Those who, like me, love ginger, really love it. But those who are lukewarm about it still love sweet treats made with ginger. I know this because that is how my husband Godfrey feels.
A really good gingerbread or cake should have a sludgy texture and be filled with juicy sultanas and chopped stem ginger. There are plenty flavours that greatly complement ginger in cakes, biscuits or puddings – for example orange and lemon, cloves and nutmeg, and dark brown sugar. Or, for a special treat, try some molasses sugar.
Another spice that tends to be overlooked in sweet recipes, but which also belongs with ginger, is black pepper. You will see that in my gingerbread recipe I include marmalade. I have done this for many years now, spurred on because marmalade is so good spread on gingerbread that I thought it might as well be an ingredient for the gingerbread itself. This is one of the recipes I demonstrated for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington two or three years ago, when I was doing a Scottish culinary session of cookery demonstrations at their invitation.
Any gingerbread, pudding or biscuit is warming, by the very nature of the ginger, therefore perfect for winter eating – real comfort food.
1/2 pint/285ml milk
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
8oz/225g soft dark brown sugar
12oz/335g plain flour
1 rounded tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon
2 large eggs
6-8 pieces preserved ginger, chopped
Butter the cake or loaf tin and line the base with a disc of bakewell paper (siliconised greaseproof paper) if it's a round tin, or line the narrow ends and the base of a loaf tin.
Warm the milk and bicarbonate of soda together and set aside. Melt the butter, marmalade and soft dark brown sugar. Sieve the flour, ginger and cinnamon and blend with the melted butter mixture and the beaten eggs, mixing well. Add the warm milk and bicarbonate of soda, beating all really well together. Mix in the raisins and chopped ginger and put the lot into the prepared tin. Bake in a gentle oven 160C/310F/Gas Mark 21/2/ bottom right oven of a four-door Aga for 11/2 hours. Cool in the tin.
BAKED GINGERBREAD AND BLACK PEPPER PUDDING
4oz/110g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of ground cloves
a grating of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4oz/110g soft light brown sugar
1 large egg
3oz/85g black treacle
5 fl oz/140ml milk
2oz/55g butter, melted
grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
6 pieces preserved stem ginger, drained and chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Sieve the flour and the dry ingredients into a bowl, then add the egg, treacle, milk, melted butter, orange zest and black pepper. Mix thoroughly, then stir in the chopped ginger and raisins. Pour the gingerbread mixture into a well-buttered ovenproof dish. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes and serve warm with vanilla custard or crme frache.
These crisp biscuits are very simple to make and very good to eat.
6oz/170g chilled butter, cut in pieces
6oz/170g caster sugar
6oz/170g self-raising flour
2 rounded teaspoons ground ginger
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz till the mixture forms a ball. Take walnut-sized lumps of dough and roll each into a small ball. Put them on a baking tray, and with the palm of your hand flatten each slightly. Bake in a low oven – 130C/250F/Gas Mark 1/top left oven in a four-door Aga for 11/2 hours.
The biscuits should lift easily off the tray with a palette knife. Cool and store in an airtight container.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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