G is for Gingerbread

Gingerbread has to be one of my favourite cakes.  It lasts well if kept in an airtight container and it also freezes nicely which is great if the whole thing is a bit too much for you to eat in a week.  I've often wondered why it's called Gingerbread given it's clearly not bread and why it can also refer to the biscuit variety that we commonly associate with Gingerbread Men.

Wikipedia comes in so handy for conundrums such as this one.  Originally, the term Gingerbread actually referred to preserved ginger and then later to describe confection made with honey and spices.  It seems that the term has since been used broadly as a reference to cakes made with spices and treacle (or golden syrup).  Around the world there are lots of slightly different variations on Gingerbread.  The original Gingerbread recipe dates back to 992 when an Armenian monk introduced it to Europe so it's no surprise that Gingerbread can come in slightly different forms around the world.
My recipe for Gingerbread comes from the trusty New Zealand Edmonds Cookery Book (page 48 to be precise!).  It's a really good recipe and the Gingerbread is light in texture.  Although it says to bake the Gingerbread in a 20cm square cake tin, I often bake it in a loaf tin instead.
125 grams softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup golden syrup
1 egg
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water
What to do... 
  1. Heat your oven to 180C.  I opted for fan bake at 180C but reduced the heat after 50 mins to 160C.  Just keep an eye on the top of the Gingerbread as it will brown up quickly - reduce the heat towards the end if you are worried about the top burning.
  2. Prepare either a 20cm square cake tin or you can use a loaf tin.  If using a loaf tin the Gingerbread will need closer to the 60 mins to cook through (and maybe slightly longer).  Spray some cooking spray in the tin before lining neatly with baking paper. 
  3. Using an electric free standing mixer or hand held, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy.
  4. Warm golden syrup in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until runny.  Beat into creamed mixture.
  5. Add egg & beat well.
  6. Sift dry ingredients together & then stir into creamed mixture alternatively with water.  I found that there were a few lumps in the mixture towards the end so just be careful to add small amounts of dry mixture at a time (a couple of tablespoons) in between adding the water and mix well each time.  Using a flat spatula to press the mixture against the side of the bowl is a good way to smooth out any lumps in the mixture.
  7. Pour mixture into your cake or loaf tin & place in oven for around 45 to 60 minutes or until a skewer or knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Leave in tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
Gingerbread is best enjoyed while it's still slightly warm from the oven - with a nice cuppa as well of course! 


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