Holiday Gingerbread

08 Dec 2011

I love gingerbread at this time of the year. Not the cookies. Not the houses. The kind of gingerbread which is more like a cake or a loaf. The kind of gingerbread that you slather deep and thick with homemade butter. Sweet, but not too sweet…more like a tea cake. In my producing days, a post production house in London once sent me a holiday gift of Grasmere gingerbread and the memory of that flavour still lingers on. In fact, it has persuaded me to bake at least one batch of gingerbread for the holidays each year here at the farm.

Since I was doing a charity butter-making demo last evening in Tipperary, I decided it would be festive to bake up some gingerbread to bring along to share with the audience. Once I had the honey-rum butter made, it could be lashed onto squares of gingerbread and passed around the audience. The response was overwhelming. The recipe requested. I was going to post about mince pies today, but they will have to politely wait their turn until next week.

In other news, I am crazy thrilled to announce the first of 3 holiday giveaways that I am doing on the blog this year. Weeee, I feel like Oprah! Giving is far superior than receiving at Christmas, such a wonderful feeling.

So, first up, with a million thanks to Pat Whelan, and following on in the spirit of celebrating Tipperary Food, is a FIRST CLASS BUTCHERY COURSE at James Whelan Butchers in Clonmel, County Tipperary on 21st of February at 6:30PM.  You will join myself and 10 other students to learn all about the meat, where it comes from, how and when it is used along with a range of hands-on butchery skills. James Whelan butchers are fully trained skillful professionals, well-versed in all aspects of cutting meat and the aging process. An in-depth insight into the techniques of cutting beef, lamb, pork and bacon will be covered on the evening.

During our summer in America, I was inspired by so many brilliant artisan butchery classes on offer around the USA that I really wished I could have participated in….now here’s my chance, and yours! Leave a comment below and I will be drawing a name next week.

My Holiday Gingerbread

350g/2 1/3 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

3-4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp allspice

8 globes preserved stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped

125g/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

100g/ 1/2 cup light muscovado sugar (brown sugar can substitute)

50g caster sugar

225g/ 3/4 cup golden syrup {there really is no substitute for this recipe}

1 organic egg, beaten

75ml/3 oz milk

Grease and line a loaf tin with non-stick baking paper. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320F)/fan140°C/gas 3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and allspice. Set aside. Chop 4 globes of the ginger and add to the flour mixture. Finely slice the remainder and set aside.

Melt the butter, sugar(s) and golden syrup in a small pan. Set aside to cool slightly (this should take about 15 minutes)

Beat the egg and milk together. Stir the cooled syrup into the dry ingredients, followed by the egg and milk and beat well. Spoon into the tin and arrange the remaining ginger overlapping on top. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours until just firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy warm with lashings of butter and a cup of tea, coffee or a big glass of cold milk.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell

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