It feels a bit early for me to start thinking of Christmas. Drifts of research and reports surround me; calendar reminders twinkle on my screen, and it wasn’t too long ago when a hard thump of an icing sugar duster covered my garden with snow. Maybe it’s not too early for me to start thinking of Christmas.
Two things easily get me into the Christmas spirit—music and food. While I am prone to belting out “Do They Know It’s Christmas” in June, I’m not quite ready to put my Christmas CDs in the mix just yet. The Christmas Pud has been stirred, steamed and safely out of my mother’s reach (really, it’s not hard as she’s 4’10” (maybe)). While I’m beginning to plan out my baking, it’s hardly a Bing Crosby existence, rumpapumpumming to David Bowie.
I used this week's visit with some favourite people to get me further into the festive spirit. How better than with a cake? Preferably something aromatic that hints at the weeks to come.
I thought the Chocolate Gingerbread Cake from Nigella Lawson’s Feast would be perfect with our tea, as we chat next to a roaring fire. I paired the smoky-rich chocolate spice cake with the salted brown butter caramel icing from Shuna Fish Lydon’s Caramel Cake. For a bit of texture, amidst all that soft lusciousness, a generous handful of roasted spiced pecans was scattered on top.
By my standards, it’s a sweet enterprise, but all that means is I'll have a smaller slice. But it is a dark, damp and rich cake, spiced with flavours familiar to the Yuletide season, with the added bonus of chocolate. And salted caramel. And crunchy pecans.
A couple of notes about the cake:
- The full cake recipe is enough for two 20cm x 20cm (8"x8") pans, so if you only need a small cake, halve the recipe.
- Instead of treacle, I used cooking molasses, which is a mixture of regular and blackstrap molasses. My molasses-loving friends liked it, but next time I’ll use a lighter variety.
- For one 20cm x 20cm cake, use about one-third of the icing specified in the recipe (or more, or less, I'm not going to judge).
Ginger spiced roasted pecans
50g/125ml/0.5c chopped pecans
one heaping teaspoon icing sugar
0.5 tsp ginger powder
cayenne pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a baking tray with parchment or tin foil.
Mix the nuts with the sugar, spices and salt. Drizzle in enough water so the nuts are coated with a glaze. Toss the nuts and spread on the prepared baking tray.
Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool before sprinkling on the cake.
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