gingerbread was made for a church event entitled 'Teddy Bear Parachute Jumping Contest'. Don't ask: Church of Ireland people have these vagueries.
And no: it isn't chocolate, this is traditional treacle gingerbread. Usually baked in loaf form as a tea bread, this sticky sweet treat is very heavy going and best enjoyed in small doses, due to its rich, dense texture and its almost palette-abusing amount of spices. Of course, the spiciness can be adjusted to taste, but this is a recipe I have altered over time to yield an intense taste experience. I like to eat this spread with real butter with a nice cuppa shcald, but you can enjoy this like a cake if you prefer; I actually made this in traybake form for the church event, not in loaf form.
I also like to have a sticky glaze on my gingerbread, which calls upon an unusual ingredient: Coca-Cola. Before you say anything, don't knock it! Coca-Cola is flavoured with a unique blend of spices and herbal extracts, and its zingy flavour works well with the spiciness of the gingerbread.
The list of ingredients may seem daunting, but it's like literally any tea bread: mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix the wet ingredients in a bowl, then mix the wet into the dry. Only, the wet ingredients are mixed in a saucepan in this one and the eggs are added last.
This recipe is adapted from Tate and Lyle Refineries' book Sweet Success, published in 1977.
This makes one 8x4 inch (21x10 centimeter) loaf, or one 10 inch (25 centimeter) square cake
- 7 ounces (200 grammes) spelt flour
- 3 ounces (85 grammes) cornflour
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces (170 grammes) golden syrup
- 4 ounces (115 grammes) treacle
- 4 ounces (115 grammes) soft brown sugar
- 4 ounces (140 grammes) butter
- 1 ounce (30 grammes) root ginger, grated finely
- 1 ounce (30 grammes) crystalised ginger, cut finely
- 6 fluid ounces (170 milliliters) warm water
- 2 medium eggs
For the glaze:
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup, or stem ginger syrup if you can find it
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 2 fluid ounces hot water
- 2 fluid ounces Coca-Cola
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F, Gas Mk.3, or very moderate).
- Prepare your tin of choice by greasing and flouring, or lining with baking paper. I use silicone-greased paper, but waxed paper works just as well; greaseproof paper needs to be greased.
- Put all the wet ingredients, except the eggs, into a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar and butter have melted and it has formed an even mixture. Allow to cool enough for it not to scramble the eggs later.
- Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients from the saucepan. Mix together gently with a spatula, wooden spoon or balloon whisk.
- Add in the eggs and beat vigorously until well combined and smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. It's done when it's springy to the touch and a cocktail stick or skewer stuck into the thickest part comes out clean or with one or two crumbs stuck to it. About 5 minutes before it's due out of the oven, start preparing the glaze if you want to use it.
- To make the glaze, put all the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan and heat slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.
- Skewer the cake while it's still hot and pour on the glaze even over the surface. Return to the oven for another 2 minutes to set the glaze slightly.
- If you have glazed the cake, allow to cool completely in the tin before taking out and serving; if you haven't glazed it, you can take out of the tin when it is cool enough to handle and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
The texture of this bread is second to none, and it is sinfully moist. As nice as it is eaten while still warm from the oven, it's best to leave it overnight before cutting. This way, all the spices have time to breathe and release their flavours into the cake.