Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dutch treat

We made a gingerbread house. The second one in my lifetime (my uncle made one with me and all my cousins when we were young) and this one was made with no particular occasion in mind - just some fun for the kids. DSCN0438 

  The recipe is a family favourite for gingerbread boys. The idea is to let the children create as if it were playdough to make biscuits resembling boys and girls, animals, and basic shapes. Here is the recipe, a family one, I think from my Great-grandma's days. I have played around with it through years of making these reliable goodies. DSCN0442

Flour - 2 1/4 lb (1 kg)Brown sugar - 1 lb (1/2 kg)
Ground ginger - 1 oz (30g packet)
Butter - 1/2 lb (450g) Golden syrup - 1 tin (1kg)
Mix together in a really large vessel (I use a soup pot) the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and ginger). Grate the butter into this and rub it together until it resembles bread crumbs (much like how you'd make scones). You can do this in batches to make it easier.  Warm the syrup by placing the opened tin into a shallow pot of water, bring to a simmer on the stove and turn it off. Should take a few minutes only, don't let the syrup get hot, stir it often with a table knife. Mix the syrup with the rest of the mixture until it forms a stiff dough. You can do this in stages by adding enough syrup to make the dough by guessing and checking. It is not an exact science...
It's ready to roll, or get the kids busy making their 'boys'. I like to use currants for eyes, buttons etc, and any marks made by a fork or knife will stay put. The dough doesn't rise much, it expands ever so slightly as it cooks. Ensure the cookies are between 3 and 10mm (1/8-3/8 inch), the thinner the crunchier. Also, not too large as the middles won't cook through so well. You might need to 'squash' the children's creations to make them fit the height restrictions. Here is an example my daughter made. DSCN0443
 I also like to roll out some of the dough and use cookie cutters to fill a tin with crunchier biscuits to go with cups of tea. These I make a bit thinner than the handmade kind, closer to the 3mm height.
Bake at 150 degrees C until cooked through, usually 15-20 minutes. Cool then store in an airtight container.
Apparently it isn't easy to come across tins of golden syrup like we have here in NZ. The brand is Chelsea and if you can't find any, try molasses or treacle instead??
Anyway,  back to the gingerbread house. We are part Dutch and always like to get some dropjes (Dutch liquorice, often salted) from our local Dutch shop. We went for colourful ones this time. They made cool roof tiles.
This cake isn't as pretty as it could be if I'd made it alone, but the kids sure enjoyed getting stuck in and decorating it. I like to think they will enjoy it more for having played a part in making it. They helped with all stages of the dough making and cutting too.
Wicked! Now, to think about who to share it with and when to eat it... Coffee on Saturday afternoon with the grandparents sounds good. Check.

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