To Protect Against the…Um…Sun…

I read some good news the other day.

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Apparently, chocolate contains something (one of its antioxidants or something) which helps protect against sun-damage. Now, admittedly I read this in a less than reputable place, but I’ll take any ‘study’ like this which results in even more good reason to believe that chocolate is good for me. As with all these studies, they stress that it is dark chocolate which has the greatest benefits. But that just means you have to eat more of either milk or white chocolate to get the same effect, right?

So, it protects against strokes (or is it heart disease?); it makes people happy; and now it protects against the sun. And those are just the things which I can remember off the top of my head. Not that I really need any of these reasons. I’ll eat chocolate whatever. It’s just tasty. Besides which, it’s made from something (cacao beans) which grow on trees. That makes it one of my five-a-day, doesn’t it? Especially if it’s a chocolate orange. I mean, that’s practically a fruit!

Given that I’m something of a sun-worshipper (I’m solar-powered, me), it’s quite heartening to find that one of my favourite things (chocolate) helps my skin. I like to think that my (somewhat vast) consumption of chocolate helps me stay warm in cold places – my veins and arteries are awash with molten chocolate, not blood. Now I hear it’s the reason that it takes a while before I begin to burn. It certainly explains why one of the best moisturisers I’ve found is a cocoa butter one.

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So what’re you waiting for? Go eat some chocolate – it’s good for your skin!

Gingerbread with Lemon and Blueberries

Do you have a favourite gingerbread recipe? Do you prefer to use golden syrup or gloopy treacle? By ‘gingerbread’, I am talking about the tea-time cake, not gingerbread men. Light and spongy or dark and heavy? Oo, that would make a nice base for a fruit cake. Must remember to try that at somepoint.

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Ginger is a wonderfully versatile sort of spice: it goes in both sweet and savoury recipes. Much underrated, if you ask me. Which you didn’t, not really, but never mind. You can have my opinion anyway.

It was my friend’s birthday at the weekend, and you need cake for birthdays. She wanted fruit. She likes ginger. So a gingerbread cake with lemon cream cheese icing and blueberries was planned.

 My mother makes a mean gingerbread drizzled with a lemon glaze and dotted with crystallised ginger. But I don’t have her recipe, and for some reason, the only ginger recipe I have in my myriad recipe books is a chocolate and ginger recipe. Which isn’t quite what we wanted. So an internet hunt is required.

The only problem with internet hunts of recipes is that you don’t know how good they are. I always have to look at at least half a dozen before I decide. And for thus one, I wanted a simple recipe which didn’t need me to get too many extra ingredients. So I found a nice simple one which only called for treacle besides standard cake ingredients. Some of the comments suggested using syrup instead, or a mix of the two. I thought I’d decide while I was in Sainsbury’s (i.e., pick the cheapest, which turned out to be treacle. So treacle it is).

Treacle always reminds me of that scene in 101 Dalmatians when Glenn Close falls into a vat of molasses (because farmers in wherever it was in England that they were routinely keep vats of molasses in their sheds. And raccoons are a native English species, don’t you know?).

Turns out, this recipe is quite good. The cake smells wonderfully of treacle (as well it might, given that it contains the better part of a pound of treacle) and the root ginger we added heightened the spices.

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And since I found this on t’internet (at allrecipes.co.uk), here’s the recipe. Let me know how you get on!

You will need:

100g caster sugar

125g butter

1 egg

225ml treacle

300g plain flour + 1-2 tsps bicarb of soda/300g self-raising flour

Spices: ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves

250ml hot water

I also added chopped root ginger.

To make:

The oven wants to be at 180C/Gas Mark 4. You’ll need to grease and line a cake tin.

Cream together the sugar and butter. Mix in the egg and then the treacle.

Sift together the flour, bicarb, and spices. Add to the treacle mix and stir well. Chuck in any chunks of ginger. Stir in the hot water.

Pour in tin and bake for about an hour/until a skewer comes out clean.

For Lemon Cream Cheese icing:

Mix cream cheese with icing sugar to taste and stir in a couple of drips of lemon juice.

Decorate with blueberries.