Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gingerbread




When the seasons change and it starts to get cold, I want baked goods! No more salads or iced tea, thank you. I have many favorite recipes, but since I’ve never (or hardly ever) met a baked good I didn’t like, I grabbed Mary Norwak’s 1966 “Home Baked Breads and Cakes” and found a delightful English gingerbread recipe to try. I often try recipes with whole wheat flour and try to make tasty baked goods that are remotely healthy, and this is made with oats – but it isn’t always the most important element. When it’s raining outside and you want something to sink your teeth in, it just has to taste good!

Ms. Norwak’s UK book is excellent because she gives three versions of each recipe: Imperial (UK), Metric (Europe) and American. Once upon a time I did acquire metric measuring cups, but I’m sticking to the US version that she was so kind to provide. I also used molasses, though UK bakers would call it treacle. Finally, I love the UK term for baking soda: bicarbonate of soda. In case you eat way too much of it, you can whip up a “bicarb” (water and baking soda – works as good as Tums).

I love this recipe for Parkin, an English gingerbread that is traditionally served on Nov 5th, Guy Fawkes Day (an annual UK celebration commemorating the fact that King James 1 was not assassinated in the 1600s) but if you want a more cake-like and refined gingerbread, try the second recipe listed, which is one my family has made since I was little. Either way you will have your fill of molasses and spice. A nice chunk of ether with a cup of coffee or hot tea on a cold day makes everything feel right in the world.



Parkin (English Gingerbread)



1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

3 cups rolled oats or 1 2/3 cups ground oatmeal

½ cup molasses or treacle

2/3 cup butter

½ cup soft brown sugar

2/3 cup milk

1 egg



Sift together the flour, salt, spices and soda. Add the oatmeal, and toss lightly to mix. Warm the treacle, butter, sugar and milk until the butter has melted. Cool slightly, add the egg and beat well. Pout into the centre of the dry ingredients and stir rapidly until smooth. Turn into a greased and lined 7-inch square tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour. This is the traditional cake to eat for Guy Fawkes celebrations, and should be stored in an airtight tin for a couple of weeks before using.





Gingerbread



½ cup butter or shortening

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

2 ½ cups sifted flour

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp salt

¾ cup molasses

1 cup hot water



Grease a 9” square baking pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening & sugar. Add egg; beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Combine molasses with water. Add alternately with four mixture to creamed mixture, mixing well. Pour into pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar or whipped cream.



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