Massive apologies for the gap in posting. Something dreadful happened: Dr W bought me a copy of Spore, and my week subsequently vanished. It wasn’t just the week that disappeared – with it went my ability to sleep or get anything besides evolving, building cities, murdering pirates, searching for the Grox and colonising several star systems done. Still – I’m back now, and the really good news is that next week I will be blogging from Montreal, where I’ll eating at Toque! (apparently one of Canada’s best restaurants), Au Pied de Cochon (foie gras, duck, pigs’ feet, poutine), Schwartz’s Charcuterie Hebraique and plenty of other interesting spots, as well as hunting down some markets and delis. Spore is not coming with me to Montreal, so I’m all yours. This time, I’ve booked a suite hotel, specifically because it came with a kitchen. How many times have you been on holiday and found yourself antsy because you don’t have a fridge or oven to keep or cook that amazing and fascinating thing you found someone selling?
Anyway. Onto the gingerbread. This is a southern English gingerbread, not the northern parkin, which usually includes oatmeal along with the treacle. This gingerbread is a lovely dense, moist, dark cake, which will keep perfectly for more than a week if you wrap it tightly in greaseproof paper and tinfoil. Don’t eat this on the day that you make it – wrap it up and put it to one side for a day, and your gingerbread will become even moister and stickier overnight.
The pieces of crystallised ginger will sink in the tin, but this actually creates a very pretty jewel-like layer of ginger at the bottom of the gingerbread loaf. Turn it upside-down to serve so the jewelled surface is on top. To make gingerbread to fill a 1l loaf tin, you’ll need:
110g golden syrup
110g soft brown sugar
230g self-raising flour
1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
110g salted butter
150g crystallised ginger in syrup, drained and chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Grease the bowl of your weighing scales, and measure out the treacle and syrup. Pour them into a saucepan (patting yourself on the back for having had the foresight to grease the bowl) and warm gently, until the mixture reaches body heat. In another pan, dissolve the sugar in the milk over a low heat and set aside.
Sieve the flour, spices and bicarb together, and rub the butter into the mixture, as if you were making pastry, until you have a fine mixture resembling breadcrumbs. Add the ginger pieces and mix thoroughly. Use a balloon whisk to beat the milk and sugar mixture, then the treacle and syrup mixture, into the flour. Finally, beat the egg into the gingerbread batter with your whisk.
Pour the mixture into a greased and lined loaf tin, and bake for 1-1¼ hours, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the gingerbread comes out clean. Cool in the tin, turn out and wrap tightly for 24 hours before eating.