How much do you want to marry me? Yeah, I know, not much. I sing very loudly and probably off-key in the car, I neglect this blog (and YOU!) and I'll probably put my freezing-cold, actually-blue toes on you to steal your heat. You probably shouldn't want to marry me. We're all wrong for each other.
But. Gingerbread. Once, a few years ago, I went to the Lake District. It was pretty and pastoral and I walked through fields filled with sheep and was only a teensy bit scared of them, and I hiked over hills and around lakes, and I ate my very first meat pie with chips and mushy peas (I do NOT like mushy peas, for the record), and I visited the little village of Grasmere, which is home to a number of famous things, most notably Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth lived. But really, far more exciting than Dove Cottage (and I DO enjoy Wordsworth) is Sarah Nelson's gingerbread shop. (Wordsworth loved Sarah Nelson's gingerbread. TIL.)
Irene, what is wrong with you? You are off on some mad tangent about gingerbread and lakes and Wordsworth and none of this has anything to do with marrying you, which doesn't really make sense as an intro anyway. Have you joined some sort of weird cult? Have you finally overdosed on pain medication? Seriously. You're frightening us.
You guys are IMPATIENT. Oh wait, you're still reading, and I've not posted in… err… you guys are great. GREAT! Now, back to gingerbread. Sarah Nelson is a bit proprietary with her recipe. Perhaps that's because she's long dead. But, Jamie Oliver and a few other people have taken a few kicks at the recreating the recipe, and well…
I CAN MAKE YOU GINGERBREAD THAT WILL MAKE YOU WEEP WITH JOY.
None of this hard, molasses-y stuff that you make houses covered with candy that no one is ever going to eat sort of gingerbread. That is a travesty of gingerbread and frankly, a waste of candy. This is the most British of British gingerbreads, containing Scottish shortbread AND golden syrup AND treacle. Yes!!!
I'm going to type out the recipe here, and you are going to make it, and then you're going to fall madly in love with me and want to marry me, blue toes and bad singing and all. You can't actually marry me, I'm sorry, but you'll have the gingerbread to console yourself with.
175 g of unsalted butter
90 g of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
270 g of all purpose flour
170 g of coarse demerara sugar
3 level teaspoons of ground ginger
40 g of mixed citrus peel, chopped
40 g of crystallized ginger, chopped
70 g all purpose flour
1 pinch of baking powder
40 g of golden syrup
40 g of black treacle
70 g unsalted butter
For the Shortbread:
Cream the butter in a stand mixer until it is pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix for a further five minutes. Add the vanilla and the flour, mixing slowly. Turn the mixture out on to the work top and form into a round, about 5cm thick. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to one hour.
Preheat the oven to 340ºF. On a floured worktop, roll out the dough to ¾ centimetre thickness. Cut into relatively evenly-sized pieces. (Exact shape is not important, as you will crumble almost all of this into the gingerbread mixture.) Lift each piece with a spatula or palette knife and place on the baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
Bake for about 15 minutes until pale brown. Cool on the sheet for about 15 minutes then place on a rack to cool.
For the Gingerbread:
Preheat the oven to 325ºF and find a baking tray about 20x35cm. Put the shortbread, sugar and 2 teaspoons of the ground ginger in a food processor and whiz until you have crumbs. Remove 100g of the mix and keep this to one side. Add the remaining teaspoon of ginger to the processor, along with the mixed peel, crystallized ginger, flour and baking powder, and pulse until well mixed.
Melt the syrup, treacle and butter together in a saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients. When melted, add the mixture from the food processor and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is thoroughly mixed together. Tip into the baking tray and spread out evenly. Press the mixture down into the tray, using your fingers or something flat and clean like a potato masher or a spatula. When the mix is a flat, dense and even layer, pop the tray in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Take the tray out of the oven and sprinkle the hot gingerbread with the reserved crumbs, pressing them down really well with a potato masher or spatula. Carefully cut into good-sized pieces with a sharp knife, and leave to cool in the tray before eating.
(Yes, I have copied Jamie Oliver's instructions and just added the part on how to make the shortbread, but I am still bringing this to you. You didn't have this recipe before, did you? Anyway, you can't marry Jamie Oliver either, I'm pretty sure he's married. Go eat your gingerbread.)