Gingerbread

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 treacle
110g soft brown sugar
280ml milk
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
1 egg
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.

10 Replies to “Gingerbread”

  1. Not half. Yay gingerbread.

    As regards the poutine…we’ll see. The Au Pied de Cochon one has a big slab of foie gras on top, so it can’t be *that* grim.

  2. Just for you, Deepa, I’ll make an exception. Eat a couple of slices while it’s still warm – and *then* wrap it up for 24 hours. I promise there will be a (very fabulous) difference.

  3. As a true Montrealer, I must say : poutine is awesome. Sure, it’ll clog up your arteries and build a home in your bottom straight away but hell, it’s definitely worth it! My best spot for poutine and also, what I think is more authentic than the rather artsy foie gras poutine served at the “Pied de Cochon”, is called “La Banquise”. On Rachel Street, right next to the Parc Lafontaine. More varieties than you can imagine, from the classic cheese curd and brown sauce to some with hot peppers, minced beef, bacon and much, much more. You will never regret a poutine at “La Banquise”!

    Have a great trip in Montreal!

  4. Ah – I cheat with the quinces. I have a tree. Quinces are stupidly expensive at retail if you’re going to be making jelly etc. with them; if you can make friends with someone who has some in their garden, though, they’ll probably be more than happy to take some off your hands. Quinces are prolific – my Mum’s (more established) tree produces about 10kg a year.

  5. Argh you said “quinces” – the plural is “quince”. I shall have to shoot you now.

    Fortunately for my continued health (and for my job, given that…you know, I edit cookbooks for a living and all that), you’re actually wrong on this one. I checked the OED and Fowler in a moment of self-doubt, and quinces is a perfectly acceptable plural. So nee ner. All this said, I heartily endorse grammatical pedantry in the comments on this blog, so please continue to pull me up if you think I’ve made a mistake anywhere else!

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