STICKY GINGERBREAD…bring on The Season!

Moving to Doha automatically means that December comes with a rather staid, its-another-ordinary-month sort of feeling. True, I escape the ‘seasonal’ songs that radio stations and shops in the U.K are compelled to torment us with year upon year. However, the lights, the huge decorated tree in the village square, the cold wind and the warm fires, the family and friends get-togethers and perhaps a flurry of snow (or downright snowstorms like the last couple of winters) are things I miss. I have gotten used to it over the last six years in Aberdeen and did embrace it completely. Somehow, a bright sky and T-shirt weather doesn’t sit quite right when wrapping up gifts with snowflake motive papers.

Now this, the aroma of ginger, cloves and cinnamon wafting through the house, is when I feel like Christmas is round the corner. It is the first thing I bake, even before the Christmas cake, and one bite of the squidgy, aromatic, treacle flavoured, soft slice is enough to banish any lazy, procrastinating thoughts from my mind. I get immersed into seasonal baking, start looking out for cranberries, dust off my christmas cookie cutters and plan my hampers. Tis the season to be grateful… and fat. Gingerbread is only a recent discovery, since no one I know bakes it. My first taste was in a self-service cafe attached to a local garden centre. It wasn’t bad but it didn’t rock my christmas tree either.

I got Nigella’s Christmas book the year we were to host the dinner. I saw her programme and bought the book the same night and I can tell you, it’s fantastic. She even had a timetable in there for the big day, which is what I amended for my own menu and it was a lifesaver. I believe everything was thought of in this book; at least, for me, I didn’t have to look anywhere else. And in it, was a recipe for Sticky Gingerbread.

I baked it, served it for coffee one morning, to two of my loveliest girlfriends, Jenny and Lisa, who have been my baking tasters / guinea pigs, on many an occassion. Their reaction was enough to tell me, that this was a good ‘un. “Soooooooo stickyyyyy!!!!”, they mumbled through puffed and stuffed cheeks. I have been making it ever since, and it is a regular in my Christmas hamper. I do feel a pang, that this year I can’t get a basket out to them. Then again, they can bake these themselves!

Did I mention that its really easy too? You melt butter, sugar along with spices to a thick, tar coloured liquid and add the milk and extras to it. You then pour this now coffee coloured liquid to your flour and beat till combined. Now, I kind of work it differently. By adding the entire wet ingredients into the flour, I get wee, stubborn flour lumps. So I tried doing it the way I make a basic roux, and that is, to beat about a third of the treacle liquid into the flour at a time which ensures that I get a smooth batter. It worked a treat. I was worried I might toughen up the glutens, but it is so liquid and the mixing quite gentle that it wasn’t an issue at all and I completely avoided the dreaded floaty, flour lumps. If you can’t be bothered, really, its no big deal, and a heap if icing sugar on the top covers it anyway.

I also bake these in small, loaf tins and one batch of this batter makes for around five wee loaf tins, around 14 x 5 x 5 cms and they take around 35-40 minutes to cook. It’s the perfect size for giving away. If you like, you can add a sharply contrasting, thick white glaze of lemon juice and icing sugar. I quite like it unadorned. Either way, in any shape, this is a win-win recipe. And the perfect start to the season.

Of course, gingerbread is not what Christmas is about. It’s a day of celebration, of hope, life and of love. I am deeply grateful for it. And in edible form, gingerbread is a great way to start celebrating!

Sticky Gingerbread

From Nigella’s Christmas by Nigella Lawson

Ingredients (Makes 20 squares)
150g butter
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle or molasses
125g dark muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm water
250 ml room temperature milk
2 eggs, beaten to mix
300g plain flour

Preheat your oven to 170deg and line a roasting tin or ovenproof dish (approx 30 x 20 x 5 cm) with baking parchment or foil (greased the foil). In a saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar, syrup, treacle, both gingers, cinnamon and cloves over a lowish heat. Once melted, take it off the heat, add milk, eggs and soda in its water.

Measure the flour into a large bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients in stages or gradually, beating until well mixed. This is a very liquid batter so do not be alarmed!

Pour this heady scented batter into your tin and bake for anywhere from 45-60 minutes. It should be risen and firm on top. Try not to overcook it as you want it sticky and it will carry on cooking while its cooling down. Place the tin on a wire rack and let it cool in it before cutting into squares.

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23 thoughts on “STICKY GINGERBREAD…bring on The Season!

  1. Liz Headon

    As I commented on Emma’s photo on Facebook, you only have to look at the ingredients to know that gingerbread is going to tatse good. And then there’s the smell…

  2. Karen

    Looks delish, as always Carrie. Always love your posts. I’ve never fancied going on a sun holiday at Christmas because somehow the cold winter weather seems to fit with the festive season doesn’t it? Will you still have a tree? And you could always get Brad to gift you a snow machine, just to remind you of your Aberdeen days….lol. By the way, have you tried the Guinness gingerbread from Kitchen?I made it tonight and it is to die for!

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Haha oh Karen, am just imagining the look on the man’s face if I said I wanted a snow machine for Christmas!! I haven’t made the guinness one yet actually, must try that too. But of course I would have to make an alcohol free one for the kids too! What a hardship!

  3. Thanh @ eat, little bird

    Oh I love this recipe!! I’ve made it several years in a row and always look forward to it. The only thing is treacle can be a bit tricky to get hold of where I live so I’ve had to experiment with other recipes. But rest assured, I lugged back several tins of treacle when we were in Wales not long ago with only this recipe in mind, so I should now be properly stocked until next year 🙂

    1. thePatternedPlate

      This recipe is worth lugging back tins of treacle for, without question!! Everyone at home loves it which kind of surprises me as the flavour is quite strong. My kids adore it and love licking the sticky bits off their fingertips…wet wipes at the ready :-))

  4. Jacqui

    youve pretty much inspired me to make this today! Ive wanted to for a while, as I saw Nigellas episode a few times in the last couple of months but now I have the recipe in front of me and I have no excuse! It looks faaaaab!!

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  8. hashtagcake

    I totally get what you mean about finding it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit living in the sunny Middle East while the UK is cold and wintery.The gingerbread looks fabulously festive though! Definitely going to give this a go!

    1. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

      Ah I see you are a Dubai lass! So yes you will definitely understand my dilemma! Though I have to say Dubai probably has more of a Christmassy feel than Doha does. Still gingerbread solves most problems and this Nigella recipe is a cracker (ho! Ho!) Hope you like it 😀

      1. hashtagcake

        Yes – probably. Dubai is becoming more and more Christmassy every year. It has no choice really with the number of expats living here! Anyhoo – yes…I have no doubt in my mind the gingerbread has the power to boost anyone’s christmas spirirt…not that I, myself, am lacking it. I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂

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