Sunday, November 29, 2009

kicked-up gingerbread

When I was going through Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Cook with Jamie, I came across a recipe for what he calls the “Ultimate Gingerbread”. He said that the when he was visiting Grasmere, in England’s Lake District he stopped into a shop that had the best gingerbread he’d ever eaten. He says that they use a secret recipe which is about 150 years old and, of course, they wouldn’t give the recipe to him. So he decided to have a go at it on his own. The result…it is probably some of the best gingerbread you’ll ever eat! The recipe calls for not only ground ginger but also crystallized ginger as well as some candied citrus peel. These additions give this unusual gingerbread a spicy-citrus kick that is tasty as a cookie, but also works pretty fine sprinkled over ice cream or even used as a cheesecake base.

His recipe also calls for golden syrup (an English export called Lyles), which amazingly I did find at a little gourmet shop in town. But if you cannot find golden syrup a mixture of 2 parts light corn syrup to 1 part molasses will do the trick.

So if you want to add a little something different into your baking plans this holiday, give this one a try.


Ultimate gingerbread
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Cook with Jamie

14 oz. store bought shortbread or homemade
6 oz. raw sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 cup mixed candied citrus peel, chopped
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
7 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
A pinch of baking powder
2 Tbsp. golden syrup
2 Tbsp. molasses
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 325°F and find a baking pan about 8x14 inches. Put the shortbread, sugar, and 2 teaspoons of the ground ginger in a food processor and whiz until you have crumbs. Remove 3 ½ oz. 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, molasses 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 pan and spread out evenly. Press the mixture down into the tray, using your fingers or something flat and clean like a potato masher or spatula. When the mix is a flat, dense even layer, pop the tray into 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 the potato masher or spatula. Carefully cut into good-sized pieces with a sharp knife, and leave to cool in the pan before eating.

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