In my previous post, I mentioned discussions between E and myself about what Scottish food to cook for Tartan Day. I decided on a soup quickly. Choosing a dessert was harder. When I asked E what his mum used to make all he could suggest was sponge pudding with custard. Unfortunately I had made steamed pudding only the previous weekend and don’t intend to make it again for a while.
We threw around more ideas. Clootie dumpling (more steamed pudding). Cranachan (‘they only make that at posh hotels’, E told me). Deep fried Mars Bar (banned on grounds of health and safety). Scones (tempting). I asked my mum over the phone and she started to skim through her Claire MacDonald Scottish Cookery book. Atholl Brose (maybe one day). Edinburgh fog (too creamy). Trifle (E would only ask for a serving without fruit). Gingerbread with oatmeal. Finally I was inspired. I scribbled down her instructions.
E is always hankering after a good gingerbread. My last attempt did not live up to his expectations. I loved the idea of oats in this recipe, which seemed quite Scottish. Apparently this one is called Broonie and is a traditional cake in the Orkneys. Claire knows these things as she is the grand dame of Scottish cookery.
At the end of dictating the recipe, mum told me it should be wrapped and kept for 3 days before eating. I gulped as it was the day before Tartan Day. The best I could do was bake it that evening and leave it overnight. When it came out of the oven it was after midnight so I was able to resist tasting it. But we decided that it tasted as good after one day wrapped as on the third day. (Though I confess I don’t understand wrapping and storing cakes for days, so I couldn’t tell you if it made a difference if we cut open the cake before the three days are up.)
It was a very simple and delicious cake. Usually I want a rich chocolate cake and E wants a buttercake. We both loved this soft gentle gingery cake. It is neither fiercely spicy nor darkly mysterious but it has a particular old fashioned charm. The oats add to the moisture and texture. It is very good with butter. As we sat eating it, E asked if it was easy to make. Fear not, no cake would excite him enough to start him baking. But he was hoping I might make it again.
Orkney Ginger Broonie
(from Claire MacDonald)
1½ cups plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup oatmeal
⅔ cup soft dark brown sugar (or raw sugar)
85g (⅓ cup) butter
2 tbsp black treacle
1¼ cups buttermilk or yoghurt
1 egg, beaten
½ cup raisins (optional – I didn’t use)
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Grease and line 10 x 20cm (4 x 8 inch) loaf tin.
- Place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Melt the butter and treacle. Whisk in buttermilk and egg.
- Pour wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients and mix til combined.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf tin.
- Bake 50-60 minutes or until a skewer in the centre comes out cleanly.
- Leave in tin 15 minutes before turning out to cool.
- Wrap and keep in a tin for 3 days (That’s Claire MacDonald’s advice – we thought it was great after 1 day.)
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