Although I meant to make my Robin Cake for tea time the other day, Circumstances prevented. Circumstances are such very annoying things; it's a wonder no one has done away with them yet!
I found the original for my Robin Cake recipe in the book Inside the Secret Garden (by Carolyn Collins and Christina Eriksson). It's a sweet book full of lovely go-with ideas gleaned from Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Robin Cake is a traditional English cake. But, my apologies to the authors, I tried the recipe and did not greatly care for the results because the cake seemed a bit dry and not very flavorful. Perhaps someone else might have better success than I--you can find the original on pages 64-65 of Collins & Eriksson's estimable little book.
In any case, I had also seen other recipes and I had read of English folks making their own personal variations (like coconut!) to the traditional concoction. Thus, I did what I tend to do anyway and messed about with the recipe until it suited me, melding it with some ideas for making a gingerbread. This is the result.
Ginger Robin Cake
1/2 cup ground oatmeal*
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger**
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dark syrup***
1 egg, beaten
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 400.
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together (ground oats, flour, sugars, ground ginger, nutmeg, baking soda). Cut butter into dry ingredients. (I prefer to do the old-fashioned way with two knives but a pastry cutter works fine, too.)
Beat an egg in a small bowl and allow to rest for a few minutes to come to room temperature. (This helps the batter to rise better.)
Stir milk and syrup together in a small saucepan and heat just until the treacle dissolves and the mixture is barely warm. (If it's too warm, it could cook the egg when you add it; obviously you want to avoid that.)
Pour the milk mixture into the dry mixture and stir to incorporate. Add the chopped crystalized ginger and the egg. Mix throughly.
Turn the batter into a greased 9 X 9 baking pan and spread evenly.
Bake in preheated oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until it is a lovely robin-like brown and a thin blade inserted comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes. Makes nine nice 3-inch square chunky pieces (or more if you're one of those who prefers things thinly sliced).
Place a small amount (a tablespoon or two) of confectioner's sugar in a sifter and gently dust over the top of the cake. This is optional, of course.
You might choose instead to serve the cake slightly warm with butter. Or if cool, with whipped cream. Or, if you're like me, with a spoonful of sour cream (which really tastes fantastic, by the way; I prefer sour cream with berries, too--maybe I'm just odd like that).
~*~ Of note ~*~
*Ground oatmeal: I pulse old-fashioned oats in the food processor until they are somewhat dusty but with some oatflakes still recongizable. This makes for a nice texture to the cake.
**Crystallized Ginger: Since this is my favorite stuff, I love to add it; but you might not. I chop it fairly roughly so it's in nice little chunks. And as a side note, you might want to add less ground ginger than I do. I love ginger and use it as a health herb but you might prefer a lighter taste.
***Dark Syrup: It's no mystery, dark treacle is not easy to find in South Mississippi and it's expensive when you can. I really love to use Golden Syrup but the cost of that can be very dear. So I use a domestic alternative: AlaGa dark cane syrup or, if I have it, honey or even a combination of the two. The flavor is a different than molasses but it's still very nice.
By the by, there is no salt added to this cake but it does not seem to suffer in any degree for the lack. Trust me, I'm eating Ginger Robin Cake as I type right now. Delicious!