Monday, 30 January 2012

Iced Gingerbread with Stem Ginger

Recipe Number One Hundred & Fifty One:  Page 83.

With each passing week I'm finding it ever harder to pick out which recipes to make. The choice is becoming rather limited. While I flicked through the Baking Bible trying to make a decision I realised I'd neglected the 'Spiced Cakes' section of the book. Mary is obviously partial to the odd slice of ginger cake as there are numerous recipes. As I'd only made a few gingery cakes I thought it about time I cracked on and made another!

I have so many ingredients clinging to the kitchen shelves; packets of flour and sugar often fall off on their own – it certainly keeps the dustpan and brush busy! It therefore took a while to see if I had all that was required for the gingerbread. My rummage revealed that I was short of golden syrup; a trip to the shop was needed!

We headed into town bright and early as Neil's car had to go in for its MOT. We hit the shops while we waited and a lovely morning was had by all. On our way to collect the car I realised I forgotten the golden syrup – whoops! Unfortunately the car wasn't ready and would have to stay in the garage over the weekend. Thankfully we were given a courtesy car – it was so small we barely managed to wedge Isaac's giant pushchair in but we were glad to be able to get home!!

As we'd arrived home later than planned, the cake making was pushed back in favour of a cup of tea and a sit down. Once the caffeine was coursing through my veins, I felt ready to visit the village shop. I almost shouted for joy when I saw the tins of golden syrup – I'd convinced myself they wouldn't have any. Not only did they have the precious syrup, but the tins were huge and would last for ages. Another thing to add to the overflowing shelves!

Once Isaac was in bed I went into the kitchen to start baking. I had been late taking the butter out of the fridge, so it was still a bit on the firm side. I decided to add it to the bowl as it was and not attempt to soften it any further. To the butter I added the same quantity of light muscovado sugar along with a couple of eggs. Now came the sticky part! I gingerly tipped the thick dark treacle into the bowl and then moved onto the huge tin of golden syrup. I foolishly tipped the syrup straight into the mixing bowl, forgetting that not only was it a large tin but also that it was full to the brim. Golden syrup gushed from the tin at great speed and I let out a shrill shriek! I quickly moved the tin away from the bowl before I added too much. Due to my haste there was a very sticky thick trail down the side of the tin and across the kitchen worktop. Thank goodness for the kitchen towels; I required several sheets to wipe up the mess!!

With freshly washed hands I collected a balloon whisk from a drawer. So not to wake Isaac I decided to forgo the electric whisk and do it manually. This was a mistake; it not only took ages but also the butter didn't combine properly. It obviously wasn't soft enough! I had tiny lumps of butter bobbing about in the runny black mixture. It did NOT look good! I hoped that the addition of flour might help. I read the instructions and saw that I should sieve the flour and spices together first before adding them to the bowl. I grabbed the plain flour from the shelf and tipped it straight into the bowl – WHOOPS!! I didn't think there was much point in sifting the ginger and mixed spice so I also added it straight to the mixing bowl. Very carefully I folded the flour and spices into the dark treacly mixture and prayed it wouldn't go lumpy. The next task was to stir a small amount of bicarbonate of soda into a few tablespoons of milk. I half imagined that the mixture would fizz up but, rather disappointingly, it did absolutely nothing! Now I just needed to pour the milk into the mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Sadly the little butter lumps had not disappeared and were now joined by tiny lumps of flour – deep joy! I felt I had little choice but to sieve the mixture into the awaiting tin. It took a little while for the mixture to work its way through the tiny holes as they quickly blocked with butter. This meant I had to work it through with a spoon – by this point I had little hope for this cake, surely it would be tough and chewy due to all the over handling?

I placed the doomed gingerbread into a moderate oven to cook for just over an hour. The smell of the cake cooking was out of this world – it really is a delicious smell. Once out of the oven the gingerbread looked perhaps a little flat but otherwise rather yummy with a lovely sticky top! As gingerbread keeps so well, I decided to ice it the following day.

Icing sugar is no friend of mine so I didn't feel very enthusiastic when I came to ice the gingerbread! Once I had sifted the icing sugar and enveloped myself in the sugar cloud, I moved on to measuring in a few tablespoons of stem ginger syrup and a little water. I wasn't happy about the idea of mixing in some chopped stem ginger as I didn't think it looked very pretty! I was left with a spreadable but lumpy icing to pour over the gingerbread. Thankfully I'd remembered to place the cake on a wire rack set over a baking tray. Most of the icing seemed to skid straight off the sides of the gingerbread and onto the tray!!!

I was a bit worried about trying this cake as I feared it might be almost inedible. It was perhaps a little on the chewy side but still had a pleasant texture. I found the flavour of treacle to be a little overwhelming; it certainly gave the gingerbread a kick! The icing helped to calm things down so, despite the mess, it was worth it. Neil said he really enjoyed this gingerbread and liked the strong flavour. So, after a somewhat forgetful day, things turned out alright in the end – phew!
Gingerbread with dribbly icing!! ;-)

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