I had three teenage girls in my kitchen this week-end, exchanging geeky (chemistry!) jokes and spilling laughter and edible glitter all around the place! They used our recipe from last year and wanted to build a gingerbread house, but being ambitious and competitive young things, they decided on Big Ben as a template! So here it is: Big Ben in gingerbread and sweets.
This will make a fantastic Christmas centre piece and is now displayed in prime position in our house…
We also baked and decorated lots of gingerbread shapes to give as presents in hampers and boxes. Same recipe just shorter baking time. Because the recipe has masses of honey and spices, those are really delicious as well as decorative and none of us seem to get enough of them at tea-time… They make great dunkers!
Well done girls! I am very proud of you and you are very welcome to come back next year! Buckingham palace this time?!
Valentine’s day is a day to put teenage gloom or adult cynicism on hold and celebrate LOVE! Actually, it is always essential to stop and celebrate LIFE, LOVE and the here and now… When I was younger, I despised the whole idea and pretended not to care for cards… I hardly thought an annual day for love was on anybody’s agenda but the chocolate makers.
But maybe, just maybe, Valentine’s day is not so corny after all : Is it not just about WHAT and WHO makes us happy? Is celebrating happiness not a serious and important matter?! So I’ll give a short vacation to my sense of taste and my sense of ridicule, and I’ll embrace the day as a small romantic window to enjoy. I have booked lunch at a very plush starred restaurant and I’ll be giving an edible card to my Valentine. Never neglect to celebrate the good bits, will be my new motto. I might even throw in a heart themed breakfast with the lovely edible flowers I bought at Borough market on saturday…
So here is my “Idea of the month”, none less.
- Self-raising flour 425g- I used chesnut flour for one third and the result was light and spicy but I had to add 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.
- Pinch of salt
- All spices (or 4 Spices) 1 Tbsp
- Cinnamon 1 tsp
- Mace 1 tsp
- Ginger 1 tsp
- Cardamom, 2 pods crushed
- Honey 170 g
- Soft brown sugar 375 g
- Butter 115 g
- lemon zest, 1
- 1 egg plus one yolk – keep the white for the royal icing later!
- 1 Tbsp of treacle- optional but nice
Heat the oven to 150°.
Mix all the dry ingredients into a big pot.
Melt the butter, honey, sugar and treacle on low heat. Let it cool first, then mix it in the dry mix and add the eggs and lemon zest. Beat well until you get a creamy base.
Reserve in the fridge for half hour. Don’t forget to line the baking trays. I use a reusable Silpat sheet on mine.
Spread the dough on your working surface and roll it down to 1 cm. Then with a sharp knife or shape cutters, cut out the heart or teddies shapes and transfer them onto your tray.
Bake for 30 minutes at 150°. The pieces will raise a little and take a nice brown colour. Don’t worry if they get a bit out of shape, you can always trim later.
Take some coloured or white edible paper and cut out similar shapes, then write little kind messages (or saucy ones) with an edible ink pen or a bit of food colouring on a thin paint brush. Either scatter them in an envelope of handmade paper as I did in the first picture or stick them with a bit of sugar paste at the back of you gingerbread hearts and teddies and then decorate the other side with sweets and icing! More is more- on this occasion.
Hanging hearts and my new kitchen hanging light!
>My late paternal grandmother, a talented sculptor and a true eccentric, used to love this cake and I only ever baked it for her… But this week, I baked it in memory of her!
This is a very dark, moist and light gingerbread with a spicy and earthy fragrance. I love it with a bit of dark honey and a cup of Tchai latte.
Brown sugar 200g
Treacle 2 or 3 tbsp (according to taste)
Self-raising flour 300g
Ginger 4 Tbsp
Cinnamon 3 Tbsp
Fresh crushed ginger 1 bite- if available
Eggs, 2 beaten
Bicarbonate of soda 2 tsp
In a small pan, warm the butter, sugar and treacle until all melts together. I like the strong liquorice taste of treacle so I put 3 generous tablespoonful into this cake but you can put less or more according to your own taste.
In a bowl, make a well with the flour then add the bicarbonate, the spices and melted syrup and the eggs in fine, just lightly whisked with a fork.
Add the buttermilk and mix well, turning and scraping at the sides. The buttermilk and baking soda make this a very light and airy batter but use whole milk if this is all you have. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 1 hour at 170℃. It will keep well in cling film and is best eaten the next day.
I was late for my Spanish conversation class last thursday and brought half the loaf with me to apologize to the group- Lesson number one: You should always bring cake when in trouble!