Home-made gingerbread is one of my favourite picnic foods.  It`s perfect for the holidays as it becomes more moist and gingery with age, provided you keep it well wrapped in foil.  For perfect results, check the sell-by date on your dried ginger, as this spice quickly loves its heat once exposed to air.

Serves 8

85g butter

85g black treacle

85g golden syrup

115g light muscavado sugar

85g (5 knobs) Chinese stem ginger (in syrup)

225g plain flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice

3 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons bicorbonate of soda

1/2 level teaspoon salt

1 medium egg, beaten

285ml milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.  Lightly oil a 900g loaf tin.  Cut out a rectangle of greaseproof paper to fit the base of the tin, line and lightly grease the paper.

Place the butter, treacle, syrup and sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted. Leave to cool slightly.

Sift the flour, spices, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a mixing bowl.  Rinse the ginger under the tap, pat dry and finely dice.  Mix into the flour.  Beat the egg with a fork before mixing in the milk.  Pour the gooey contents of the saucepan into the flour, followed by all the egg mix. Beat very vigorously with a wooden spoon for a few minutes.  Don`t worry if it seems too liquid - it`s fine.

Pour the runny mixture into the loaf tin and place in the centre of the oven.  After 20 minutes, loosely cover the gingerbread with foil and return to the oven.  Bake for a further 40 minutes.  It is cooked when a knife comes out clean.  It should be well risen and springy to touch. Leave to cool in its cake tin.  Once cool turn out and wrap in foil.

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