Balance is important, right? So, given the mood of my Caregiving posts of late, I thought I’d share my recipe for gingerbread. This is a Juniper Clan favourite and Juniper Junior and I can often be found on the weekends, still in our pyjamas, making these scrumptious biscuits. They’re also great as very quick presents (start to finish I can get these done in half an hour, washing up included) and they’re excellent on the Hogswatch tree.
But already I fear I may be in Trans-Atlantic trouble. I consider this kind of gingerbread to be biscuits. Wikipedia however, leads me to believe that those on the other side of the pond would call these cookies.
First things first. Make sure the ingredients are in date. Out-of-date ingredients can really be prone to growing odd things.
Second of all, I believe there may be some measurement conversion needing done here. What I will say is that this is a very forgiving recipe, so small differences lost in the translation between metric to imperial shouldn’t be the end of the world. As such, I’ve not put exact conversions.
350g (12oz) self-raising flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 shoogle (approximately half a teaspoon) ground mixed spice
125g (4.5oz) butter
50ml (1/3 cup) Golden Syrup
125g (4.5oz) Muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A word or two more on the ingredients, I think.
Right, on the Golden Syrup front. I’m aware this may not be available everywhere. But never fear, Golden Syrup is just pale treacle. I will say, however, that it was only when doing a little research for this article that I realised that the lion on the front of the tin is in fact dead. Indeed, Wikipedia goes into detail on the subject:
The tin bears a picture of the rotting carcass of a lion with a swarm of bees, and the slogan “Out of the strong came forth sweetness.” This is a reference to the Biblical story in chapter 14 of the Book of Judges in which Samson was travelling to the land of the Philistines in search of a wife. During the journey he killed a lion, and when he passed the same spot on his return he noticed that a swarm of bees had formed a comb of honey in the carcass. Samson later turned this into a riddle at a wedding: “Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness.” While it is not known exactly why this image and slogan were chosen, Abram Lyle was a deeply religious man, and it has been suggested that they refer either to the strength of the Lyle company or the tins in which golden syrup is sold. In 1904 they were registered together as a trademark, and in 2006 Guinness World Records declared the mark to be Britain’s oldest brand. Lyle’s golden syrup was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1911.
With the ginger and mixed spice use as much or as little as you want. The basics are a couple of teaspoons of ginger and a shoogle of mixed spice, but when Juniper Junior is given the spice jars, it can be ever so slightly more. If anything, it’s a good excuse for trial and error. Try with just a little to begin with and play around with quantities in the future. Indeed, add other spices! Oh, and on the mixed spice front, the combination I use is: cassia, coriander seed, caraway, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
Vanilla extract is something I adore in baking. It adds a creaminess and a smoothness. It’s also helpful in balancing out the ten tonnes of spices that your pre-schooler has thrown into the mix.
Dark Muscovado sugar is something I’ve always used in this recipe but I suspect any dark sugar would work. It’s sticky and gorgeous, and well, I’ve got a bit of a thing for this sugar. It can be ace in certain cake recipes, too.
Butter. Dear goodness. We are all familiar with the concept of butter, aren’t we? I’ll admit, I use margarine (usually vegan) in daily life and baking but I have yet to try anything but butter with this recipe.
Putting it all together
Okay, another possible Trans-Atlantic hurdle. I pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius, a quick search tells me this is 338 degrees Fahrenheit. For those interested, this would also happen to be 443.15 Kelvin.
Next it’s time to mix the flour and the spices together. I don’t sieve flour, but if you want to, then go for it.
Now, into a saucepan put the: butter, syrup, sugar and vanilla extract. Over a medium heat, let these melt into one big gloopy mess. You might need to stir it once or twice, to help it melt and combine. The mixture doesn’t need to boil, but be careful, because the gloopy-ness can happen quickly.
Once gloopy-ness has been achieved, it’s time to pour the gloopy mix into the bowl with the flour and spices. Word of advice: once gloopy-ness is in bowl with flour and spices, stick the pan straight into a basin of water. It makes washing up much quicker. Now it’s simply a case of mixing everything together. Grab a spoon and stir.
The dough cools down within a minute or two, and so is safe to handle. There are different ways to shape the dough. Cookie cutters can be a lot of fun, but do take longer. What I do these days is to simply take a small ball of dough, roll it in the palms of my hands and then put it down onto greaseproof paper. Ah, a mention of trays? I use four 27 x 17cm trays for this amount of dough and get around seven or eight biscuits on each tray.
Time to cook
Cooking time is one part of this recipe which is not particularly forgiving. A lot of baking with an oven can involve flexible times: an extra five minutes isn’t going to be the end of the world. With this gingerbread, extra cooking time of even a couple of minutes will mean they end up being harder. I pop these in the oven for ten minutes. And I very much keep an eye on the clock. Any longer and they simply aren’t as soft and scrumptious as they might otherwise be. However, there is an exception to this: Hogswatch. If you’re making these as decorations, then cook them for closer to fifteen minutes. Once they’re cooked, it’s generally advisable to let them cool, whether on racks, or just by stacking the trays up on top of each other.
However, I often find Juniper Junior back in the kitchen about two minutes after the gingerbread has come out of the oven. They’re delicious warm, but just as delicious once they’ve cooled down.
Which leaves me with just one more thing to say: enjoy!
12 replies on “Juniper’s Gingerbread”
I love love love Golden Syrup! When we lived in Ghana, that was what we put on our pancakes. Delicious!
Golden Syrup is MAGNIFICENT and it’s the only sensible thing to put on pancakes, silly Colonials. Although I think maple syrup is a really close analogue of Golden Syrup (I can’t really tell the difference).
This looks AMAZING. I also love that you cook as a family, that’s awesome =D (random but whatever).
We have it in Canada, the brand is Rogers Golden Syrup and it’s also a pure cane syrup. I wouldn’t use maple in its place in a recipe, because Â maple is a lot thinner/less viscous (and crazy expensive, even here). Both are super tasty (we used to get Rogers Golden Syrup atÂ ChristmastimeÂ for our pancakes).
Not to mention if you have the real maple syrup, and not the maple flavored sugar syurp, maple syrup has a flavor that cane syrup does not. Now perhaps I am a spoiled child, having grown up with a grandfather that made his own maple syrup, but to me the maple taste in maple syrup would make it bad for baking anything that you did not want to taste like maple. But then, we don’t really have golden syrup here in the states, nor light treacle from what I can tell. We haveÂ molassesÂ and corn syrup, neither of which are acceptableÂ substitutesÂ accordingÂ to google. (Edit: Here being ‘Murrica)
Of course the downside to having a grandfather who makes his own maple syrup is that you end up eating a lot of it, and now the only thing I really put it on is sausage.
Ooh, one of the students I taught last year had sugar maples on her farm and her family was super into making maple syrup. I sort of love maple syrup, but I can see that if you had it ALL THE TIME it would get overwhelming.
Maple syrup probably tastes different here, like baked beans (THEY’RE SO SWEET IN NORTH AMERICA AAA)
And the sliced bread? Eugh.
But we put bacon in baked beans here, which I find to be aÂ distinctÂ improvement.
You can’t tell the difference between Golden Syrup and Maple Syrup? Our relationship may be in trouble.
bless you for spelling pj’s with a y and including more than one reference to Hogswatch decorations.Â i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, i feel i was born in the wrong country and would like to speak to management and lodge a formal complaint.
That brand story is weird in Â a cool way or just ‘let’s put a carcass on a sticker’ weird.