Yup - I've taken my love of dachshunds even further. This is a brilliant recipe for Christmas time, great for making biscuits for presents and perfect for keeping children occupied. Once a responsible adult has boiled up the ingredients, the dough is incredibly forgiving and can be bashed about with impunity by infants.
This is a traditional recipe: some modern ones just use the rubbing in method, which works well, giving you a ginger flavoured biscuit. But this is the real thing!
The recipe proper is at the end of the post.
Gather together all your ingredients to save cursing half way through when you realise you are out of a vital ingredient:
Weight out the sugar, then sift it into a large saucepan. The sifting is important as soft sugar is very lumpy, and hard AND lumpy if it's been exposed to air.
Grate the peel of half the orange on as small a gauge as possible to give you fine tendrils of orange zest. I am in love with the staggeringly sharp Microplane Box Grater. (US here)
Add the zest to the saucepan along with the water, allspice or ground cloves, cinammon & ginger.
Flop in the treacle or molasses and the Golden Syrup:
Mmm Golden Syrup: (Americans can use corn syrup)
Top tip: boil a kettle and pour hot water into a bowl. Heat up the spoon before plunging into the treacle and the golden syrup. This will help it scoop out the syrup from the jar and then to slide off the spoon easily into your saucepan.
Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring continually. Then remove from the heat.
Chop the butter into the saucepan:
Add the bicarbonate of soda, and stir around to melt everything together:
Weigh out the flour:
I am utterly incapable of not getting goop all over my fingers:
Sift the flour into the saucepan in several batches, mixing throughly in between.
I have found each time that I need about 30-40grams more flour than Delia suggests. The amount in the recipe leaves the dough very sticky.
Eventually it will come together into a glossy ball. (You will need to do this with yr hands). It should still be sticky, but not stay glooped to your fingers when you lift it from the pan.
Transfer the gingerbread dough into a bowl and pop in the fridge or in a cool place for 30 mins.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F.
Then: cut your ball of rested dough in half, sprinkle flour on yr work surface, and roll out the first half using a floured rolling pin.
You want it to be about 3mm thick. If you are making gingerbread men or larger biscuits, then about 5mm is a good idea. (Impossible to get off the counter in one piece otherwise.)
Roll out dough into a neat rounded square. Ahem.
Practice your spatial skills by seeing how many cutouts you can fit on your neat rounded square.
Then lift up the edges and gradually peel up the excess dough from around your cut-outs. It should come up easily. Go gently though: you don't want to amputate limbs, tails or trunks from the poor animals.
If you want holes for ribbons (if they are going to be tree decorations), now would be a good time to make them with a skewer. Then grab yourself a palette knife. (If making smaller or complicated shapes you might need a very thin bladed knife to slip under the shapes.)
Using the knife, transfer onto baking sheets (see recipe below re: sheets).
If there is excess flour on the raw biscuits, just brush it off with a pastry brush before baking.
Bake your biscuits for ten minutes at 180C/335F. They should be firm to the touch. If you bake several batches, check after 8mins, as I found mine were burning. When a lovely golden colour remove, rest for a minute, then slide off onto wire cooling racks. Don't undercook as they will go soggy very quickly.
The finished result:
Try not to eat them all before your guests and friends get near them. Although as I made 250 of them, using two batches of dough, there wasn't much likelihood of them ALL disappearing...
RECIPE adapted from Delia Smith's Book of Cakes:
75g (30z) sieved soft brown sugar (I find this works wirh Muscovado & with Demerara too)
2 tablespoons golden syrup (corn syrup works too)
1 tablespoon black treacle ( I used dark molasses as that was what we had in the larder)
1 tablespoon water
96g (3 1/2 oz) butter DO NOT USE MARGARINE - it is evil
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
1 level teaspoon ground ginger
1 level teaspoon ground cloves - I use ground allspice
finely grated rind of 1/2 orange
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225gm (8oz) sieved plain flour - I needed an extra 40 gms, just under 2ozs
plus flour for yr worktop & rolling pin
You will need:
A couple of baking sheets. Either a greased with butter or lined with greaseproof paper or, best of all with bells on, lined with a silicone sheet. These are the best invention for bakers ever. Re-usable, nothing sticks to them, so your wonderful baked goods will just slide off when done.
Cookie cutters in any sizes
Zester, Microplane or cheese grater
Rolling pin (a milk bottle makes a gd emergency rolling pin)
Palette knife/sharp knife
I tried to convert the measures into cups, but it was too imprecise for baking - .42 cup for example!