Friends have begun dropping in for pre-Christmas visits, and we're really enjoying seeing them. But this also means I need to have something good in the tins to offer them.
So last year I was really pleased with myself for coming up with the idea of gingerbread. I had a great recipe from my New Plynouth friend Beth that I'd never tried. It was perfectly simple and worked beautifully, producing deliciously sticky, spicy, fragrant gingerbread that kept well through the Christmas visiting season. And apart from the ones who couldn't eat anything with flour in, everyone liked it, including Harvey - ginger is one of his favourite flavours. Given a choice between Christmas cake and gingerbread, he'll go for the gingerbread every time.
I made it again this week. The mixture is, as Beth warned me, extremely wet, but don't let that worry you. It just takes quite a while to cook. I used two loaf tins this year, giving me deep slices which work well cut in half. On the whole people seem to prefer having two (or more) small pieces than one (or more) big ones, and it's a bit crumbly, so smaller slices are easier to manage. You'll see that mine sank a bit in the middle - I probably took it out of the oven a bit too soon. But it still tasted really good.
(via Beth - Esther is quiltmaker Esther Woollaston, who has also worked for Ruth Pretty).
280g (2 cups) plain flour
200g (1 cup) brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 dessert spoons of powdered ginger (I used 2 and a half, whcih seems about right)
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
360g (1 and 1/3 cups) golden syrup
225g butter (roughly diced)
250ml (1 cup) milk
* Preheat oven to 150C. Line either a 23 cm square tin or two loaf tins with baking paper (I folded mine double).
* Sift the flour into a large bowl, together with the brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder, and all the spices. Stir lightly to mix.
* In a small saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup together.
* Lightly beat the 2 eggs.
* Add the golden syrup and butter mixture to the dry ingredients, followed by the eggs and the milk.
* Combine everything well, using a wire whisk, and pour into prepared tin(s). The mixture will be very wet.