Welcome back to my blog and my autumn of baking series. I really enjoyed tackling a nostalgic take on a Bakewell tart in my last post, so if you fancy a read, click here!
As the nights have got colder and darker this week, there is nothing I enjoy more than switching on the oven and filling the kitchen with warming sweet sugary smells. In that vein, I wanted my bake this week to reflect that cosy feeling, so I decided to whip up a batch of gingerbread.
There is something very comforting about the ingredients that make up gingerbread. Warm spices, like cinnamon and ginger, evoke the start of the run up to Christmas. And the mixture of golden syrup, butter and sugar melting produce a smell (one of the best baking smells in the world, in my opinion!) that takes me right back to my childhood and making my first chocolate crispy cakes with my mum.
The first recipes for Gingerbread date to the time of the Ancient Greeks, and since then, have been adapted by countries around the world into a different varieties. Gingerbread can span from a sticky ginger cake, famous in parts of the UK as Parkin, to crispy ginger biscuits, known to the Germans as lebkuchen. The first gingerbread houses were inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale, Hansel and Gretel and to this day, Gingerbread is an artisan export of major cities in Germany.
It has also, to my surprise, been associated with having medicinal qualities since the medieval ages, when gingerbread was said to cure a number of physical complaints – well, I certainly think that whipping up a batch of gingerbread makes me feel better!
The recipe I have chosen has been adapted from one for Gingerbread men from the Good Food website. It has the added extra of stem ginger, which makes the biscuits deliciously gingery and creates a slightly chewier texture. It is also very easy to bake to make – particularly with children who can help with stirring and decorating.
Here is the recipe…
Makes 12 big gingerbread men/or 3 trays of medium sized biscuits
For the biscuits
140g unsalted butter (I used salted butter)
100g dark muscovado sugar
3 tbsps. golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 balls of stem ginger, from a jar, chopped
500g icing sugar
Your choice of decorations (anything from silver balls to sprinkles!)
A large saucepan
A wooden spoon
A large mixing bowl
Two baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper
Your choice of cutters (I used a medium star and heart)
A fish slice
How to make the bake
- Heat oven to 200C/180C/Gas 6. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix flour, soda, spices and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir in the butter mix and chopped ginger to make a stiff-ish dough. (ESB Top Tip : To mix the dry ingredients together well, sieve them into the bowl together before adding the butter mix.)
- Wait until cool enough to handle, then roll out dough to about 5 mm thick. Stamp out gingerbread men (or biscuit shapes!) re-rolling and pressing the trimmings back together and rolling again. (ESB Top Tip : To roll out without the dough sticking to your surface, put a sheet of cling film underneath where you are rolling, and another wrapped around the rolling pin. This avoids the need to use extra flour when you are rolling out.)
- Lift onto baking sheets. Bake for 12 mins until golden. (ESB Top Tip : Easier shapes can be more effective than intricate cutters as they are bold and don’t have the tendency to tear. The smaller the biscuits are, the less time they take, so keep an eye on the oven until they are starting to brown around the edge.) Cool 10 mins on the sheets, then lift onto cooling racks.
- When the biscuits are completely cool, it’s time to decorate. To decorate, mix icing sugar with a few drops of water until thick and smooth. (ESB Top Tip : Be careful with the amount of water you add at a time as the icing can easily get too runny, too quickly. You can always add more sugar to the icing, if you add too much water! ) Spoon the icing into a sandwich bag, snip off the tiniest bit from one corner, then decorate in anyway you choose. Will keep up to 1 week in an air tight container.
- I suggest serving with a steaming cup of tea to dunk in and a roaring fire to settle down in front of!
My final thoughts on making gingerbread are that they are a real pleasure to bake and eat and would be the perfect bake to make with children or as a last minute present. The texture of the finished biscuit is beautifully chewy, but both soft at the same time and absolutely delicious!
Thank you for popping by my blog today and reading about my exploits into gingerbread making. I hope I have inspired to get in the kitchen and whip up a batch yourself. If you decide to make your own, do tag me in any pictures on Instagram @EnglishSingingB #esbautumnofbaking.
I hope to see you next week on Wednesday at 1800 GMT for another new bake but until then,
English Singing Baker x