If anything reminds me of November, it’s gingerbread. That gloriously sticky, treacle texture which feels slightly claggy on the roof of your mouth and then leaves your palette with a wonderful hint of sweet ginger. Absolutely nothing like it.
My mum always used to say that the best way to sell a house was to have fresh flowers around the place and have baked either bread or gingerbread that day.
For me, the baking of gingerbread also means that bonfire night is upon us and Christmas is just around the corner. Both events make me tingle with glee inside, all that sparkle…
So today I made my first batch of gingerbread. Most recipes for this type of cake are very similar. I always find with things such as gingerbread that it’s a ballpark figure rather than an exact science, depending on your preference, especially with the spices.
I tend to do 2 teaspoons of fresh or stem ginger, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 of cinnamon and a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. They are all added to a pan which includes 200g of black treacle, 200g of syrup and 150g of butter and 125g of dark muscovado sugar – not for the faint hearted this recipe.
Allow all the aforementioned ingredients to meld into each other then turn off the heat. Meanwhile on another surface in the kitchen whisk two large eggs into 250ml of blue top milk* and add 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 2 tablespoons of warm water.
Throw the wet stuff into the pan of treacle stuff and watch the magic. The bicarbonate of soda makes the whole thing go frothy, and I have to admit, I get quite excited about seeing this happen. It’s like a chemical experiment.
On yet another surface, place 300g plain flour into a bowl then add all the rest of the brown, treacly mixture into it and stir. At this point you will be tempted to have a taste – do, it’s absolutely divine. Once mixed, pour into a rectangle oven proof dish or one of those silver foil things, which you will have greased and floured or lined with greaseproof paper. Put into a preheated oven gas mark 3, sit back and wait for around 45 – 60 minutes.
Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a wee while before cutting into large slabs or more delicate squares depending on how greedy you feel. Just a little tip here, gingerbread is better slightly underdone rather than overdone. When underdone it has that wonderful sticky texture. If overdone it becomes dry and then you can only really eat it with custard. I remember the time my sister made gingerbread at school. We ate it with custard.
Back to the gingerbread.
The glorious smell will fill your house and, if made in the afternoon, will be cool enough to eat with a cuppa just as the sun is setting.