GINGERBEAD – THE RECIPE

Just a few months ago I posted a blog titled “Gingerbread“.  In case you think I might be losing my mind, I’m not (hopefully), this blog is about making (and eating) Gingerbread.  If you want to know the origins of how this exotic spice became such an important part of the culture in Great Britain, please click on this link … GINGERBREAD.  It will give you all the background you’ve ever wanted to know about ginger and the making of this confection.  Meanwhile, I’m actually making my own moist, dense, rich ‘GINGERBREAD‘.

As always, before making any recipe, I go through all my cookbooks (of which I have more than I can count) as well as check all the internet foodie blogs to find the ‘best of the best’ recipes.  Some recipes were more like a light, fluffy spice cake with cream cheese frosting.  Not what I was looking for at all.  What I wanted was an old-fashioned, dense, rich cake-like bread.  It should be easily held in your hand, not requiring a plate.  It should be packed full of peppery ‘ginger’ flavor … not cinnamon, cloves or allspice.  It should be moist … not dry.  And, most of all, it should be delicious.

I’ve tried more recipes than I want to admit.  And culled from a few different recipes, here is MY favorite by far.  It is quite easy to make, but it’s not for the timid.  It’s for ginger lovers everywhere.  If you want more or less ginger, feel free to adjust the quantities.

GINGERBREAD
Bake at 350°  Makes one large round bundt pan, or two or more loaf pans.

3/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup cane syrup, or corn syrup or honey
1 cup packed dark brown sugar

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons ground ginger (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat milk
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

About an hour before you want to make the Gingerbread, combine the following ingredients in a saucepan:  Cubed butter, vegetable oil, water, molasses, brown sugar, golden syrup or honey.  Simmer over low heat until the butter is melted, the sugar has dissolved and everything is well combined.

Cool completely before adding this mixture to the dry ingredients.  It should be just warm to the touch.  If you want to cool this mixture quickly, set the pan into a bowl of ice water.

Preheat the oven to 350° and prepare your baking pans – a large round pan, or as many smaller pans as you’d like.  Grease well.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients:  flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, ground ginger and cinnamon.

In a separate, smaller bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, milk and grated ginger.

When the syrup mixture has cooled, add it slowly to the dry ingredients.  Blend well, but don’t beat.  Then add the egg/milk/ginger combination to the batter.  Again, be sure to  blend well, but be sure not to overbeat the batter.  Low speed on an electric mixer is fine.  You don’t want to build up the gluten.

Pour the batter into the greased pan(s) and bake.  Depending upon the pan size and shape, it could take between 45 and 60 minutes.  Check for doneness when a tester comes out clean.

Cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.  Then put on the kettle and don’t be afraid to dive in.  It freezes well if you want to wrap it tightly in foil.  Or it will keep nicely in the frig for a week, wrapped in cling film.

Dense, gingery and moist.  I love this Gingerbread warm with a dusting of powered sugar and a big mug of tea!   This is perfect for the holidays.  Keep one on hand ready to serve for anyone who drops by … or just make to enjoy all by yourself!!
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Treacle Pudding

Hubby wanted “treacle pudding”.  I know it’s available in some international markets sold under the U.K. brand of Heinz in tin cans, but I don’t want to open a can.  I want to make Treacle Pudding.  What I was not sure about was what exactly is “treacle”?  I looked in the grocery stores and couldn’t find it.  I asked family and friends.  They’ve never heard of it.  I checked all my cookbooks and there was no recipe either using it, or for it.  Even hubby wasn’t sure what it was or where you bought it. How am I going to make this classic English dessert if I don’t have any treacle?  Time to go online and do a little research.  Here’s what I learned . . .

When sugar cane is harvested, it is crushed to squeeze out the juice. That juice is then boiled down (very similar to making maple syrup).  Depending upon how many times, and for how long the juice is boiled, will produce the depth of color and flavor of the syrup. The syrup can range from a light golden color and flavor, to a medium amber color with deeper flavor to a very dark, thick syrup with almost sweet bitter flavor.  The first boiling produces golden syrup or light treacle, similar to honey in color.  The second boiling produces treacle, which we call molasses. The third boiling produces ‘dark treacle’ which we call blackstrap molasses.

Lyle's Golden Syrup

Lyle’s Golden Syrup

“Golden Syrup” is produced by the Abram Lyle & Sons company and sold everywhere in the U.K.  In the U.S., however, it did take a bit of hunting, but I found it.  I also found out it is available through Amazon, but, honestly, who wants to wait for a UPS delivery before making dessert.

Now to find a ‘good’ recipe for Treacle Pudding.  After looking through all my English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh cookbooks, I found ONE recipe.  Thank you Paul Hollywood!  But why, if this dessert is so popular can’t I find more than one recipe?  It seems this dessert isn’t as popular as hubby had thought. More research has shown that it’s a regional favorite, only popular in northern England and Scotland.  Okay, back to the “world wide web”.

Recipes appear to be either the very same, copied from website to website, or completely hard-to-understand.  What exactly is a 900ml pudding basin?  And do I really want to use suet?  Or a splash of brandy?  No, I don’t think so.  This is suppose to be a nostalgic, humble steamed pudding made from flour, eggs, butter and this sweetener they call “treacle”.

My first attempt was a simple recipe from the BBC FOOD website, very similar to Paul Hollywood‘s.  Quite basic.  Nothing I couldn’t handle.  Throw everything in a bowl, mix and steam for 1-1/2 hours.  But when I unmolded it, the whole pudding fell into a big, soggy heap. Undercooked and cloyingly sweet.  Back to the “world wide web”.

My second attempt was just a little more complicated, beat the butter and sugar til fluffy and add eggs one at a time.  The ingredients were just about the same.  Steamed for 1-1/2 hours, and when I unmolded it, it looked fabulous.  But, it was very dry and not very sweet at all.  Okay, let’s try once more.

Here’s the one we liked . . .

TREACLE PUDDING
Serves 4 to 6
4 tablespoons golden syrup (light treacle)
1 stick butter, softened (plus more for greasing)
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses (treacle)
3 large eggs, room temperature
grated lemon peel

 First get a very large pot with tightly fitting cover.  Put a saucer, ramekin or something in the bottom of the pot so that the bowl you are going to steam your pudding in doesn’t sit directly on the bottom of the pot.  Fill the pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.

While the water comes to temperature generously grease a large bowl, 4 cups or more, in which your pudding will cook.

 Pour the Golden Syrup into the bottom of the bowl.  Mix together the dry ingredients.  In a mixing bowl beat the softened butter with the sugars and molasses (treacle) til light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well.  Add the dry ingredients and grated lemon peel and blend til well combined.


The batter should be like thick pancake batter.  If it’s too thick, add a bit of milk to loosen.  Pour the batter into the bowl. Take a piece of aluminum foil and wrap it tightly around the bowl.  This needs to be sealed tight so that the moisture doesn’t get in when boiling.

 Place the bowl into the pot, setting on top of the saucer or ramekin.  I used a steamer basket, which worked beautifully.  Make sure the water comes up to the middle of your pudding bowl. Cover the pot and steam for about 1-1/2 hours.  The water should be a soft boil.  If the water isn’t hot enough, the pudding won’t cook.  Check the water level every now and then.  You don’t want the water to boil away.

After 1-1/2 hours your pudding should be done.  Carefully remove the bowl and lift the foil.  With a cake tester, puncture the the pudding to see if it is ready.  If the tester comes out clean and dry, the pudding is ready.

Carefully run the tip of a knife around the top of the pudding, then place a plate on top of the bowl and invert. Pour a bit more Golden Syrup around the top of the pudding and serve warm. Traditionally this dessert is served with custard, but we like vanilla ice cream with ours.

 Sticky, sweet and gooey, everyone will love this humble, old fashioned dessert.

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References:  Lyle’s Golden Syrup, Wikipedia, BBC Food