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ON GINGERBREAD

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The gingerbread in question is a recipe I’ve grown up with. It came from my mother’s huge Good Housekeeping book, which dated from at least the 1940s, and with its gold embossed letters and hard black binding, had the look of book of spells.

My mother always baked it as it was, faithfully wrapping it in greaseproof paper and foil and storing it for 3-4 days so it developed its flavours. I have tried to do this, but I have no chance. It is so fragrant that my scheme to keep it secret for a few days is always rumbled, and by the time 3-4 days have passed, the gingerbread, too, is no more.

So here it is in all its old fashioned glory, with the addition of some mixed spice, raisins and crystallised ginger being the only changes to the original.

Ilb plain flour

3 heaped tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

3 heaped tsp ground ginger

1 heaped tsp mixed spice

4oz raisins or sultanas

2oz crystallised ginger, in small pieces

 

6oz butter

8oz Demerara sugar

6oz black treacle

6oz golden syrup

 

1/2pt full fat milk

I large egg

 

Line a deep 8” square tin with baking parchment. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.

 

Into a large mixing bowl, sieve all the dry ingredients, mix well together and stir in the raisins and crystallised ginger. In a jug, beat the egg into the milk and put to one side.

Put the butter and sugar in a small saucepan. Weighing syrup and treacle is a messy business, but I’ve found the simplest and cleanest way is to weigh the tin, subtract the required weight in your head, then spoon it out until the scales balance to the reduced weight.

 

Add the golden syrup and black treacle to the butter and Demerara sugar in the pan and melt together over a low heat, stirring gently until the butter has just melted. Don’t rush this part – if you let it boil, the sugars will begin to caramelise, and if it burns, you’ll have to sling it and start again.

 

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter and sugars. Add the egg and milk and beat thoroughly together.

 

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about an hour, until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean, and the top is springy. Lift onto a wire rack, still in the baking parchment, and cool. Wrap in foil and keep for 3-4 days – well, it’s always worth a try – before cutting into generous squares.

 

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