Black Magic

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Black treacle is something I seem to use only between October and January. Some goes in the Christmas cake, occasionally I put a spoonful in a bean stew or use it in a barbecue-type marinade but most goes in gingerbread. I usually save gingerbread for Guy Fawkes Night*. Dark, sticky ginger cakes are traditionally eaten in the north of England on Guy Fawkes Night. Parkin is eaten in Yorkshire and in Derbyshire they make Thor cake. Both have oatmeal in them. The extract shown below is from Alison Uttley's Recipes From and Old Farmhouse. Written in 1966 it is a description of the recipes she remembered from her Derbyshire childhood at the end of the 19th century. It's well worth tracking down a copy not only for the recipes but for the beautiful illustrations by Pauline Baynes.




This year I decided to make gingerbread for Halloween. Well, the decision was made for me really. Lyle's have produced this glorious 'Trick or Treacle' limited edition of their famous sticky black stuff.


I love these special tins. I am building quite a collection.


So for October's cake of the month I give you gingerbread. Not my own recipe -hard to come up with a new recipe for a traditional cake. This is by St Mary Berry of the Cake. From her Ultimate Cake Book. The only changes I made were to use butter in place of margarine and to mix the ingredients in a slightly different way.

Gingerbread

Grease and base line a traybake or roasting tin about 12''x 9'' (30cm x 23cm). The sides need to be at least 1 inch deep.

Melt gently in a large saucepan
10 oz (275g) black treacle
10 oz (275g) golden syrup
8 oz (225g) light muscovado sugar
8 oz (225g) butter




In a large bowl sift
1 lb (450g) self-raising flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons mixed spice




In a small bowl beat
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons of milk




Pour the melted mixture slowly onto the sifted flour beating well with a wooden spoon. This will help ensure you don't end up with little clumps of dry flour in your gingerbread.

Once all is well mixed beat in the eggs, again making sure everything is blended smoothly.




Pour the mixture which will be quite runny into the prepared tin and bake at 160°c (140°c fan oven/gas 3) for 50 minutes.


The cake should be well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning onto a cooling rack. When cool cut into pieces (16, 21 or 24 depending how big you like your chunks of cake). If possible leave in an airtight tin for a couple of days as it will become stickier and more delicious.


Did you know that 100g of black treacle will provide you with your entire daily requirement of iron? So if the vampires are making you feel a bit anaemic this Halloween have a chunk of gingerbread and maybe a glass of Guinness to wash it down.



You might also be interested in this post.

*5th November

42 comments:

  1. I can't throw those tins away either, but there's only so many pencil tins a girl needs!
    Love the idea of cake as a cure for anaemia ... and we all know prevention is better than cure. Do you know about the Vit B in red wine? (Think it's B. Might be D. Whatever.)

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    1. Well it certainly does me good Mary.

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  2. Oh how my mouth is watering - must go and bake a gingerbread right now! Do be careful to dispose of any treacle older than the best by date as I once had a tin which blew!! What a mess. Love that tin - one of these days people will be buying them as Vintage!

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  3. I wish my black treacle (we call it blackstrap molasses here, as it happens) came in such a fab container. And my mouth is watering at the thought of gingerbread...

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  4. Which method do you use for measuring out amounts of "sticky" ingredients like black treacle?

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    1. The messy method! Well today I did -just poured it into the pan of my scales and then frantically twisted the tins as the needle neared the mark. I did flour the scales pan first but it didn't help much and I had to scrape it all into the saucepan. If I'd thought about it I would have brushed the pan with sunflower oil and then the stickiness would have slid off it. Another way is to stand the saucepan on an electric scale that you can zero and pour directly into the pan. I do have a scale like that but the battery is flat.
      Still, stickiness is all part of the fun!

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  5. Oh yum! I have the same book, and what reads like the self same recipe, scribbled on an envelope for me by a friend some while ago, but I do not have a Trick or Treacle tin and I am bereft.

    I use my old syrup and treacle tins to grow herbs in on a windowsill :)

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  6. OOH You have brought back some memories Sue, my maternal grandmother (Lancashire born and bred) used to make a particularly good Parkin, sadly her recipe died with her. She also used to make dumplings like cannon balls! I am not sure how she did it but when you bit into them it took a while for your teeth to meet, ah happy days.

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    1. Parkin is Lancastrian as well? Sorry about that Lancashire folk.

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  7. I LOVE gingerbread. Smells so fantastic whilst cooking, I almost felt I could smell photograph number 6. Have you ever made Nigella's gingerbread which includes fresh ginger grated into the mix - I know you like Nigel, just can't remember whether you like Nigella.

    Joe loves black treacle on his scones, which makes it an all year round thing in this house - I feel obliged to make scones for any non-Bristol friends who arrive at about tea time, a sort of west country welcome... though I think we all know it's just an excuse to buy clotted cream.

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    1. Is that called Thunder and Lightening round your way?

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    2. I like Nigella in print but not on tv. I expect I have that recipe, although to be honest I prefer not to fiddle about with this sort of recipe -if it aint broke don't fix it.

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    3. Lucille - yes, or at least it is by Joe. I don't really like it - prefer to stick to jam with my scones!

      and Sue - you're right, on both counts (she always sounds as though she needs to blow her nose), but it is rather delicious, so worth a try if you are ever in a meddling frame of mind and you have a bit fresh ginger to hand (that all sounds rather sinister!).

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  8. I'm in a baking mood too. I've just made some lemon curd cupcakes but I think your gingerbread looks more seasonally appropriate.

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  9. Your ginger cake looks delicious. I have a growing collection of treacle tins too. And it's high time I made a parkin. Thanks for the reminder!

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  10. Dear Sue
    This looks absolutely delicious and I am feeling very hungry now. Your St Mary Berry of the Cake made me laugh but it is very true. I like your collection of tins too. I have a recipe given to me by a Yorkshire lass, born and bred, for Yorkshire Parkin sponge which is a lovely cake flavoured with gingery spices. In fact, I am feeling that I may need to bake it again...today.
    Best wishes and enjoy your gingerbread
    Ellie

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  11. I think a line of such tins would look marvellous along my dresser. And yet another idea I pilfer from your blog. I love the whole sticky cake thing yet get very annoyed with the smell of ginger and treacle clinging to my hair for weeks. Or is that just me?

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  12. Mrsbrispie4:26 pm GMT

    Looks gorgeous and looks infinitely better than the one I made last week. In my wisdom though the recipe would be ok to put in a loaf tin rather than a traybake tin. It spilt over the top and burnt all over the oven and what was left in the tin was sunken and burnt! Yuk!

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    1. Been there, done that ;)

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  13. Oh how delicious!
    I resolutely walked past the tins of Black Treacle on offer in Sainsburys this morning. Now I am tempted to go back tomorrow and buy some. For the good of my health, you understand - feeling pale and anaemic!!

    blessings x

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  14. Thank you Sue, I have just bought a copy of that book as I know my Mum will love it for her birthday; it's perfect. Mind you I think I would like it myself.

    I love gingerbread and it has become a late tradition to make it for Christmas Eve as my daughter likes it but doesn't like mince pies so we both get stuck in to something we both emjoy. It really is nicer after a couple of days or so resting in a tin. The problem is waiting that long! I have had parkin but not that often and I like that too.

    As a child we used to have 'treacle pudding' the sort that is made from suet pastry. All of us had golden syrup on it except my dad who always had black treacle. It was a favourite pudding for both of us.

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  15. What an evocation of memories! Eating parkin made by a Yorkshire born friend at my first Guy Fawkes' night in this country. Much as I raved about it, she wasn't all that keen to share the recipe. perhaps I didn't have sufficient northern credibility to be trusted with it.
    And Alison Uttley - I adored her Sam Pig books as a child and a few years ago I read Wild Honey a books of her essays and memoirs. Wonderful stuff! I will look for the recipe book you mention- right after I have a go at your cake for October.

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    1. Oh you must read her childhood memoir A Country Child and my favourite A Traveller in Time which is a lovely, lovely story.

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  16. Oh yum and yum and yum again. This looks so delicious. And I like the looks of your collection of tins, too.

    Best wishes.

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  17. I have lived in Derbyshire most of my life and never heard of Thor cake. We call it parkin! Sadly, whatever one calls it I can't eat it as I'm allergic to oats. Treacle toffee though...

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  18. Love posts like this about the various seasons and holidays of the year. And I love gingerbread. I just wish our molasses came in tins like that instead of a waxed paper carton which becomes soggy and useless by the time you get to the bottom.

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  19. Black treacle, for memory, has a mind of its own.
    I had a rye smile at the thought of you frantically twisting the tin. It always seemed to start its bid to coat both me and the kitchen almost before I'd had the lid off.

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  20. Lovely tins......... hadn't realised these special ones were out there.
    A parcel from Amazon arrived today with a copy of "Salt Sugar Smoke" (I ordered it having read about it in one of your previous posts). It has not disappointed and we have thoroughly enjoyed viewing the treats on every page. Happy times ahead!

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  21. I had no need of a new tin of treacle, but that 'trick or treacle' one made its way home with me the other day. To join the syrup tins that I seem to be stockpiling too. My Grannie (Lancastrian) used to make a fabulous, oatmeal free, sponge Parkin. I tried a Scandinavian ginger spice cake the other day for a change, but found it tasted too much of cardamom. Sometimes the traditional recipes are the best.

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    1. The Scandinavians love cardamom just like we love ginger. I already had an unopened tin of treacle too.

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  22. Anonymous9:07 pm GMT

    This is a great recipe for sticky black gingerbread also. I will give yours a try for comparison.

    http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/black-sticky-gingerbread-recipe.html

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    1. That one sounds good too. I love all gingerbreads.

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  23. Just about to leap into the breach on behalf of Lancashire when I see someone has beaten me to it! But yes, we certainly have Parkin in Lancasshire (though I am exiled nowadays!) and my Nanna made it every winter......black, moist, sticky and absolutely gorgeous. My mum took up the ....er....ladle and made one every Christmas and I continued the tradition for many years until the boys grew up and left home. One day, perhaps.......

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  24. That is the best recipe for gingerbread. So easy. And I am pleased to see that yours has tiny little pale bits in it too! I can never get it all dark. I usually freeze half, it gets really sticky that way as well. And it also looks fab cut into a ghost shape with white icing with eye shapes left uniced. Can you tell I make this quite often?! Ax

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    1. No matter how carefully I mix there are always pale bits. Love the ghost idea.

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  25. thanks for the heads up on the treacle tin. I haven't spotted this one but will hunt it down now. I too love the tins and they are dotted around the house with pencils and knitting needles etc in. Will try the gingerbread for bonfire at weekend, yours looks lovely, thank you.

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  26. Ah, I made parkin yesterday, but we went to the pub while it cooked and stayed too long! Remake today and I was looking at that gingerbread recipe yesterday too and thought I might chuck in some chopped up chunks of ginger out of a jar of ginger in syrup for a little surprise for unsuspecting consumers!

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    1. If I had had some preserved ginger I would have done that too -lovely.

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  27. I just love that Trick or Treacle tin!
    Thank you for sharing your recipe and it's so well explained through your photos too. I love anything with ginger in it!
    Great looking book too!

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  28. I've just tried your recipe, Sue - and it's delicious. Was daunted by the vast quantity so thought I'd mention that I halved the quantities and used a smaller tin and it worked fine.

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    1. That's good to know Mary. I'm afraid more is better in my house and I often scale up recipes rather than scale them down.

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  29. I'm so excited about that tin - I hope there are some left at the store! I've never made gingerbread before, but I think this is my year to start.

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