For the second post in my Christmas series I take inspiration from Medieval flavourings to show how you can add a little sweetness and spice to your Christmas hosting. In addition to the wonderful gingerbread alluded to in the title I have tagged on a tasty alternative to your eggnog this year.
I have picked gingerbread as it was one of my first introductions to the medieval era and inspired one of my favourite edible gifts for Christmas. Early gingerbread delicacies were made from breadcrumbs (hence the name), honey and some spices, though not necessarily ginger. The ingredients would be boiled and then poured/pressed into elaborate moulds dusted with even more spices as a demonstration of wealth. These moulds were often carved in the image of the monarch of the time – and so the gingerbread man was born. By the early 1600’s chefs had also added red wine, brandy and of course, sugar. This in turn evolved into the cakes, biscuits and shortbread eaten today, though the strength of flavourings have become rather subdued over the centuries. Here I combine some of the original spice mixes of early Medieval cookery with the easier baking techniques of the 21st century to produce this mouth puckering gingerbread man for the child in all of us.
Giant Gingerbread Man
- 300g self raising flour
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp white pepper
- half tsp cinnamon
- 75g caster sugar
- 50g butter
- 3 tbsp golden syrup
- 4 tbsp milk
- Preheat the oven to 160C
- Using baking parchment, draw a template of a large gingerbread man. He wants to be about 31cm high.
- Warm the sugar, syrup and fat in a pan. Weigh out the flour, add the spices and pour in the melted ingredients. Add the milk.
- Bring together into a soft dough and knead gently. Roll out to about an inch thick.
- Using your template and a knife, draw the outline of a giant gingerbread man onto the dough. Make sure he is cut out properly and place on a non stick baking tray.
- Bake for around 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Leave to cool slightly before placing on the cooling rack.
- Decorate and wrap how you please!
After writing cards and wrapping presents nothing beats sitting in front of the fire, festive music on the stereo and warm drink in hand. My next offering is a delicious alternative to mulled wine and makes just enough to share with someone else whilst you squirrel up on the sofa. Again, the spices are typical of the period and would be utilised to great strength in order to demonstrate wealth and status. This recipe is adapted from one mentioned on website Medieval Cookery.
- 1 bottle of real ale
- 2 egg yolks
- brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and ginger
- 2 cloves
- 4 tbsp of butter
In a medium sized pan whisk together the eggs and sugar. Pour on the ale and warm gently, whisking all the time. After 5 minutes add the spices and continue on a low simmer for 5 – 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pour into mugs and serve hot.