I told you I was in love with this time of year, didn’t I?
Yes, I’m positively bursting with thanks for this season. It’s the dance between the cool and the warmth. The cold air encourages you to layer and rug up, to stop denying the chill and get snug so you can uninhibitedly embrace the beauty that surrounds you. The streets are quiet and the leaves are radiant, it’s windy and wet or it’s windy and sunny, sometimes the air is still… either way it’s alive and invigorating and you feel it. Indoors there are rugs and blankets, maybe a fire, and warm drinks like cocoa and warm food like ginger cake.
My mother’s mother loves ginger cake, and so do I.
I’ve spoken of my nana’s affection for ginger before, with this black sticky gingerbread recipe by Heidi Swanson. For Mother’s Day this year we made another, and it is, quite frankly, the best cake I’ve ever had. But first, some chutney.
Last Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, my mother and I spent some time in the kitchen.
A month ago I was kindly gifted a Home Preserving Deluxe Starter Kit from Ball®, and who better to supervise my preserving adventures than my mum. We emailed a few recipe ideas during the week, deciding on a seasonal, SPICED QUINCE CHUTNEY (recipe link), as mum had recently been gifted a bounty to supplement her own crop. I asked mum why she suggested this recipe, wondering how she knew it would be a gem? “I could tell from the balance of spices”, she said. Well, there you go. And a gem it is, delightfully balanced in sweet and heat, spice and zing. We sampled a spoonful alongside sausages and roasted vegetables for dinner that night, and the rest will sit for 1-2 months until it’s ready to complete my dream of the best roast beef sandwich.
Mother’s Day morning we drove back up the hill (which, at this time of year, lives up to its name, being positively covered in red mud) for breakfast with the family. I feel pretty lucky living so close to our grandparents. The older I get, the more I feel like my grandpa and I are twins. My mum too.
On the menu we had scrambled eggs by Ben, smoked salmon and trout, spinach and Dad’s sourdough bread. To follow, JUSTIN’S GINGER CAKE (recipe link), so dearly loved by my mother’s mother, my mother and myself.
We were all mesmerised by this cake…
If you’re familiar with Justin Gellatly and his work, I needn’t explain why his ginger cake is so good. For those who have not come across his recipes, firstly, go and purchase his book, and secondly, know that this cake is perfect. Somehow (witchcraft?) it is at once light and dense, with a gutsy, warming amount of ginger spice that is nestled into agreeability by the accompanying sweetness. The sauce and cream fraiche are encouraged, but not obligatory. I enjoyed a slice the following day plain and it was just as marvellous.
There are four generations in these photographs, with a 22 week old bub in my belly, enjoying the ginger cake. Happy Mother’s Day to all the ginger-loving mothers out there, those with us, those no longer with us and those who act as mother without having given birth. I’m beginning to realise on a new level just how special you are.