Gingerbread Madness: Gingerbread Cookies and Nigella's Fresh GingerbreadFriday, December 16, 2011
Things have gone a little mad over here. I've caught the gingerbread bug.
We've been back in London for just over a week now, and my, how things have changed. The sun is only half up by 8am, and it lazily goes back to bed by 3pm. Temperatures are dropping down to 1'C, and the first snow fell this morning.
But the thing is - I kinda love this time of year in London. It's festively alight with fairy lights and glitter, and the whole world looks like you're viewing it through a bokeh filter on a camera.
See what I mean? (The pic, above, is by Axel Bührmann and seems very fitting for this time of year!).
And what's more christmassy than gingerbread and egg nog, minus the egg nog (ew)?
As you can see, I'm still very much in the wedding swing of things. I can't resist adding an iced heart to the batch when baking cookies!
These came about when shopping for Christmas gifts for our UK-based family. I needed something suitable for an arty 5-year old that would keep him busy with novelty value. Phew. So, after much deliberation, I chose a gingerbread making kit from Mason and Cash that comes with a lovely gingerbread cutter, a mini mixing bowl and a mini rolling pin and wooden spoon set.
And while I was there, I also noticed these. A family of gingerbread cutters! Those were for me. As it happens, I also got the little 'un a book called 'Dress Your Gingerbread' which looks like heaps of fun, and a selection of Dr Oetker cake decoration goodies.
I particularly like the back cover which features the Lion with the caption: 'Eat me! I'm Roarsome!' The recipe in the book makes 4 large biscuits which is more than enough for little hands, but I was after something spicy with extra ginger, so I used the recipe on the side of the Gingerbread Kit box (which just so happens to be this recipe, from the BBC). I didn't use a food processor - I used my hands, the old-fashioned way! - and I added in an extra sprinkling of ginger.
I wanted 'old fashioned' gingerbread decorations, so I gave the big ones stitched lines on their legs and arms, with giant Smarties buttons for the boys. The girls got aprons and dainty pink pearl buttons because they like to bake and look glamorous. The little ones were done much the same way, without the appendage detailing and with silver balls instead of Smarties for the boys.
... and hearts. I was so tempted to make one with a grumpy face, but nothing could dampen my festive baking glee. Okay - and, I was also tempted to add just one with a skeleton painted on instead of the normal cheery grin.
But that's not all. Oh no. If you call now, you also get - gingerbread cake. Egad, gingerbread in cake form? Fantastic.
It is a rich, sticky, treacle-y cake iced that needs to be nibbled on with a cup of tea or coffee. It reeks of Christmas with a combination of cinnamon and ginger that would make an excellent addition to a Starbucks Brew.
I used Nigella's recipe for Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing, doubled the amount of ginger and cinnamon (I was feeling festive) and grated orange zest into the cake batter. I also replaced the lemon in the icing with orange. I don't own a baking tray big enough for a cake this size so I used a glass Pyrex dish and learnt, through frantic Internet research before baking, that to compensate for the glass you should lower the cooking temperature by 25'C. It worked perfectly.
The gingerbread cake was delicious, although a bit heavy on the treacle which seemed to overpower the other tastes in the cake The (doubled) cinnamon and ginger combination came as an afterthought when tasting the cake but it still had a distinct gingerbread taste (and smell!) about it that rocked my kitchen. Yum.
Here's a link to the Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmas_gingerbread_84244
- very tasty biscuits. Don't overwork the dough, and do add in more spice!
Here's a link to Nigella's Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fresh-Gingerbread-with-Lemon-Icing-105095
- my version of the recipe, in How to be a Domestic Goddess uses golden syrup instead of corn syrup, so I'd use that.