Old-fashioned Gingerbread!

Yesterday I had another spontaneous baking day that changed originally planned chocolate chunk cookies to something I have been wanting to bake in ages.  Thats right! Old-fashioned gingerbread! I have no idea why I want to make gingerbread so much, maybe its because of I love gingerbread cookies so much.  So this sounds like something tasty to experiment or maybe its just to bring some (really) early Christmas baking into the house.  I don’t know the reason, I did it! I finally made gingerbread and it turned out pretty good!

Yet another recipe from 500 Cookies, Biscuits & Bakes by Catherine Atkinson

OLD-FASHIONED GINGERBREAD

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vinegar

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

generous 1/2 cup caster sugar

1 egg, at room temperature

3/4 cup molasses

whipped cream, for serving

chopped preserved stem ginger, for decorating

 

How to make it:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line an 8in square cake pan with baking parchment and grease the parchment and the sides of the pan.

2. Add the vinegar to the milk in a small bowl and set aside.

3. In another mixing bowl, sift all the dry ingredients, except the caster sugar, together three times and set aside

4. In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg until well combined.  Stir in the molasses, stirring well.

5. Fold in the dry ingredients in four batches, alternating with the milk.  Mix only enough to blend.

6.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until firm to the touch.  Cut the gingerbread into squares and serve warm with whipped cream.  Decorate with preserved stem ginger.

 

This recipe turned out pretty well.  It wasn’t too sweet either.  I believe that it should have been more firm, but it could be because instead of milk and vinegar reacting together, I could only use water.  You can also decorate it like it says with whipped cream but since my mom isn’t a big fan of that, I decided to let that go as well.  Without any toppings, I can tell you that it still tastes pretty good, so its really a preference.

I will definitely consider making some of this for Christmas when December comes around.  Maybe its time to start trying out some new recipes for Christmas baking.

Do you think its too early? Its just baking, right?

 

 

Chocolate Eclairs

Last Thursday was a big baking day.  I spent about 4 hours from 8pm-midnight spending quality time in the kitchen.  I finally made those Sugar Cookies with the dough I had made on Sunday and although the cookie cutters seemed to have vanished, that batch turned out rather nice as well.

Deciding to make Eclairs was a huge step.  I haven’t made anything like this before and most of the time when I get mixed up with whipping cream, it never turned out good.  So of course, at the same time, my best friend calls long distance and I had to ask for some help since my multitasking skills only go to a certain extent! Yes, my boyfriend.  I have to say though, he’s one great helper when it comes to these artsy recipes with whip cream.  Other than supervising and reading the quantities for the ingredients, he mixed  most of the recipes to have the right consistency to move on with the recipe.

Here is how it turned out after a night in the fridge to harden the chocolate coating:

I took this recipe from my baking book from the previous few recipes: Cookies, Biscuits & Bakes 500 by Catherine Atkinson.

CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

MAKES 12

Ingredients:

9 tbsp all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

1/4 cup butter, diced

2/3 cup water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

FOR THE FILLING:

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2 tsp icing sugar, sifted

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

FOR THE GLAZE:

4 oz semisweet chocolate

2 tbsp butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Grease and line a baking sheet.  For the pastry, sift the flour and salt on to a sheet of baking parchment.

2. Melt the butter with the water in a pan, then bring to a rolling boil.  Remove from the heat, add all the flour and beat until combined.  Return to a low heat, beating until the mixture leaves the side of the pan and forms a ball.  Leave to cool for 2-3 mins.  Gradually beat in the eggs to make a smooth, shiny paste.

3. Spoon the pastry in to a piping (pastry) bag fitted with a 1in. plain nozzle.  Pipe 10cm/4in lengths on to the baking sheet.  Use a wet knife to cut off the pastry at the nozzle.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until risen ad golden.

4. Make a slit along the side of each eclair to release the steam, lower the oven temperature to 350F and bake for 5 mins more.  Cool on a wire rack.

5. For the filling, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla. Spoon into a piping bag and use to fill the eclairs.

6. Melt the Chocolate with 2 tbsp water in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the butter.  Dip the top of each eclair in the chocolate. Leave to cool until set.

As always, the curse of lack of flour was here again.  Step 2 was extremely hard because by the time I got there.  The paste had already appeared after the heating stage, but when you add 2 eggs it because horribly liquid.  We ended adding another 3 tbsp of sifted flour and beating that in to make the smooth, shiny paste.  My boyfriend probably stood there for a good amount of time patiently beating it in to get it done.  So be careful of that stage.

Also, we didn’t have a pastry bag so we just used a ziploc bag and cut off the tip to about 1in .  As you can see, we didn’t have exactly 10cm.  There really wasn’t that much paste to make 12.

I will eventually revisit this recipe and hopefully it’ll work out a bit better, although my boyfriend ended up loving the end result a lot.  He said it tasted really delicious.  Definitely worth it to make again! I should be looking at making more pastries soon!