, giving it a little stir when you are passing.

Line a deep 20cm (8 inch) diameter cake tin with a double layer of brown paper, bottom and sides. Finish this with a layer of greaseproof paper. Alternatively, double line the inside of the tin with greaseproof paper and tie a few sheets of carefully folded newspaper around the outside with ovenproof string. Do not let any of the paper touch the sides of the oven though! Set the oven to 150oC (gas mark 2) or 160oC if your oven is not fan assisted.

Cream the butter and fruit sugar and stir in the chopped fruit, zest from 1 orange, grated apple, vanilla and spices. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs together until they are well mixed and stir them into the mixture a bit at a time. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled – it will be fine!

Stir in the ground almonds, rice bran, and baking powder until a smoothish mixture is formed. Finally, squeeze the juice from half the orange and stir into the mixture to make a soft dropping consistency (add more if it seems stiff at all – you may need up to 2 oranges). Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface lightly.

Bake for 1 ½ - 2 hours until a skewer comes out clean. As soon as the tin is cool enough to touch, put a piece of foil tightly over the top and leave till completely cold (this softens the top of the cake). Un-mould and wrap in greaseproof paper and a double layer of foil. Eat immediately or keep it for up to a week in an airtight tin, in a cool place, before eating - but not longer or it will start to go off. Do not ice this cake, but instead enjoy it with some thick double cream or Greek yoghurt for an indulgent guilt free treat.

Posted by Naomi Devlinat 10:17 AM0 commentsLinks to this post

Last year I wrote a few recipes for the You magazine supplement of the Daily Mail. I'm a Guardian reader myself, but I like to share recipes with whoever needs them and the response from readers was amazing. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I was inundated with calls and emails from folks asking about the recipe and then letting me know how pleased they were with the way it turned out. 

If you visit the link above, please ignore the image that accompanies it! It plainly has nothing to do with the recipe as it shows a dark vine fruit rich, iced cake!

This recipe is also suitable for Diabetic Coeliacs, that rare and special breed. As most of these people already realise, most of the gluten free substitutes available are packed with sugars and quick releasing grains that are totally unsuitable for Diabetics. To be honest, the rest of us could do with as little of these products as possible too to avoid developing insulin resistance in the future.

So I thought I would put it up here for those of you who would like to try it too. A couple of points first though: It is best to keep it only a few days to a week to mature - it doesn't have all the sugar, dried vine fruits and booze that would preserve most Christmas cakes long enough to leave as heirlooms. This is the type of cake that you whip up quickly (after soaking the fruit overnight), cooks in only a couple of hours and fills the house with a delicious smell of apples and spice. Don't cover it in marzipan and ice it, unless you're confident that your blood sugar levels are nice and stable - definitely not if you are Diabetic!

If you have trouble finding rice bran in your health food shop you can order it from Goodness Direct. If you are not diabetic you could substitute another gluten free flour. I would try one of the following; chestnut flour, brown rice flour, amaranth flour, buckwheat flour (hard to digest so beware) or Teff flour.

If you think it might take you longer than a few days to eat, slice it up and freeze on a parchment covered tray - lifting once during freezing to prevent it sticking. Then just take a piece out as you need and let it defrost for a couple of hours - or warm and serve with cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon (reputed to help lower blood sugar levels)....mmmmm!

Gluten Free Christmas Cake – suitable for diabetics

GL stands for glycaemic load. Those with diabetes or trying to lose weight should try to limit their GL per meal to 15 GLs maximum. This will help stabilise blood sugar levels.

Cut into 8 slices = 11 GLs per slice or 10 slices 8.8 GLs per slice

170gms (6oz) pitted prunes
115gms (4oz) dried apple rings
115gms (4oz) dried apricots
1 small apple grated
85gms (3oz) fruit sugar
170gms (6oz) soft butter
3 large eggs (4 medium)
85gms (3oz) ground almonds
85gms (3oz) rice bran
50ml (double measure) brandy
1-2 oranges
Desertspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp baking powder (or ½ tsp bicarb and 1 tsp cream of tartar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 cloves ground to a powder with a pinch of fruit sugar

The day before you intend to make the cake, chop the dried fruit roughly in a food processor – or by hand. Put into a bowl and pour over the brandy – it will not cover the fruit. Leave to soak overnight, giving it a little stir when you are passing.

Line a deep 20cm (8 inch) diameter cake tin with a double layer of brown paper, bottom and sides. Finish this with a layer of greaseproof paper. Alternatively, double line the inside of the tin with greaseproof paper and tie a few sheets of carefully folded newspaper around the outside with ovenproof string. Do not let any of the paper touch the sides of the oven though! Set the oven to 150oC (gas mark 2) or 160oC if your oven is not fan assisted.

Cream the butter and fruit sugar and stir in the chopped fruit, zest from 1 orange, grated apple, vanilla and spices. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs together until they are well mixed and stir them into the mixture a bit at a time. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled – it will be fine!

Stir in the ground almonds, rice bran, and baking powder until a smoothish mixture is formed. Finally, squeeze the juice from half the orange and stir into the mixture to make a soft dropping consistency (add more if it seems stiff at all – you may need up to 2 oranges). Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface lightly.

Bake for 1 ½ - 2 hours until a skewer comes out clean. As soon as the tin is cool enough to touch, put a piece of foil tightly over the top and leave till completely cold (this softens the top of the cake). Un-mould and wrap in greaseproof paper and a double layer of foil. Eat immediately or keep it for up to a week in an airtight tin, in a cool place, before eating - but not longer or it will start to go off. Do not ice this cake, but instead enjoy it with some thick double cream or Greek yoghurt for an indulgent guilt free treat.
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