Author Guest Post: Michelle Harrison’s gingerbread recipe
There is one middle-grade novel I am extra especially looking forward to in 2019. Michelle Harrison writes folksy, magical stories full of black-cats, fairies and local traditions. I have loved every story she has written so far, and A Pinch Of Magic looks equally amazing.
It is the story of three sisters who must break a deadly curse which has haunted their family for generations. Each sister possesses an object which has been handed down the family – a mirror, a carpet bag and a set of wooden nesting-dolls. None of these objects is what it seems.
The Widdershins sisters kindly agreed to share their gingerbread recipe. It is a pleasure and a delight to welcome Michelle Harrison and the Widdershins to my blog.
The isle of Crowstone, home to the Widdershins sisters ‒ Betty, Fliss and Charlie ‒ is often damp and chilly thanks to the freezing fogs from the nearby Misty Marshes. So what better treat to stay cosy with than some warming, spiced gingerbread?
- 350g plain flour (plus extra for rolling out)
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 125g butter
- 175g soft light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp golden syrup
Makes approx. 20 pieces, depending on cutter size. I found this gorgeous Russian doll one on eBay which came with a stamp to press in the detail. I’ve used it several times and the shapes are always met with delight. Without further ado I’ll hand over to the Widdershins . . .
FLISS: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter and rub together with your fingers ‒ CLEAN fingers, Charlie! ‒ until it looks and feels like sand.
BETTY: Sand? That looks more like shingle from the marshes. Rub it in some more.
FLISS: Shh. This is my recipe.
CHARLIE: No, it’s not. It’s Granny’s.
BETTY: Stop eating the sugar, Charlie.
FLISS: Stir in the sugar. I usually close my eyes and make a wish when I do this part.
BETTY: Can you wish not to burn it this time?
FLISS: *Snorts* Lightly beat the egg and the golden syrup together in a jug—
CHARLIE: Make sure it’s a free range egg. They’re tastier and kinder to the chickens.
FLISS: —then pour the egg/syrup mix into the bowl. Combine until it begins to clump together, then remove from the bowl and knead until smooth.
BETTY: Sprinkle some flour on to your work surface so the dough doesn’t get too sticky. When it’s ready, wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for fifteen minutes. This stops it spreading out too much and losing its shape while it’s baking.
FLISS: Ooh, yes. I always forget that part.
CHARLIE: Who cares what it looks like? Get it in the oven I WANT TO EAT IT!
FLISS: Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. Once chilled, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 0.5cm on a lightly floured surface, and cut out the gingerbread shapes. Place them on the tray with a gap between them and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown. This usually gives me just enough time to write a little love poem.
BETTY: No, this is when you clean up the kitchen and keep an eye on the oven, feather-brain. The best gingerbread is a bit chewy, so don’t overdo it! Once it’s out of the oven, leave it on the tray for a few minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
CHARLIE: IS IT READY YET?
FLISS: Once cooled, you can make your shapes look pretty by adding icing, and silver balls or sprinkles.
CHARLIE: Or just scoff it as it is. Jumping jackdaws, that’s good!
Huge thanks to Michelle Harrison for your time. A Pinch Of Magic publishes in February 2019. Pre-order here.