I can’t disentangle the smell of gingerbread from the smell of Christmas: I can think of no better welcome as people come through the door of the kitchen than the waft of it freshly baking in the oven. It is relaxingly simple to prepare, is good at any hour and keeps wonderfully.
I’m happy with it unfrosted, just left plain or perhaps snowily dusted with icing sugar, but if you want you can (as I do if it is for a bake sale) make a sharply contrasting icing by sieving 175g icing sugar and mixing it till thick and spreadable with a tablespoon of lemon juice and one of warm water. Spread this over the cold slab of gingerbread, and leave to set before cutting.
But it is, perhaps, the simplicity of the gingerbread, sticky with syrup and dark muscovado sugar, that makes me love it most. A square of it with a nice cup of tea would make even wrapping-up seem less vile, though I’d recommend having a pack of wipes nearby.
- 150g butter
- 200g golden syrup
- 200g black treacle or molasses
- 125g dark muscovado sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 x 15ml tablespoons warm water
- 250ml full-fat milk
- 2 eggs, beaten to mix
- 300g plain flour
1 Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3 and line a roasting tin or ovenproof dish (approx. 30cm x 20cm x 5cm) with Bake-O-Glide, foil or baking parchment (if using foil, grease it too).
2 In a saucepan, melt the butter over a lowish heat along with the sugar, syrup, treacle, fresh and ground gingers, cinnamon and cloves.
3 Take off the heat, and add the milk, eggs and dissolved bicarbonate of soda in its water.
4 Measure the flour into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. It will be a very liquid batter, so don’t worry. This is part of
what makes it sticky later.
5 Pour it into the prepared tin and bake for 45–60 minutes until risen and firm on top. Try not to overcook, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools.
6 Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the gingerbread cool in the tin before cutting into 20 squares, or however you wish to slice it.
Makes 20 squares
MAKE AHEAD TIP:
Make the gingerbread up to 2 weeks ahead, wrap loosely in baking parchment and store in an airtight
tin. Cut into squares as required.
FREEZE AHEAD TIP:
Make the gingerbread, wrap in baking parchment and a layer of foil then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 3–4 hours and cut into squares