Saturday, November 18, 2006

Jamie Oliver's Gingerbread

I am quite happy to admit that I am a Jamie Oliver fan. I like his style of cooking and I admire his enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to take risks to achieve good things.

So I couldn't resist his new cookbook "Cook with Jamie". I snapped it up last week and have been devouring it ever since. I have to say that I am quite pleased with my purchase. The recipes are straight forward and appealing. There's quite a bit of interesting information about ingredients. I found the info on how to use different cuts of meat very useful. I think the vegetable section in particular is excellent. I think it's a smart approach to pick a few vegetables that everyone eats day in and day out and show what can be done with them. I can't wait to try the onion gratin.

On the downside, I don't think this is a book for absolute beginners. If I knew nothing about cooking, I would prefer step by step photos. I would want to know what creamed butter and sugar or stiff egg whites should look like and so on. There's nothing worse than going through a whole process and then sadly dumping all those beautiful ingredients into the bin because in the end it was inedible.

I also think there is also far too much emphasis on seafood. 91 pages worth, 30 odd pages more than beef, lamb, pork, chicken, duck, and rabbit combined. As you can tell I am not a fan of seafood.

Anyway, what got me really excited was the recipe for gingerbread. This recipe is an attempt to recreate the famous gingerbread that's been sold in Grasmere in the Lakes District of England for the last 150 years. I tried this gingerbread on a vist about ten years ago and it was sublime.

So naturally, this recipe was first cab of the rank. And it was a success. It's based on shortbread and Jamie gives a recipe that can be used. Not having the time, I used bought shortbread - UNIBIC real butter fingers to be exact. This was fine. Mine is quite a bit thicker than Jamie's as I didn't have the right size tin. So the texture was a bit chewier than is probably intended. But I really liked it.

I kicked up the ginger a bit by adding tablespoons of ground ginger rather than teaspoons, as ginger is a flavour that I love. It came out just right for my taste. And there's a lovely crunch from the demerara sugar. At first bite the taste is fairly mild, but as you continue munching it starts to build and by the time you finish you are left with a full ginger flavour that lingers in your mouth. So, so good.

Ultimate Gingerbread
(by Jamie Oliver from Cook with Jamie)

Process 400g of shortbread, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger and 170g of demerara sugar in a food processor. Set aside 100g. Add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 40g of chopped mixed peel, 40g of chopped crystallized ginger, 70g of plain flour and pinch of baking powder to remaining crumbs and mix.

Melt 40g of golden syrup, 40g of treacle and 70g of unsalted butter. Mix with the crumbs (with the extra ginger, peel etc) and press into a 20x35cm baking tray. Press flat with a potato masher. Bake in 170C oven for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the hot gingerbread with the reserved crumbs pressing down with a potato masher. Cut into pieces and leave to cool.


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