Let’s talk about gingerbread and let’s talk about books. I absolutely love both these things. When it comes to reading, I like to read biographies of physicists/mathematicians, books about disasters involving radiation or chick lit / foodie books about women running cafés/bakeries. I work as a scientist, but I dream of owning a cafe (no need to state the obvious, eh?). My Kindle died many months ago and it was a sad, sad day. I downloaded the Kindle app on my iPad and then sulked about not having a Kindle for a while. Then, I got over myself and got into Kindle on the iPad, it is a little harsher on they eyes but it’s a small price to pay (literally, ha!) for many cheap books. This rambling leads me onto the point, which is that I discovered a new author (new to me, I’m sure she has been doing it a while), Rebecca Raisin, who seems to have discovered exactly what I want out of life and written novellas about every single aspect (owning a cafe, a book shop, a maple syrup farm, going to Bali – it is scary). Speaking a novellas, these are new to me but from what I can gather they are just short stories; delicious, addictive, short stories. She creates the best, realest characters; I get so lost in those books of hers. My favourites have to be the Gingerbread Cafe series (with a spin off called The Bookshop on the Corner and another spin off coming out in March called Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm). The Gingerbread Cafe series novellas are the perfect, quick and easy, festive reads with just the right balance of baking and romance. What more could you want?!
Here I’ll share my gingerbread recipe. I like my gingerbread biscuits to be spicy and crunchy. It might not be the most popular gingerbread style but if you are like me and like a bit of snap in your biscuit, then this one it for you. You’ll have to excuse the uninspiring photograph, I’d been baking for 5 hours by that point, making most of the bits and bobs to go into my Christmas gift hampers; inspiration was running low. I like to use spelt flour to make gingerbread, I tend not to eat grains but when I do, I try to stick to ancient grains as they induce less gluten effects in me. Plus, spelt has such a lovely depth of flavour and the ginger is powerful enough to not be subdued by it.
The picture above shows slightly less than two batches, the biscuit vultures were circling during baking.
- 350 g of spelt (or plain) flour
- 3 tsp of ground ginger
- 1.5 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 0.5 tsp of ground nutmeg
- 0.5 tsp of ground cloves
- 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
- 125 g of butter
- 175 g of light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp of golden syrup
- Icing to decorate, optional.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar, followed by the syrup, egg and spices.
- Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and stir well with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to form.
- Now the messy bit, stick your (washed) hands into the bowl and mix/knead until you have a dough formed. If it seems dry, just keep going, I promise it will get there.
- Turn the dough out onto the counter, for some last minute kneading, and then wrap it up in clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour. Cup of tea optional but recommended.
- Whilst your dough is chilling, your oven can be doing the opposite; preheat it to 180°C and line a few baking trays with baking paper.
- Flour your work surface and roll out your gingerbread dough, until about 5mm thick. I found it easiest to divide the dough into two before rolling out, and doing each half separately.
- Cut out into your desired shapes (in this case snowmen, but I’m not convinced) and bake for 12-15 minutes, until they turn a lovely golden colour. Scoops together left over dough bits and re-roll and cut, until you’ve used up all your dough.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Decorate if you so desire.