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Thursday, 15 December 2011

7 Days Months of Baking: Day 7 - Wright's Ginger Cake

OK, so this wasn't 7 Days of Baking in the sense of spending a week baking one cake a day, but I kind of predicted that. And, hey, let's face it, I set myself this challenge on a Friday 13th, so it was never going to go smoothly. Now, finally, so very nearly seven months to the day after this bake-a-thon began, we have the final entry - my embellished Wright's Ginger Cake.

Considering how well all of these have gone so far, one could be forgiven for thinking that, when it comes to baking Wright's mixes, I can do no wrong but, please, delay your flattery... This one didn't go so well.

In fact, I'd have to admit that, despite managing to recover from an error early in the baking stage (I think I set the temperature too low), I had made another, even more crucial error in my choice of embellishment.

Ingredients:

  • Wright's Ginger Cake Mix
  • Water
  • Cooking Oil
  • Chocolate Coated Crytallised Ginger (I used a bag from Julian Graves, Dark chocolate)
Preparation Time: About an hour

Tools Required:
  • Medium/Large Bowl (for the mixing)
  • Whisk (or electric mixer, if you're lazier than I am, also for the mixing)
  • Baking Tin (2lb loaf size - paper liners optional)
  • Measuring Implements (jug for the water, tablespoons or similar for oil)
  • Cooling Rack
The Process:
I'm actually going to include the full instructions here, since I did such a fine job of reading them wrong this time. Consider it a mark of my shame.

Preheat the oven to 140-160degrees C (160-180 if not using a fan-assisted oven). Measure out 200ml of water and 60ml of cooking oil into the bowl, then add the Wright's cake mix, stirring as you go. The instructions do reckon only a couple of minutes mixing with a hand whisk, but I tend to whisk for at least 5 minutes, just to be sure of as many lumps and clumps are smoothed out.

To make the baking tin ready, either add a paper liner or grease the inside thoroughly with butter. I'm using paper liners all the time now, as they do save a great deal of effort in washing up afterward - but the cakes come out easily enough, and with very little cake left in the tin just with buttering.

Pour the batter into the tin - it's thin enough that it settles evenly - and place into the oven for 50 minutes (generally good enough but, as mentioned, I think I went for the low end of 140-160C this time, when previously I've gone for closer to 160C). I have a timer that gives me 10- and 5-minute countdown warnings, so I set it for an hour and checked at the sound of each alarm.

When it looks ready, remove the tin from the oven and allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes to cool, then tip out the loaf onto a cooling rack for a few minutes.

The Results:
I really thought this would work, and that it would be great... I mean, what could be better than a ginger cake with large pieces of actual ginger mixed in? Only a ginger cake with large pieces of chocolate coated actual ginger, surely?

In fact, it turned out terrible. First things first, I set the temperature too low so, when I pulled it out of the oven at the 50 minute mark, as I have learned to do with these cakes in my oven, it wasn't fully cooked... but I only realised this when I tried to tip it out of the tin, and the still-liquid innards started to ooze out of the split in the top. So, the oven got switched back on, and the cake went back in for another ten minutes.

Thankfully, this did not result in a thick, tough crust... But what I hadn't considered was the effect of baking on the crystallised ginger...

Truly, I am embarrassed to confess, that which tastes so good on its own, was the utter ruin of this cake. The ginger pieces seemed tougher, stringier and far more bitter than they are in their normal state. Yes, sure, crystallised ginger is invariably coated in sugar because it's not exactly sweet, but the act of baking it inside a cake seemed to emphasise the its bitterness. The chocolate coating wasn't too helpful either - it did nothing to dull the flavour in the way it would normally. Worse still, the combination of dark chocolate and unusually acrid ginger actually overloaded the flavour of the cake, leaving it tasting rather bland... Which it really isn't in its unadulterated state. Maybe milk chocolate would have worked better, but I doubt it.

Perhaps there are other things I could have added into this cake, or perhaps Wright's Ginger Cake deserves to be baked as it comes, without any embellishments.

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