It’s no great secret that I’m a cake girl. I love desserts, pastries, cakes, ice cream, chocolate, literally anything sweet. Living in France is like a dream come true as the patisseries are mouth-wateringly divine.
However, every so often I find myself hankering for a childhood favourite. And that for me has always been ginger cake. I remember bugging my Mum to get the McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake you’d find in the supermarkets, so I could take it for packed lunch at school.
There is something about its fiery taste and stickiness that just warms me from head to toe. And when you pair it with a good red wine it’s absolutely heavenly. It’s the perfect Sunday afternoon treat. Especially good during those winter months sitting in front of the fire when it’s cold outside.
Unfortunately though, ginger cake is not readily available over here in rural France. And a gluten free version is like hoping for Xmas to come not once but twice in a year. But I’m now actually seeing this as a blessing because it’s forced me to experiment and try making my own.
Finding Gluten Free Options in France
Now the reason this is gluten free is because my friend Nicky, who also happens to be my hairdresser, is gluten intolerant. And whilst France have definitely got better with their GF range it’s still pretty limited. Also, what’s really strange is my LeClerc has a better GF range than hers So as a treat I thought I’d make her a cake.
Before I give you the recipe I should mention that some of the items you need to make this cake are not readily available in France. This means you need to import a few essentials that you simply can’t find on the English aisle in SuperU, LeClerc or Carrefour.
I’ll admit, even though I mostly embrace French life, sometimes I need some food from home. At the end of the day, whilst you can take the girl out of England you can’t take England out of the girl. Even when I lived in Australia my Mum used to send me food parcels with huge tins of Marmite. I mean let’s be honest here Vegemite isn’t a patch on Marmite.
So it stands to reason that here in France I still need my fix of certain English delicacies. Things like:
- Marmite (of course)
- Hula Hoops
- Monster Munch
- Heinz Baked Beans & Salad Cream
- Ambrosia Custard
- Rowntrees Fruit Pastels,
- Cadbury’s Chocolate
Strange little line up I know but don’t judge me on my terrible taste in junk food.
This being the case I quickly found myself a reasonably cheap way to get the items I needed delivered straight to my door. If you’re planning to live in France and you’re a Brit who can’t live without certain items you need to visit the British Corner Shop. They have a huge range and they deliver really quickly. Word to the wise though, get your Xmas order in early, like in November, that way you won’t be disappointed.
The Best Red Wine to Accompany Your Ginger Cake
Alright, now you know where to get the items you just can’t find in France, what about the wine?
So for me, ginger cake is definitely best eaten when accompanied by a glass of red. But not just any old red, my recommendation is a rather lovely Malbec from Cahors. Living in the South West region of France naturally I’m going with a wine from that region.
This Malbec pictured below is not only amazing value, I usually pay no more than €4.50 a bottle, but it’s a lovely earthy red that is reminiscent of an Australian Shiraz. You can read more about the Matayac Malbec right here >>>
- 75g soft brown sugar (sugar in France is slightly different but you can use cassonade-sucre or sucre vergeoise)
- 75g Black Treacle (British Corner Shop)
- 75g Golden Syrup (British Corner Shop)
- 75g butter (beurre)
- 175g self-raising flour GF (British Corner Shop)
- ¼ tsp Xanthan gum (British Corner Shop)
- 4tsp ground Ginger (gingembre moulu)
- 2 tsp ground Cinnamon (cannelle)
- ½ tsp of ground Nutmeg (muscade)
- 1 Egg beaten
- ¾ tsp Bicarb of Soda mixed with 75ml of water (bicarbonate de soude)
Before getting started make sure you pull everything out of the cupboard. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees if it’s a fan oven and 170 if it isn’t. Grease your loaf tin and use either greaseproof paper or use a loaf tin case that just sits in it.
This next bit is the longest and messiest part of the process as you need to transfer the treacle, syrup, sugar and butter into a saucepan with around 75ml of water. I’ll warn you now the treacle doesn’t go anywhere fast and is REALLY sticky. Anyway, once it’s all in the pan, heat it gently and stir so it’s all melted together. But don’t let it get to the boil.
Grab your mixing bowl and sift your flour, all your spices and your Zanthan gum into the bowl. Then add in the warm mixture from the saucepan and beat it all together. Once looking nice and smooth add in your egg a bit at a time and beat that too.
Finally, add in your bicarb of soda mixed with the water, (make sure they are well mixed together) and beat until your mixture is smooth but quite runny.
Pour it all into your loaf tin and pop it in the over for about 50 mins. When your timer goes off, stick a skewer into the cake to see if it’s cooked properly. We don’t want the outside to burn. If the skewer is clean your cake is ready to come out and cool.
Presenting your cake the right way
Now I know it’s hard because your kitchen will smell amazing right now and all you’ll want to do is devour the cake whilst it’s warm. BUT this cake is better once it’s been left standing for a while, so do try to resist if you can.
As always, part of the fun of baking a cake for me is how you present it. And today I’ve opted to style it up with silver as the star of the show. My main kitchen has silver flecks woven throughout the splashback tiles, so that was my inspiration. Using some delicate silver rimmed wine glasses, candlesticks with silver candles and a silver plate to serve, felt appropriate.
And of course, the red wine just makes the whole thing pop and showcases the cake on its grey marble platter perfectly.