All in all, it’s just another cake in the wall: Golden syrup and ginger cake

I loathe school cake stalls with a passion. It’s not the baking per se. Baking is not my number one talent but I do have the ability to throw sugar, flour and eggs together in some configuration that will vaguely resemble a cake. Neither is it the inevitable edge of competition, the deep – in – your – soul sense of failure that is experienced in the face of perfectly iced, cellophane wrapped glories that will sell like hot cakes. I know my odd, nuggety offerings will not move without either heavy discounting and / or creative marketing. Often not even those tricks will work.

No, rather it is the subtle subtextual aura that surrounds cake stalls that bothers me. The feeling that I should be willing to walk in the door at the end of the days work and bake, dammit! That instead of my work boots, a head full of project logistics and needing a shot of straight spirits, I should be in a frock and apron and in control of my egg whites. Largely I suspect that this is an artifact of my distaste for authority and generalized resentment of the intrusion of school and work on our collective familial time, time that could be more profitably spent developing new and enjoyable methods of sticking it to the man. Whatever.

I tried suggesting to the kids that I could push a $20 donation the school’s way in an attempt to support the fundraising effort. This would probably raise more money and get me to the couch and Game of Thrones faster. My offerings typically sell very poorly, in fact I think my best success was the year that my own dear son actually purchased one of my cakes, so personally I thought this was a good solution. I then considered baking a cake that would be an iced replica of a $20 note. I also considered making a ridiculously huge croquembouche and sticking a $175 price tag on it, a little like this lovely beast from French Cakes Sydney.

Or this one from Cozzmic Cakes, which I think sends a pretty clear message.

I briefly toyed with a friend’s suggestion of making a few cakes and setting up a stall outside the school gates and flogging some wares to parents even less prepared than I. The problem with all of these options is the sheer amount of effort involved, which lead me to the more practical response of scrubbing out a jam jar and throwing a whole egg, a handful of flour and sugar into it, covering it with cling wrap and passing it off as one of those “cupcakes in a jar” deals. It turns out, however, that my kids evidently have poor senses of humor and a genuine need for me to participate willingly in their school lives. So I made a cake, my current backup cake that my kids (bless their little hearts) adore. It’s a ginger and golden syrup cake made with rapadura sugar and whole meal spelt flour. And you know what? It is actually pretty damn tasty. It’s golden and moist and spicy. I did have to manage my son’s price point expectations, though. He was thinking he’d make $2 a slice. I suggested that 50c would be better. We reached a compromise when I suggested that I could cut the cake into bigger pieces and he could sell them for $1 each.

Golden syrup and ginger cake

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup rapadura sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of golden syrup
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole meal spelt flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamon or cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 cup of hot water

Preheat the oven to 180 celsius and butter and line a square baking tin. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and golden syrup and continue beating. Mix in the dry ingredients and then the hot water and beat until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 mins to an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.


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