This is my favourite of all the soda loaf cakes within my albeit relatively small repertoire! It takes a little more time and attention than the orange or lemon versions, but it’s an incredibly light yet sticky sponge with a lovely warm and spicy afterglow. You have to be careful not to reduce the syrup too much (certainly not as much as the lemon drizzle cake) otherwise it becomes the consistency of chewy toffee which, while delicious, makes it tricky to slice your cake!
- 5¾ ounces / 165g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 11¼ ounces / 320g soft light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 7 ounces / 200g plain flour
- ½ tablespoon of ginger
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- 3 balls of stem ginger, finely chopped
- 3¼ fluid ounces / 90ml ginger ale
- 4½ ounces / 125g caster sugar
- 4½ ounces / 125ml ginger ale
- 1 ball of stem ginger, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan) / 338°F (302°F fan).
Line a 8×4 inch / 20x10cm loaf tin.
In a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes on a high speed until light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs together in a jug and then add slowly to your butter mixture on a medium speed.
Sift your flour, ginger and cinnamon into the mixture and continue to mix on medium until everything is combined.
Add the stem ginger and ginger ale and mix in by hand.
Pour the batter into your loaf tin and bake in the oven for 60 minutes. After this time, cover with foil and return to the oven for another 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out virtually clean. I say virtually because you want this to retain its moistness so you’ll need to judge whether or not what’s stuck to your tester is uncooked sponge or gooey crumbs! If you’re not concerned about perfection, I find it easier to test using a knife. I’ve made this several times and I’ve never had a perfectly clean tester, yet the sponge is always moist and light.
While your cake is in the oven for it’s final burst, make your syrup by putting your caster sugar, ginger ale and stem ginger into a small saucepan and heating over a medium light until the sugar has dissolved and then simmering for 5 minutes until it has reduced by about 1/3.
Remove your cake from the oven, lift from the loaf tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Make a series of holes in the surface by prodding it with your cake tester and pour the syrup all over the top.
An American apothecary and surgeon working in Belfast, Northern Ireland, called Thomas Cantrell claims to have invented ginger ale in the 1850s. There are other claimants, but he marketed the drink through Grattan & Company, of Belfast, who embossed their bottles with the slogan “The Original Makers of Ginger Beer” once others started producing it. What is beyond dispute is the ginger beer was the product that launched the whole of the American soft drinks industry.