Sunday, 15 December 2013

Notes on a Grubbies Christmas...Gingerbread, Christmas music and Grubbies Christmas countdown

Note 14: Gingerbread

Do you bake at Christmas?

Never mind mince pies and Christmas cake, it's the gingerbread and sugar cookies that the children in our house get most excited about at Christmas. Gingerbread men are one of our family's festive traditions. The children love eating them and I love how they fill the house fills with that spicy gingery, wintery smell. I have a recurring daydream that one year (one year) I will attempt a homemade (no kit) gingerbread house and invite over a crowd of nicely behaved and grateful children to help decorate it with smarties and jelly tots. 

But we're not in that league yet. In fact, this Note was intended to lament my annual battle to bake halfway acceptable gingerbread men. More than once, they have merged into one blob in the oven (one year I even resorted to re-cutting them after baking which was a bit desperate and predictably unsuccessful). More usually, they come out strangely bloated. And while puffiness isn't necessarily fatal for gingerbread men (you can always put a Santa hat on them), my dreamed-of cottage will presumably require a bit more consistency and structural integrity.

But, right on cue, this batch and came out of the oven looking perfectly golden and man-shaped and tasted like they smelled, spicy and syrupy perfection. It is then with more confidence that we can share our go-to family gingerbread recipe.*

You will need:

12oz (340g) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsps ground ginger (Or as much as the children will let you get away with. Buy a new one. The one left over from last Christmas won’t taste of anything no matter how much you pile in.)
4oz (112g) butter (We use unsalted but you could experiment if not for children.)
6oz (170g) light muscovado sugar
4 tbsps golden syrup (Try heating the spoon on the gas ring before plunging it into the pretty can. It makes a satisfying noise and syrup slips off easily.)
1 egg beaten


Pre-heat oven to 190c/Gas 5. Lightly grease baking tray(s) or line with baking parchment.

Mix flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar. Add the syrup and egg and mix until you get a dough. This can take a while, so don’t lose heart. Use your hands.

Roll them out on a floured surface not too thick and not too thin. As  a guide, the original recipe says 5mm. Put in the top of the oven and watch for them to turn golden brown (10-12 minutes).

* The recipe is originally from the fabulous Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book. Obviously there is nothing inconsistent or structurally unsound about the recipe (as opposed to the baker).

Note 15:  New Christmas soundtrack

I baked these gingerbread men wearing an Anthropolgie apron and listening to my favourite new Christmas album, which may have contributed to their success. The Grubbies office has spent much of December listening to the same soundtrack, A Very She and Him Christmas. She and Him is the collaboration between the folk artist M. Ward and the generally talented and beautiful Zooey Deschanel and their Christmas album is all sugary nostalgia and angelic voices.  Time "A Christmas Wish" for the bit when the tray goes in the oven and the house starts to fill with gingery promise.

Note 16: The Grubbies Christmas Countdown

Today marks the start of the Grubbies Christmas countdown. As a gift for all our twinkly customers, we are offering a discount on every shopping day until Christmas but don't think too long about it. The faster you shop, the more you save:

Monday, 16 December: Use discount code "Twinkle20" for 20% off your whole order and free UK delivery. Offer expires midnight Monday.

Tuesday, 17 December: Use discount code "Twinkle15" for 15% off your whole order and free UK deliveryOffer expires midnight Tuesday.

Wednesday, 18 December: Use discount code "Twinkle10" for 10% off your whole order and free UK delivery. Offer expires midnight Thursday, 19th.

Remember that Thursday 19th is the last shopping day for guaranteed Christmas delivery.

Merry Monday!

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