I’ve been less than enthused about Christmas in general over the past few weeks and frankly my overall feelings toward this holiday of holidays are still rather up-in-the air mere hours away from the big event. There’s something not quite right this year. Perhaps it’s the fact that I wasn’t able to put our adorable little tree in the living room because Watson and Dexter refused to stop scaling the branches? Until this weekend I could have also lamented on our lack of snow, but now Boston is thoroughly blanketed in cold white piles so I can’t use that as an excuse any longer. Even an evening viewing of the seasonally sweet movie The Holiday accompanied by a lovely glass of wine didn’t do the trick. But I soldier on.
This tasty gingerbread recipe from Nigella Lawson’s newest cookbook, Nigella Christmas, is the closest I’ve come to experiencing any real holiday spirit thus far. Having your home bursting with the rich aromas of cinnamon, molasses, and cloves even managed to melt my grinchy heart a bit. The texture of this festive cake is just outstanding and when dusted with a light covering of confectioners’ sugar you’re left with an elegant and simple dessert that is always a crowd-pleaser.
As for my ongoing holiday malaise, perhaps it will lift completely on December 23rd around 5:00 PM when I’m officially on winter break until January? Or maybe the Wednesday delivery of my organic free-range turkey and truffle butter from D’artagnan will finally be the answer. We’ll see…
Adapted from Nigella Christmas
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup molasses
2/3 cup packed soft dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs, beaten to mix
2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a roasting pan or ovenproof dish (approx. 12 x 8 x 2-inches) with aluminum foil or parchment paper (if using foil, grease it too).
In a saucepan, melt the butter over a lowish heat along with the sugar, syrup, molasses, fresh and ground gingers, cinnamon and cloves.
Take off the heat, and add the milk, eggs and dissolved baking soda in its water.
Measure the flour into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. It will be a very liquid batter, so don’t worry. This is part of what makes it sticky later.
Pour it into the prepared pan and bake for 45–60 minutes until risen and firm on top. Try not to overcook, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the gingerbread cool in the pan before cutting into 20 squares, or however you wish to slice it.
Optional: Combine 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and one tablespoon of water. Then spread over the top of the cold slab of gingerbread. You can also add a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar.