My New Years resolution to post more to my blog got off to a good start and then life rapidly took over as usual. There are not enough hours in the day to do what I have to do, let alone the things I just want to do. Despite this modern affliction that affects us all, a few weekends ago I managed to bake one of the cakes I have wanted to bake since the idea for this project first came to me – gingerbread.
Anyone paging through the family cookbook (as I do fairly often) will notice gingerbread recipes, a lot of gingerbread recipes. In fact the ‘G’ section of the index is completely dominated by gingerbread recipes. Most of these recipes are in my Great-Grandmother Dodo’s writing and all of them are splattered and stained – very well used. The one most splattered and well used and the page the recipe book naturally falls open to if left to it’s own devises is ‘Auntie Kath’s Gingerbread’.
With gingerbread obviously being a firm favourite, dare I say, a weakness of Dodo’s, it would have been a good place to start this blog – if only I had had the key ingredient in the house the day I wanted to start – ginger! I know any of you who have seen my spice cupboard will be surprised that any spice could be missing from that cupboard, let alone one as common as ginger, but Christmas is a gingery time and I was out. So, it was left to Crunchies to start my new project and being such a central part of every Zimbabwean child’s upbringing, filled the post admirably, but now on to Dodo’s favourite.
I know who Auntie Kath is in the family tree, she is Dodo’s sister (my great-great-aunt), but apart from that, I didn’t know much else. My mission therefore when next speaking to Polly was to discover firstly, what was with all this gingerbread and secondly, her memories of Auntie Kath.
The answer to the gingerbread question was as we already surmised from the numerous entries in the recipe book – Dodo loved it and made it a lot (not just gingerbread, anything ginger). Polly also had lots of memories of Auntie Kath and her baking which by all accounts was legendary. Apparently her scones, as well as her Gingerbread were famous in the family and both were included amongst the refreshments for her tennis parties which she held every Sunday. Polly mentioned that she was very close to Kath who was a figure in her life that she could always confide in and ask advice. Her cookery advice at least has been recorded for us all and now it was my turn to give it a go.
I followed the recipe exactly as it is below and it illustrates an important point about my family. Dodo and Polly were baking for large families – very large. Dodo had 6 children, 31 grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren when she died. Polly has 5 children,10 grandchildren (all of whom are remiss in providing great-grandchildren) and a ridiculously large number of nephews, nieces, great-nephews etc. I am not even going to bother to count, it would take too long. My point is – this recipe is designed for numbers.
Auntie Kath’s Gingerbread – pg34
- 110g sugar
- 110g margarine (I used butter)
- 3 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Syrup
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1 Cup Warm Water
- 2 tsps Ground Ginger
- 2 tsps mixed spice (I did not have mixed spice either and used 1/2 tsp each of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cloves)
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tsp Bicarb Soda (Dodo’ notes also say to add 2 tsps cinnamon if you are not using brown sugar)
Melt the sugar, marg and syrup until all melted and combined (warm). Beat the eggs and add them to the milk. Mix your dry ingredients (in your biggest mixing bowl), then add syrup mixture and then egg/milk mixture. Beat altogether. Dissolve the bicarb with the warm water and add this to your batter. Beat well. Cook in the oven at 180 degrees C or Gas Mark 4 for about 45mins.
I used a 22cm bread loaf tin which was too small for this quantity of batter. It all fitted in and rose nicely but had to be cooked for 20mins longer (a toothpick inserted should come out clean). A larger loaf tin should mean you only need to bake for the suggested 45mins.