A square of light, sticky, gooey gingerbread. Dusted with icing sugar and to be eaten alongside a mug of coffee, preferably whilst relaxing on the sofa. That’s the dream.
I absolutely love gingerbread – the cake kind, the androgynous, non-gender-specific human-esque biscuits I’m ambivalent about – it’s simply delicious and one of my favourite winter bakes. It’s the provayer of warm winter wishes, it just lends itself to lazy Sunday afternoons spent in wooly jumpers. I haven’t made it in ages though, so when I was leafing through my cookbooks deciding on what Christmas bakes I might fancy I happened across a ragged bit of paper with this recipe written out on. Why I wrote it out is a bit perplexing – it comes from Nigella’s Christmas, a copy of which sits on my book shelf – but never the less I have done so.
The only reason I can give is because I’ve adapted the recipe, and presumably wanted to remember my changes. What could make gingerbread even more Christmas-y, I’ve seemingly once pondered, and true to form my conclusion has been to add in alcohol. Now I’ve taken out some of the milk and exchanged it for amaretto (a natural choice, I’m sure you agree) and added in orange zest for a fruity note.
Not only does this make the gingerbread even more delicious, it also makes it perfect for sharing – Christmas is a time for sharing, as the adverts keep reminding us (too cynical to interpret that as to share our cash with their tills?) – which is perfect for this time of year when people stop by all the time. And even if you don’t have people coming round I bet a square of this would be an excellent dessert with some toffee sauce; sadly I ate mine too quickly for this experiment.
Since I found this recipe on paper I’m going to enter it into this month’s Random Recipes challenge – hosted by Dom, of Belleau Kitchen fame – where the challenge was to make something found in that box of cuttings and notes that graces most of our kitchens. I love the idea of this and spent a very happy hour after baking with a square of the gingerbread, a mug of coffee and my recipe box, leafing through the random things I’ve collected. It’s also going to be my entry for Janine’s Baking with Spirit – this month’s theme is ‘warning’, which I feel this fits nicely into.
Orange & Amaretto Gingerbread
This is one of The Usual Saucepans’ Christmas Recipes – all of which can be found here – but it’s derived from a recipe in the wonderful Nigella’s Christmas. I made it in a aluminium roasting tray (use it a few times and then recycle, people!) for ease and simplicity. It makes about 20 ‘afternoon coffee and cake’ sizes, but you could make it for a party and cut into smaller squares (but take it out of the tray before cutting it, or you’ll struggle to get it out).
200g golden syrup
125g dark brown sugar
2 tsp fresh ginger
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 orange (zest and juice)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g plain flour
Icing sugar to dust
To begin with, preheat your oven to 170ºC and grease a 30×20 cm tray (I used a disposable/reusable aluminium roasting tray because it was the closest thing to the right dimensions as I could manage.
Start by making the liquid components – get a medium sized saucepan and put it on a medium heat on the hob. To the pan add your butter, sugar, golden syrup, treacle, and the fresh ginger. Heat the pan gently, allowing everything to melt slowly. Stir occasionally with a metal spoon.
Whilst that’s melting sift the dry ingredients into a bowl – that’s the plain flour and the ground spices – ensuring that there are no lumps, then gently combine. Zest the orange in on top of this.
Crack the eggs into a jug then whisk them together before adding the milk and the amaretto. Whisk until smooth.
One the syrup/butter mixture has melted, take it off the heat and add in the milk mixture (stirring constantly) and then finally the orange juice. Pout half into the dry ingredients and mix it in before adding the other half. The mixture will be very wet and runny, don’t worry, it’s meant to be.
Pour into your greased tray and put in the centre of the oven to bake. It should take between 45 and 55 minutes, depending on your oven.
Allow it to cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar and then slice. Serve with coffee or tea.