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Highland Ginger Cake

Although the alcoholic drink most associated with Scotland is Whisky, there is a long tradition of brewing in our country. In days langsyne it was safer to drink ale rather the water! Home brewing, as with distilling, started off as a homely necessity, with commercialism and government legislation following. We can now once again make beer and wine at home but whisky is still off-limits!

Scotland at one time was home to some of the biggest names in brewing but nowadays small, real ale producers rule the scene. The introduction of keg beer in the 60s almost saw the death of real ale – Scotland, in particular was a desert as far as ‘living’ beer was concerned. Now the wheel has turned full circle and real ale is on tap all over Scotland. The expansion of small breweries has also been dramatic over the past few years – stretching from the Valhalla Brewery, Unst, in Shetland down to the Peelwall Brewery, Ayton, in the Borders and from Fowler’s Ales, Prestongrange, in the east to the Cuillin Brewery, Sligachan, Isle of Skye, in the west, you will find a flourishing brewery in maist airts.The great advantage of real ales is that there really is something to suit all palates.

Much of this has come about because of the activity of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) who are the organisers of the 4th Scottish Traditional Beer Festival in the Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh, next week. Running from Thursday 8 June to Saturday 10 June 2007, the Festival will feature approximately 120 beers from more than 30 Scottish brewers, on sale all under the one roof. This would have been impossible only a few years ago. Now Ken Davis, CAMRA’s Scottish Director can proudly claim that “The festival is a unique event on the calendar which offers more choice of superb real ales under one roof than anywhere else in Scotland. The prestigious Champion Beer of Scotland competition will be judged on Thursday and no doubt Cairngorm Brewery in Inverness-shire will be looking for a hat trick before the World Cup after winning in 2004 and 2005.” The festival is open to the public on Thursday from 4-11pm, Friday and Saturday from noon-11pm, Admission including souvenir glass and programme is £4, Friday and Saturday after 6pm £5 ( Camra members £3 and £4).

Cairngorm Brewery is a splendid example of the rise of real ale brewers in Scotland. Founded in Aviemore in 2001 they have proved to be a great success – eighteen different beers have been brewed to date, of which seven are available throughout the year. In 2004 their smashing Trade Winds 4.3% ABV won the Champion Beer of Scotland. It was runner-up in 2005 to its stable-mate Black Gold 4.4% ABV bore the gree again for the Aviemore brewer. Visit to find out more about and how to visit the ‘champion’ brewery

This week’s recipe is beer-based in honour of the Scottish Champions and their Highland home of Aviemore – Highland Ginger Cake. It is a delicious cake worthy of any champion.

Highland Ginger Cake

Ingredients: 8 oz (225 g) butter; 4 oz (100 g) caster sugar; ¼ lb (225 g) black treacle; 2 eggs; ¼ pint (150 ml) sweet stout; 1 lb (450 g) plain flour; 1 teaspoon ground ginger; 1 teaspoon mixed spices; 4 oz (100 g) mixed fruit; 4 oz (100 g) mixed peel; 1 teaspoon baking soda

Method: In a bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add the treacle and eggs and mix in gradually the flour, ginger. spices, fruit and peel. Dissolve the baking soda in the beer and stir it into the cake mixture. Place the mixture in a well-greased baking tin and bake for 2 ½ hours in an oven preheated to 160 °C, 325 °F, or Gas Mark 3.

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