It is well and truly the baking season. Amongst such festive treats as Christmas Cake and Panforte, cresting my baking list this year is gingerbread. First I had to find the right recipe. You see, I didn't want just any gingerbread. I wanted thin, brittle, spicy gingerbread biscuits. Not big, spongey soft gingerbread. So, I ruled out any recipes with baking soda, and favoured one with lots of golden syrup, and lots of flour. I ultimately adapted this recipe from one I found on taste.com (one of my more trusted recipe websites). Then, due to a sudden realisation I'd lost my cookie cutters, I also decided to refrigerate the dough over night, which also helped the chill the butter and enhance the crispiness (and allowed me to go out and buy all new adorable cutters). And finally, due to concerns (voiced by someone who lives here who isn't me) about the quantity of baked goods produced in this house for ostensibly two mere people, I decided to go and double the original recipe to make enough gingerbread for us both to take to work to share.
- 250g unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup golden syrup
- 2 egg yolks
- 5 cups plain flour
- 3 tablespoons ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Icing sugar and butter to decorate
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and golden syrup until it's pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix these through. You can keep the egg whites in the fridge and use them for something else later.
Then, add the five cups of flour and spices. If it seems like shitloads of flour, that's because it is. Don't worry, it will mix in easily enough. Use a big wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients in until it forms a crumbly mixture. Then tip this out onto a clean surface, and mash it all together with your hands until it forms a smooth glossy ball.
Break the dough into about three pieces and wrap them tightly with glad wrap, and pop them in the fridge overnight, or for at least one hour.
When you're ready to bake the gingerbread, heat your oven to 180 Celcius. I've worked out that my oven is quite fast so I set mine to 175. Adjust your own oven as appropriate. Then roll out your dough on a floured surface with a heavy rolling pin until it's thin and even (2-3 mm). Cut into biscuits with your cutters and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Re-roll any scraps of dough until there's only tiny bits left. Eat these tiny bits, because waste is shameful and also it's delicious.
Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown (keep check on your first batch, as depending on your oven they may need a few minutes more or less). Allow to cool on the tray for a minute and then move them to a cooling rack. The gingerbread will harden as it cools.
The cutting and baking production line may go on for about an hour, so it's a good idea to have a glass of wine handy while you're working. After all, it is the gorging and gurgling season.
Then ice your biscuits and impress your workmates!