This entry provides the essentials for a traditional, tasty gingerbread, guaranteed to warm you even on the coldest days! The strength of this recipe is that it is infinitely variable, and can make do with whatever might be in your baking cupboard at short notice.
This is just the outline ingredients - for details and variations, see below.
- 100 grams butter or margarine
- 225 grams sifted plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 100 grams Black Treacle
- 100 grams Golden Syrup
- 50 grams Brown sugar
- 2 heaped teaspoons ginger
- 1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
- 200 grams mixed fruit
- 150ml alcohol
Between one and 24 hours in advance: place the alcohol in a glass or earthenware jug or narrow bowl. Add the fruit (it should just come to below the top of the alcohol) and leave to steep for as long as possible.
Heat the oven to Gas Mark 2/300°F/150°C. Take a shallow tin approximately 20cm/8" square and line with foil.
Melt the butter in a large pan over a very low heat then add the sugar. Stir gently until all the granulated sugar is completely dissolved (try pressing a wooden spoon to the bottom of the pan and listening for a crunch). Remove from the heat.
Add the bicarbonate of soda to the fruit/alcohol mix then add this mixture to the pan.
Gradually add the flour and spices, and then the beaten eggs. The resulting batter should be of a thick pouring consistency.
Pour the mix into the tin and bake for one hour until firm and well risen. To ensure the gingerbread is baked, push in a skewer and make sure that it comes out clean.
Allow to cool before removing from the tin foil.
Try this warm, topped with cream, or cold as a sliced cake.
Any spirits, liqueurs or fortified wines can be used to make up the alcohol. A combination of drinks works just as well as a single variety, making this a useful recipe for finishing up all those strange and crusty bottles at the back of the drinks cupboard. Even blue-coloured cocktail liqueurs work fine, and the colour disappears in cooking. This Researcher favours a blend of sherry, brandy, port and ginger wine.
If alcohol is not your thing, then pure orange juice is a great alternative.
Black Treacle and Golden Syrup are two old-fashioned, distinctively British products. If they are not available, try a thick pouring syrup, and perhaps some molasses. Using just granulated sugar (replacing the syrup/treacle with the equivalent weight of sugar) will also work, but do ensure the heat is low and the sugar thoroughly melted. A double helping either Golden Syrup or Black Treacle is also fine, should the other be unavailable.
Choose your own preferred combination of currants, raisins, sultanas, glacé cherries (chopped, or left whole to soak up the booze), cut mixed peel, chopped dried fruits, etc. A little chopped fresh apple or pineapple is also good.
This is gingerbread, so two teaspoons of the spice must be ginger. You could also make the third teaspoon ginger as well, or try your own combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.