A cake to bake (and a bone to pick with Nigella)

I've had gingerbread on the mind lately: the soft cake-y kind as opposed to the crisp edible man kind (although I'm a fan of both). After arriving home from work well past the hour one should arrive home on a Friday evening, and before running downstairs to rescue our dinner from the pizza delivery man, I squeezed in a short gingerbread baking session. Just me, my KitchenAid and Nigella (Lawson, of course) in the kitchen for a solid half-hour (excluding baking time) of amusement.

The cake turned out beautifully, with a light fluffy texture and rich ginger flavour. And, despite my initial hesitation at icing gingerbread, I must admit that the sharp acidity of the lemon is a nice complement.

Now for the bone to pick. Page 236 of How To Be A Domestic Goddess clearly shows an extremely dark cake frosted with a generous layer of white icing. After looking at my version up, down, sideways and everyway, I have come to the rather sad conclusion that her photo is rigged, my friends. I followed the recipe to a ‘T’ and my cake does not even come close to her rich shade of brown. Maybe we can chalk that inconsistency up to lighting, but there is no escaping the icing issue. Namely that, despite having made a double batch of the icing, there was still barely enough to cover the cake.

Doesn't she realize the feelings of inadequacy that doctored photos can create among aspiring (casual, even) bakers who can never hope to achieve the photographic result from the recipe provided?

On second thought, having tasted the cake, never mind Nigella.

Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon corn syrup
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line a 9"x13" baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter along with the sugar, syrup, molasses, ginger and cinnamon. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk, followed by the baking soda dissolved in water.

Pour the heated mixture from the saucepan into a third bowl. Add part of the egg and milk mixture, followed by some of the flour, and mix. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Mix well. The batter will be very liquid.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake has risen and is relatively firm to the touch. Cool completely before icing.

Icing: (optional)

1 cup plus 4 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Measure out the icing sugar into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Add water if necessary to reach the desired consistency, but you want to keep it relatively thick. Note that the above measurements are for a double batch of the icing.

Spread the icing over the cooled cake and leave it to set before cutting.

Note: This gingerbread would also be tasty without the icing and instead topped with spiced apple sauce and whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Source: Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess.