Tag Archives: cinnamon

Christmas Meals (3): Extra Rich Christmas Gingerbread

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This should come with the following disclaimer: boy, is this rich! You’ll see that from the ingredients, but it does make a lovely thing to have on hand at Christmastime for friends and family who might drop in for a coffee at home. (Make that Irish, won’t you?!) I guess one advantage of having so much sugar in one cake is that it will remain moist for two weeks give or take, stored in a cool place and covered with kitchen foil or wrapped in greaseproof parchment. The taste of ginger is not so prominent, so it could potentially be devoured by almost everyone. Also you won’t need to take a large piece either. This recipe is taken from Nigella Christmas, with just small changes just because I didn’t have some specific ingredients. It really doesn’t need any tweaking. It’s classic and simple, and all you need is some icing sugar to make it look pretty.

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You will need:

  • 150g butter, unsalted
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 200g molasses or black treacle
  • 125g dark brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon whole cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda), dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 250ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 300g plain flour

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Grease a square cake tin with some butter or margerine and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper or kitchen foil. If you are using the latter, make sure to grease it too. Make sure you have some extra paper overlapping at the sides so that you can lift it up easily from the tin later. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4.

Melt the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, treacle, ginger, cinnamon and crushed cloves in a saucepan over medium heat. When these are melted, switch the heat off immediately or take it off the heat if you use an electric hob.

Add the milk, eggs and bicarbonate of soda (remember: dissolved in water) into the melted ingredients.

Put the plain flour in a large bowl and add the liquid mixture, and beat in well until combined. The batter is very liquidy which will make the cake extremely sticky, but that’s the fun of it really!

Pour the batter into the lined and greased tin and bake for around 40-50 minutes. Always keep an eye on it. Mine was ready in 40 but it depends on the oven. The cake will rise and it will carry on cooking for a while even while it cools.

Let the gingerbread cool in the tin for a while, before removing it altogether on a serving dish. Decorate with some icing sugar if you wish. Happy times indeed!

Happy Christmas!

Rob x

Simple Squash and Carrot Soup

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Now this is the season for heart-warming dishes. When the weather does not cooperate, I love spending time in the kitchen. When I want comfort I try to turn to something tasty and nutritious whenever I can, though I never say no to some chocolate! However there are times when not even chocolate does the trick. On the whole I prefer savoury stuff rather than sweets, so I make soup instead. Soups can either be boring or exciting, insipid or bursting with flavour. Good ones are just that: good.

What I am giving here is just a guide. And by no means am I saying that this is the prefect recipe! You know me more than that…and cooking is not rocket science. But this is how I go about making it. Just don’t let it influence you too much. There are no rules here; the thickness, texture and taste depends totally up to you. It’s a carrot and butternut squash soup, great for this time of year, at least in the UK where it’s getting chilly. I’m not sure if my Maltese readers will see the point in giving a recipe for soup now, since apparently it’s still warm there! Ah, you lucky lucky people! Remember that you could substitute the squash with pumpkin. Just a note before I give you the recipe: the photo shows my carrot soup. I didn’t use any squash here. It’s because the actual butternut soup photo I took isn’t presentable. So unfortunately this will have to do for this post. Maybe you cannot see any difference but I just wanted my readers to know. I will eventually replace it. You will need:

  • 500g butternut squash, cubed and roasted (with a drizzle of olive oil)
  • 200g sweet potatoes, cubed and roasted
  • 200g carrots, sliced
  • 1.5 to 2 litres vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • pepper to taste

In a heavy-based pan put the squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, stock and spices together and wait for everything to boil. When the veggies are soft, blend the soup and add some pepper, and remember to taste at this stage. Serve in warm bowls and you could garnish with fresh parsley or coriander if you have some available. So easy and comforting. Enjoy!

Rob x

Note: There is no need to roast the squash and sweet potatoes but doing so will give more depth to the soup so I wouldn’t recommend skipping this step. Also you could add some freshly squeezed orange juice for a more zesty flavour. The potatoes will make your soup nice and thick and gooey.