It wasn't long before all four were sitting down to a good tea. Aunt Fanny had baked new scones for them, and had made a ginger cake with black treacle. It was dark brown and sticky to eat. The children finished it all up and said it was the nicest they had ever tasted.
Five on a Treasure Island, Enid Blyton, Back to Kirrin Cottage
I'm not really sure why it's taken so long for Enid Blyton to make an appearance on this blog. Since starting this, people have spoken to me about the food in her stories more than those of any other writer. It seems that, for those of us who grew up reading her books, it's the lemonade, the boiled eggs, the sandwiches and the tinned sardines that have stayed in our heads. Personally, I can't think of many more idyllic days than one spent in Dorset, on your own island, with a picnic basket, a few books and an afternoon nap.
Enid Blyton started writing The Famous Five series during the Second World War, at a time when many of her young readers in Britain would have been experiencing rationing. I've therefore gone for a more austere recipe than I might otherwise have done - heavy on root veg that people would have been growing at home. This cake is a perfect one for a picnic too. You can wrap it up in the paper you've lined the tin with, and keep it for a few days before cutting into it; the flavour will just keep improving.
Sticky Ginger Cake
75g dark brown sugar
100g black treacle
150ml vegetable oil
100g grated parsnip
60g grated carrot
4 pieces stem ginger, chopped into small pieces
175g spelt flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ground ginger
1tbsp syrup from stem ginger
100g icing suagr
18cm loose-bottomed cake tin
Electric hand whisk
1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease the tin with a little vegetable oil and line with a sheet of baking paper, folded where needed so that it fits into the round tin. You'll be storing/transporting the cake in this paper later, so don't make any cuts into it.
2. Crack the eggs into the bowl and beat with the dark sugar for a few minutes until very thick. Beat in the treacle and oil until smooth. Stir in the veg and the stem ginger.
3. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger together. Fold them into the cake mix gently, then pour the batter into the lined tin and place in the oven.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with only a couple of crumbs of cake attached. Cool in the tin for around ten minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Don't panic if it sinks a little in the middle; it's a very moist cake!
5. You can eat the cake as is but, for an extra ginger hit, I prepared a very simple icing. Mix the ginger syrup with the icing sugar in a bowl and drizzle it over the top of the cooled cake. Allow it to set a little before wrapping it up, popping it in a picnic basket and heading off on another adventure (as Enid Blyton - and my stepdad - would say).