Monday 28 December 2009

Gingerbread Squares

I had always thought that gingerbread meant gingerbread men. I don't think I've had once for years, but I remember them as being rather hard and bland little fellows. This caught my eye when I was trawling for stuffing recipes, and realised I was wrong - this type of gingerbread is full of delicious flavours and very damp and sticky.

Then I read on and found that it was asking me to use not just one, but two different jars of syrup (including the ever elusive black treacle!) to create it - I could hardly contain my childish excitement. There's just something about spooning liquid sugar into saucepans that reverts me back into a little girl (along with falling snow, tickles and too many other things to admit to...). But then, I've raved about golden syrup before (see Ginger Oats for more). I'm also in the midst of a bit of a fresh ginger obsession, so the idea of grating some of that in didn't harm.

I slightly overcooked this - my mum's oven has become decidedly angry over the past six months and seems to want to scorch everything within its grasp. It was still lovely, just not quite as damp as expected. You can definitely taste the influence of the fresh ginger - though it's not overpowering - creating a harmony with the spices while the strong treacle backs it all up. I wouldn't say it particularly reminded me of Christmas but it was perfect with a cup of tea - and worked a dream as crumbs in some mincemeat soufflé-esque puddings I made.

(From Nigella Christmas. Makes about 20 squares.)

150g butter
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle or molasses
125g dark muscavado sugar
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 tbsp of warm water
250ml full milk
2 eggs, beaten
300g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 170° C and line a tin (approx. 30cm x 20cm x 5cm or I made mine in a circular tin of a similar size) with foil or baking parchment (if using foil, grease it too).

In a saucepan, melt the butter over a lowish heat along with the sugar, syrup, treacle, fresh and ground gingers, cinnamon and cloves. (I found that spooning the syrup into a cup or bowl was the only way to contain it while weighing - though it took a fair amount of spatula work to get it all out again!). Take off the heat, and add the milk, eggs and dissolved bicarbonate of soda in its water. Measure the flour into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. It will be a very liquid batter, so don’t worry. This is part of what makes it sticky later.

Pour it into a prepared tin and bake for 45-60 minutes until well risen and firm on top. Try not to overcook, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools. Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the gingerbread cool in the tin before cutting into 20 squares, or however you wish to slice it. Dust with icing sugar if desired.