Gingerbread Loaf

Easy Gingerbread Loaf

Dark, moist and sticky, with a wonderful treacly sweetness and a hint of spice, this easy Gingerbread Loaf is the perfect autumn or winter treat. It is truly one of the easiest cakes to make and, if you follow my instructions (!), you will have very little washing up too.

Treats not tricks

I associate this cake with autumn and it has been a regular at Hallowe’en Parties and Bonfire Night celebrations over the year. When you have been out in the cold for a few hours, this is exactly the kind of cake that you need! It is not the healthiest recipe – and includes a lot of sugariness and quite a bit of butter – but I firmly believe that everyone needs the occasional sweet treat.

In my family, this cake is actually know as Trick Cake. This is because the finished cake looks very much like a chocolate cake although, obviously, it tastes totally different. When my youngest son was very young, he was adamant that the only cake that he would eat was chocolate cake. He was given a helping of Gingerbread Loaf, wolfed it down and announced that it was the best chocolate cake he had eaten!

An easy and versatile cake

This cake is made using the “melting” method. This means there is no faffing about with creaming butter and sugar or rubbing them together to resemble fine breadcrumbs. The butter is melted and, basically, all the ingredients are stirred together and then poured into a tin and baked. There is really very little likelihood of anything going wrong.

This cake also keeps very well. If you wrap the cooled cake in foil, it will keep for at least a week. In fact, it actually improves if it is kept as it will become stickier and the flavours will deepen. Needless to say, in my household, with three ravenous teenagers, the life expectancy of one of these loaves is generally measured in hours rather than days and they very rarely last a week!

Despite its autumnal associations, I make my Gingerbread Loaf recipe pretty much the year around. Partly because it is so easy to make and the also because it is so versatile. It is great with morning coffee or afternoon tea but it is also a really good cake to include in a lunchbox or a picnic or in your back-pack if you are going for a hike as it is quite robust. It has a sustaining quality which is a great pick-me-up if you are feeling a bit tired!

Gingerbread loaf

…but not very pretty!

The one slight negative point about this cake is that it doesn’t look particularly attractive. It is basically a big brown square! In order to make it a bit more attractive in the photographs, I was inspired to produce leaf silhouettes on the top of the cake. It is the matter of minutes to do this. You just need to gather some nicely shaped leaves (making sure that they are not poisonous!), wash and dry them, place them on top of the cake and then sift a little icing sugar over them. When you remove the leaves, you should get a nice leaf-shaped pattern to jazz up your boring brown cake!

Gingerbread Loaf

Other autumnal bakes..

If you are in the mood for an autumnal bake, you might also like to have a look at my recipes for Apple Cake, Ginger and Pear Cake, Blackberry Muffins, Cherry and Almond Cake or Latte Cake.

Gingerbread Loaf

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Gingerbread Loaf

Gingerbread Loaf

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: I large cake
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Gingerbread Loaf is one of the easiest, no-fail cake recipes.  It is dark, moist and sticky with a wonderful deep treacly sweetness and a hint of spice.  Perfect on a cold autumn or winter’s day!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 225 g butter
  • 225 g soft brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1 tin of treacle (454 g)
  • 350 g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 300 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs

Gingerbread loaf


Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 140C, 275F or Gas Mark 1.
  2. Grease and line a square 25cm cake tin.  Do not use a loose-based tin – the cake batter is very liquid and will run out of any gaps!
  3. Put the butter, sugar and treacle in a large, heavy-based saucepan.  Heat gently until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.  
  4. Sift the flour, ginger and cinnamon into the saucepan.  Stir to combine with the melted butter, sugar and treacle.
  5. Heat the milk either in a small jug in the microwave or in a separate pan until it is “blood heat”.  That is, warmed to the point where you can just keep your finger in the liquid without it being uncomfortable.   Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the warmed milk.  Then pour the milk into the large saucepan with the other ingredients.
  6. Whisk the eggs lightly and then add them into the saucepan.   Stir the mixture to combine.   
  7. Then pour the batter, which will be very liquid, into your prepared cake tin.
  8. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
  9. Remove the tin from the oven, place it  on a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the tin.

Gingerbread Loaf


Notes

  • If you want to make your rather boring brown cake look a bit more fancy, you can use a little icing sugar to make leaf-shaped silhouettes on the top.  Instructions are included in the blog post.

Keywords: Gingerbread, loaf cake, recipe

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare at A Strong Coffee  and on #Fiesta Friday at Fiesta Friday and #Baking Crumbs at Jo’s Kitchen Larder and Apply to Face Blog

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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Easy Pumpkin Soup

Easy Pumpkin Soup with Sweetcorn and Thyme

This Easy Pumpkin Soup brings together the natural sweetness of pumpkins, squash or sweet potatoes with sweetcorn. I have flavoured it with fresh thyme, which combines well with all the main ingredients, and have resisted the urge to add chilli. When I first made it, I thought that maybe it would be too sweet and might a bit of chilli heat. However, I tasted it before I added any chilli and decided that it was pretty good as it was. It has a thick, rich sweetness – a culinary equivalent of being wrapped in a warm blanked – which I think is perfect in autumn when the days are getting colder.

Choose your squash!

This soup can be made either with pumpkins, when they are in season, but is just as good using other squashes (such as butternut squash) or with sweet potatoes. What you need is a main ingredient that has a natural, starchy sweetness which is enhanced by slow cooking. As you will see from the recipe, I also add a regular potato to the soup. I tend to do this with most of my soups as it adds a natural thickness and body to the soup.

How to separate corn kernels from the cob – a guide for the terrified..

I also use fresh sweetcorn in this soup. The first time I came across a recipe that involved taking the kernels off the corn cob I thought it would be hard to do. However, it is really straightforward if you stick to the following process. 1) Get a sharp knife 2) Cut off the thicker end of the cob so that you have a flat base 3) Stand the cob vertically on its flat base and cut downwards with your knife to separate the kernels from the cob 4) Work around the cob until all the kernels have been removed.

The wonderful world of home-made soups..

I think making soup is an absolute no-brainer. Not only is it tastier than anything you can buy in a store, you also know exactly what goes into it and can adjust it to suit your own tastes. Making soup is also really easy and you can make it in advance and keep in the fridge or freeze it. If you like this Easy Pumpkin Soup recipe, you might like some of my other soup recipes such as Mushroom and Chestnut Soup, Fennel Soup, Celeriac and Apple Soup, Beetroot Soup with Coconut or Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Soup. All are vegetarian and most can easily be made vegan by swapping out butter for vegetable fat.

Easy Pumpkin Soup with Sweetcorn and Thyme

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Pumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup

Easy Pumpkin Soup with Sweetcorn and Thyme

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 pints of soup 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Pumpkin Soup with Sweetcorn and Thyme is thick, savoury and warming – the culinary equivalent of a hug!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • 1 small pumpkin or squash or 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 sweetcorn cobs
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 2 pints of vegetable stock
  • 1 large sprig of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Pumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup


Instructions

  1. Peel and roughly chop the onions.
  2. Peel and roughly chop the pumpkin, squash or sweet potatoes.
  3. Peel and roughly chop the potato.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the chopped vegetables.   Cook gently over a low heat for around 10 minutes until the vegetables are starting to caramelise.
  5. Using a sharp knife, remove the corn kernels from the cobs.  
  6. Add the corn kernels and the crushed garlic cloves to the pan together with the paprika.
  7. Add the vegetable stock to the pan and bring to simmering point.   Cook gently for 20 minutes.
  8. Separate the fresh thyme leaves from their stalk and add them to the soup.
  9. Blend the soup in a food processor or by using a hand blender.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.

Pumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup


Keywords: pumpkin, sweetcorn, soup

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare at Lost in Food and on #Fiesta Friday at Fiesta Friday

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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Mushroom and Chestnut Soup

Creamy and flavourful Mushroom and Chestnut Soup

This Mushroom and Chestnut Soup is just the ticket on those cold, grey January days when you need a bowl of warming comfort food. It uses a combination of fresh and dried mushrooms which gives it an added depth of flavour. These are combined with sweet chestnuts which are a great flavour partner for mushrooms and also thicken the soup and give it a creamy texture – with no added cream!

You can use any kind of fresh mushrooms for this soup. I generally use a combination of the big, flat capped-mushrooms which have a strong flavour and smaller button mushrooms. The addition of the dried mushrooms, which are one of my favourite ingredients, is what really makes this soup special. They add a deep, savoury umami  flavour which underpins that of the fresh mushrooms. Dried mushrooms are available in lots of supermarkets. I get mine from Tesco, which does great own-brand dried Porcini mushrooms but all major supermarkets have equivalent products and Merchant Gourmet also produces dried mixed mushrooms. You don’t need to add very many dried mushrooms to a dish – think of them as a condiment or flavouring – but they will have a major impact on the taste.

Ready-prepared sweet chestnuts can be found in most supermarkets. Merchant Gourmet produces a range of chestnut-products, including chestnut puree and whole chestnuts. There is no need to roast your own! Although traditionally associated with Christmas, I use sweet chestnuts throughout the autumn and winter, often combined with mushrooms, in soups, pies and sauces.

This soup resulted from me trying to find ways to use the flavour combination in my Mushroom and Chestnut Pies. I also developed a Creamy Mushroom Pasta sauce using the same ingredients which I use all the time, and is very popular with my children.

Here at Tastebotanical we have lots of other recipes for tasty, warming winter soups. What about Beetroot and Coconut Soup? Or Butternut Squash with Peanut Butter or Easy Pumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup? There is tasty Fennel Soup, with its subtle aniseed flavour, and classic Leek and Potato Soup. Vegetable soups are very easy to make and are a fantastic way to increase the amount of fresh vegetables that you eat each day. They are packed with fibre, nutrients and, of course, taste!

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Mushroom and Chestnut Soup

Mushroom and Chestnut Soup

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 people 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This comforting winter soup has a fantastic, deep mushroom taste due to the addition of dried mushrooms, and creamy texture from the addition of chestnuts.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 onions
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 10 g dried mushrooms
  • Half a teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme)
  • 500 g fresh mushrooms (any kind)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 180 g of whole, roasted chestnuts (such as Merchant Gourmet)
  • Approximately 500 ml milk (or nut milk)
  • 25 g butter (or vegan alternative)  and 1 tablespoon of plain flour (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan 
  2. Peel and chop the onion and slice the celery sticks finely.  Add to the pan together with the dried mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  If you are using dried thyme, add it at this stage.
  3. Cook very gently for around 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and sweet. Slow cooking caramelises the natural sugars in the vegetables and greatly improves the flavour of the soup.
  4. Chop the fresh mushrooms and add to the pan together with the crushed garlic cloves. Cook for a further ten minutes. 
  5. Add the vegetable stock to the pan and bring to the boil.
  6. As soon as the soup has boiled, take the pan off the heat and add the chestnuts.
  7. Allow the soup to cool slightly and then blend until smooth using a food processor or hand-held blender.
  8. Add the milk (or nut milk) to thin the soup to your desired consistency.   If using fresh thyme, add it at this stage.   Gently re-heat the soup.
  9. If you wish, you can make a beurre manie  which will thicken the soup and give it a creamier, silkier texture.  To do this, you should mix a little plain flour with some softened butter to make a paste and add it to the soup and heat gently until it thickens.

Keywords: mushroom, chestnut, soup

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare at Every Day Healthy Recipes

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Chestnuts – the perfect week-night supper

This Creamy Mushroom Pasta, with sweet chestnuts and caramelised onions, is just what I want at the end of a busy working day. It is savoury, full of flavour and, even better, is quick and easy to make and the sauce can also be made in advance.

Mushrooms and sweet chestnuts are great flavour partners and are two of my favourite ingredients. The savouriness of this dish is enhanced by using both fresh and dried mushrooms. You can use any type of dried mushroom in this recipe – most of the supermarkets sell a range including porcini, shitake and mixed. They add a real depth of almost meaty flavour to recipes that do not contain any meat! Ready-to-eat sweet chestnuts are also available widely in supermarkets. They are inevitably associated with Christmas but I use them all the year round. They have a sweetness and also a soft but firm texture that is fantastic in all kinds of savoury dishes.

Due to its deep savouriness, this dish is a great one to serve to meat-eaters. In addition to its flavour, it also has a good range of textures and a good “mouth feel” which means the lack of meat is not likely to be noticed! There are several variations that you can make to this recipe depending on your dietary preferences.

  • Vegetarian – I include anchovies in my recipe but, if you are vegetarian, you can leave them out. You may just need to add a little additional salt to the sauce.
  • Vegan – You can replace the butter with an additional tablespoon of oil, omit the anchovies and the cream. In order to make the sauce creamy, crush one third of the chestnuts into a paste and stir this into the sauce.
  • Healthier – Replace the butter with an additional tablespoon of oil and omit the cream. As above, crush one third of the chestnuts into a paste and stir this into the sauce.

You can use any kind of pasta to make Creamy Mushroom Pasta. I generally use a shorter pasta such as gigli (I love gigli!) or penne but I’ve made it with pretty much every type of pasta depending on what I have in my cupboard at the time.

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Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Chestnuts

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Pasta

Description

This Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Chestnuts is the perfect week-night supper.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 25 g butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • a handful of dried mushrooms (any kind)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of anchovies (optional)
  • 485 g fresh mushrooms 
  • 180 g pack of peeled chestnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of double cream
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 350 g pasta

Creamy Mushroom Pasta


Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onions and add them to the pan.  Crumble the dried mushrooms and add to the pan.  Cook over a low heat for around 15 minutes until the onions are sweet and caramelised and the dried mushrooms have softened.
  3. Peel and crush the cloves of garlic and roughly chop the anchovies. Add to the pan.
  4.  Finely chop half of the fresh mushrooms and slice the other half.  This gives some variety in texture to the pasta sauce.   Add the fresh mushrooms to the pan.
  5. Cook for ten minutes until the fresh mushrooms are cooked through.
  6. Roughly chop the peeled chestnuts into large chunks and add them to the pan.   
  7. Stir in the double cream and heat for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.  Chop the parsley and stir into the sauce.   Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as required.  You may not need to add salt as the anchovies will add saltiness to the mixture.
  8. In a separate pan, heat water to boiling point, add the pasta and cook according to instructions on the packet.  When done, drain and stir in the mushroom and chestnut sauce.

 

Creamy Mushroom Pasta


Notes

If you want to make this a vegetarian recipe, you can omit the anchovies.  Just make sure that you add a little salt to the sauce to compensate for the loss of their saltiness.

If you want to make this a vegan recipe, you can replace the butter with an additional tablespoon of oil, omit the anchovies and the cream. In order to make the sauce creamy, crush one third of the chestnuts into a paste and stir this into the sauce. 

If you want to make this a healthier recipe, replace the butter with an additional tablespoon of oil and omit the cream. As above, crush one third of the chestnuts into a paste and stir this into the sauce.

Keywords: pasta, mushroom, chestnut

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare at Recipes Made Easy
Cook Blog Share

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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