I recently heard of the concept of a ‘house-cooling’ (from the infinite wisdom that is Kinfolk magazine). This is pretty self-explanatory, being the opposite of housewarming: it involves saying a fond farewell to a dwelling that has provided so many memories, and welcoming in the transition and all its exciting new developments. My friends Alex and Heather have lived on a houseboat for the past 3 years. The time has come to say goodbye to the converted Dutch barge, and they are moving out of the boat onto dry land.
I made this dark and sticky ginger and date cake to take to the ‘boat–cooling’ gathering. I felt that feeling something stodgy and spicy might be in order, not least to fuel the impending sorting and moving of an entire boat-worth of stuff. We ate the cake huddled in the warmth of the boat, feeling the calm sway of the water and remembering all the many previous days and evenings spent there. This time felt poignant given the shift in seasons too – saying farewell to the boat and farewell to summer. There was a definite fizz of excitement around the anticipation of the next exciting phase, of things to come.
300g plain flour
4 pieces of stem ginger
2 tbsp stem ginger syrup
200ml date syrup (plus 2 tbsp extra for drizzling)
100g pitted dates
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp milk
1 ½ tsp baking powder
I used a square tin approx. 30 x 30cm, lined with baking parchment.
Preheat oven to 170C.
Mix flour, baking powder and cinnamon together. Chop the dates and stem ginger pieces into roughly equal sized pieces and add both to the flour mixture. Melt the butter in a pan with the date and ginger syrup and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until incorporated, then beat in the eggs and milk. Pour into the lined tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is springy. Drizzle about 2 tbsp date syrup over the warm cake.