It’s getting closer to Christmas, whichever way you try to spin it, and Christmas means an abundance of lovely food.
There’s a huge selection of fantastic Christmas recipes on the BBC Good Food website, or on Christmas Is Coming. This recipe for Sticky Gingerbread is just one that I found in The Great British Book of Baking and decided to make because it looked lush — but it’s still preparation for Christmas in my eyes.
I’ve made this twice so far — once just for the family and once when I went to have dinner at someone’s house — and it worked really well both times. It’s really easy to make and tasted like I’d poured hours of my time into it. Which I didn’t, it only takes about an hour and a half, and that includes 45 minutes baking time.
- 225g of self-raising flour
- 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (one tablespoon if you like cinnamon or really want the Christmas feel)
- 1 teaspoon of ground mixed spice
- 115g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 115g black treacle
- 115g golden syrup
- 115g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 275ml milk (not skimmed, though)
- 1 medium free-range egg
You’ll also need a loaf tin (the 2lb one here has the exact right dimensions according to the recipe).
Start by pre-heating the oven to 180C. Sift the flour and the ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice together in a large mixing bowl and mix together well. Dice the butter, add it to the mix and rub it in. The best way I’ve found to rub in is to shake the bowl until the cubes of butter are covered in flour and then rub the butter and the flour together with the very tips of your fingers. When ready it should look like fine breadcrumbs. Shake the bowl when you think you’re done — all the big lumps will come to the top.
The recipe then says to spoon the treacle and the golden syrup into a pan and warm gently until melted and runny. This is NOWHERE NEAR as easy as it sounds. Dark treacle is particular is a pain in the arse, and both myself and my kitchen were covered in the stuff before very long. The only advice I can give you is that it’s easier to get the stuff off a wet spoon than a dry one, and don’t fuss too much about getting the amounts perfectly right. One, you won’t do it. Two, I used a little extra of each in the second cake I made and it was stickier than the first. (UPDATE: Mia says covering the spoon in oil beforehand makes everything slide off. Thanks for the tip!)
The treacle and syrup mix doesn’t need to be hot, just runny. When it hits that point, set it aside until it’s lukewarm. Whilst it’s cooling pour the sugar and milk into another pan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. It needs one helluva good stir to get the sugar melted; just keep going until the bottom of the pan doesn’t feel “bitty”.
When the milk and the sugar are lukewarm, whisk it into the flour and follow quickly with the treacle mix. Beat the egg and add that too, mixing until you get a smooth, thick batter. The recipe says it should be the consistency of butter cream, and it should be a lovely warm colour.
Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and put it in the centre of the pre-heated oven. It needs to bake for about 45 minutes — check it after 40 because if your oven is anything like mine (i.e. constantly having mood swings, changes of mind and periods of awful behaviour) it might be ready before then. When a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, it’s ready. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the loaf tin and then leave it to cool completely. Turn it out, and it should look a little like this…
You’re supposed to wrap the loaf in foil and leave it for at least a day before you eat it. The first time there was absolutely no chance of this happening; pretty much as soon as it was out of the oven my family were attacking it.
I did it the second time and it was definitely stickier; apparently the longer you leave it the stickier it gets. Just wrap it in foil and store it in an airtight container. You can eat it with custard, ice-cream, whipped cream, on its own, anything really. It tastes lovely hot or cold. My favourite way to eat this is to heat it up, douse it in maple syrup and eat it with vanilla ice-cream. It makes me happy, as this ridiculous photo of me shows:
If you want to see more photos of my Gingerbread making (they’re nowhere near as ridiculous as the above one) I have a Flickr photoset here.