- Food & Drink
There’s something smugly pleasing about turning an inedible lump of food waste that was destined for the bin into a slab of tasty sponge cake. Albeit, only smugly pleasing if I ignore the fact that I allowed some food to go rotten in my fridge in the first place. I gloss over that bit of the bin cake process and just focus on the magnificent results.
The reason I let the milk go sour is because I’m currently working my way through Tea Mountain. This isn’t an actual mountain, but a large silver caddy filled with bags of fancy leaf teas I’ve been given or bought over the past year or two.
Fancy leaf teas are the kind of thing that appeal to me when I’m feeling aspirational. “How sophisticated!” I think, “I’ll invite my friends round, we’ll drink tea from a teapot, eat tiny cakes and discuss literature, the arts and political stuff.”
In reality, when I invite my friends round, we drink wine, eat chips and play increasingly obscure games of Shag, Marry, Kill (the round where I had to choose between Robert Peston, John Simpson and Andrew Marr was particularly tricky). The bags of hand-plucked white tea and rosebud strewn black tea stay in their caddy, unwanted and ignored. When I do remember to drink tea, it’s a tan-tights stew of builders brew made with papery bags and a splash of milk that has to be suspiciously sniffed before being poured.
But I’m trying to make my way up Tea Mountain and drink it down to size. My bleary mornings are now sluiced with sencha tea from Japan, jasmine tea from China and, weirdly but not unpleasantly, gingerbread flavoured red bush tea from God Knows Where. And none of these teas need milk. Which means the milk sniffing is now 100 times more likely to result in gagging and retching.
Hence the sour milk. And even more hence, the sour milk, chocolate and ginger cake. It’s a solid little cake hewn from lumpen milk and the ends of bags of flour and jars of ginger. If I’d had some dark chocolate tucked away in the cupboard I would’ve chopped it up and added it with the ginger.
The cooking time is approximate because my oven can, at best, be described as capricious. At worst I’d say it’s just plain broken and I’m hopeful that one day soon I’ll have an oven that doesn’t pick temperatures on a whim and occasionally swing the door open when my back is turned. Still, the cake came out baked and if I can make a cake out of spoiled dairy in a creaking heap of an oven, then I’m sure you can too.
Sour milk, chocolate and ginger cake
60g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
200g self raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g soft light brown sugar
60g stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped
2 medium eggs, beaten
300ml sour milk (or buttermilk if you haven’t been slatternly enough to let a load of milk go sour)
Preheat the oven to gas mark/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Grease a 20cm square cake tin with butter and line the base with baking paper. Set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, spice, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and stem ginger.
Beat the eggs and sour milk together and then stir them into the dry ingredients with the melted butter to combine. Scrape the batter into the cake tin and bake for around 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.