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Gingerbread recipe and tips

pain d epice
Gingerbread is a childhood favourite and conjures up warm images of gingerbread men and gingerbread houses like in fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel. It's also a warm, spicy Christmas favourite!
Recipe
There are many different recipes for biscuits and cake, which often vary according to regions, spices, whether you use honey or not, and whether you want a soft, moist ginger cake or hard, crunchy biscuits. Gingerbread started out as a form of bread! Here's our recipe for soft gingerbread.

Ingredients for gingerbread cake with honey:
- 250g honey
- 250g flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 sachet of yeast
- 2 eggs
- 100ml milk
- 1 tsp ground green aniseed
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp powdered cinnamon
- 1 tsp powdered ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- 3 tbsp vanilla sugar

Preparation:
- Heat the honey in a pan or microwave. When it's nice and hot, pour it into a bowl on top of the flour, yeast, both types of sugar and 1 tsp of each spice (green aniseed, nutmeg, cinammon and ginger).
- Mix with a wooden spoon, add the eggs little by little, then add the milk lukewarm to make the mixture come together. Pour into a well-buttered and well-floured cake tin and bake at 160°C (GM 5-6) without pre-heating beforehand, for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Leave to cool completely before removing from the cake tin, and wait a minimum of 24 hours before tasting. It will keep for at least a week wrapped in tin foil.

Tips:
Baking
Start out with a completely cold oven (don't pre-heat). You'll get a nice crust and a well-risen, thoroughly-cooked centre.
Spices
Green aniseed is one of the secret ingredients that makes gingerbread what it is, but the combination of all the spices is what gives that unique flavour. Adapt your quantities according to taste, leaving some out and adding others as you wish (examples: cardamon, star anise, fennel and crushed coriander).
Flavouring
For gingerbread with a difference, add dried fruit, sun-dried fruit, fresh fruit, orange juice or rum.
Honey
You don't have to use honey, but it does add to the spicy taste. As a rule flower honey is used, but orange, acacia or chestnut honey also give gingerbread a delicate flavour.
Flour
Use wholemeal flour, chestnut flour, (1 part chestnut flour to 2 parts white flour), rye flour or spelt flour for a more compact finish, a darker colour and a stronger flavour.
Milk, butter and eggs
These are completely optional, but they do add texture, softness and sweetness to gingerbread. Decide whether you want your gingerbread to be dry and crumbly or soft and compact.
Gingerbread men
You need to use just enough flour to make the dough stick together well enough.
Nutrition
Gingerbread is high in calories; all the more so if it contains honey, wholemeal flour and dried fruit! It provides fast-release energy, which makes it ideal for people who do endurance sports such as walking, skiing and roller-blading. It also keeps very well - just wrap it well so that it doesn't dry out.
What goes with gingerbread?
You can enjoy gingerbread on its own, but it can also be combined with a surprising number of other foods!
On toast
With cold meat, some types of paté and very often with cheese. The sweetness and spices go wonderfully well with strong, clear flavours and interesting textures.
With savoury
Gingerbread is a key ingredient in Belgian beef stew! It's also used to make breadcrumbs, in game recipes (crumbled in sauce, for example), in some stuffed vegetable recipes and in savoury crumbles.
With cheese
Goat's cheese, Gorgonzola, blue cheese like Roquefort, fromage frais and many other types of cheese are delicious with gingerbread, either melted, just as they come or fried in gingerbread crumbs.
In desserts
The possibilities are endless! You can use gingerbread in tiramisu, cheesecake, charlotte, crumble, trifle and just about anything. Crumble over cooked apple and grill for 1 minute for a quick, crunchy, delicious light dessert.
Published by Sarah Horrocks
18 Dec 2007
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