Seems as if we are deep in this 'holiday baking' thing. Yesterday I was the judge of a holiday cookie contest at Kitchen Arts and Letters, which is an insanely cute cook book shop on the Upper East Side. It's like a tiny heaven in there - and I couldn't stop thinking about Black Books all the time and how much fun it would be to live in there ;) . There were some insanely good holiday cookies, including some from blogger friends who I recognised immediately, and I woke up with a crazy sugar induced headache this morning. Totes worth it.
We are right in the middle of getting our butts severely kicked by the holiday season. There are a zillion orders at the studio, and somehow I just can't keep on top of my to-do list. I feel as if this is a fairly standard situation for anyone with a small business - and I know that come January we will all be complaining of the quiet! Hiding away at home for the afternoon and baking something familiar always seems to do the trick and help with the stress levels.
I thought I would share with you another option for this crazy holiday baking situation that the internet seems to be lost in - a classic New Zealand recipe. I have yet to see this outside of little old NZ, and I can promise you that it is a total crowd pleaser. It's a classic "Baking tin" recipe - something that used to be made to 'fill up the baking tins'. We call it ginger crunch, although I have seen it called ginger slice too. It's essentially a shortbread like dough, made with melted butter, golden syrup, flour, all the regulars. I added in some rolled oats to add a little chewiness. The base is mixed up, and pressed into a tin, and baked off. Just as it comes out of the oven it is loaded up with a super sweet, super gingery icing, and left to set. And that's it! Its very simple, but insanely delicious.
This recipe makes loads - I used a 9" square cake tin to make this in. I cut it into 16 squares for the photos, but then ended up cutting each piece in half again, because a whole piece all at once low key makes you feel like you're getting diabetes on the spot. It's meant to taste like that though - the chewy base is complimented by the sweet icing. It's the perfect holiday, or any time treat, and keeps extremely well.
A few wee tips:
I use Golden Syrup in this recipe. It lends a certain flavour to the slice, and i haven't tried substituting it. It's in the base and the topping, so I would recommend getting some if you can! I get mine on amazon
This is super sweet. It's meant to be that way. Just a word of warning. It's also super addictive.
I use a fair amount of ginger in the topping, so if you don't want it to be super 'spicy', you can dial back on this a little.
Make sure to add the ingredients for the topping in the order specified, so that the sugar doesn't get all stuck to the bottom of the pot. It makes for lumpy icing. If you do end up with lumps, the immersion blender fixes everything. Trust me on that one.
I have put the measurements for butter, golden syrup etc in grams. It's considerably easier to measure the golden syrup in grams - if you use a measuring spoon, lots of it gets left behind because it's so stick. Get yourself a scale if you don't already have one! Best $10 you will spend.
This makes loads. It makes great gifts, but the recipe can most definitely be halved and made in a smaller tin (a loaf tin would likely work well), but ensure you adjust cooking times.
Oaty Ginger Crunch
- Makes 16 large squares, or 32 smaller bars -
2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 cups (300g) brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (135g) rolled oats (old fashioned oats)
225g (8oz) unsalted butter
90g (3.2oz) golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.
135g (4.8oz) unsalted butter
125g (4.4oz) golden syrup
2 Tbsp ground ginger (dial back to 1 1/2 Tbsp if you don't want a super intense ginger flavour)
2 2/3 cups (325g) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- PROCESS -
Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Grease a 9" x 9" (23cm square) tin, and line with two pieces of parchment paper, so that there is paper sticking out of the tin on all sides, forming a 'sling'.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Add the brown sugar and rolled oats, and mix well to combine.
In a small pot, melt together the butter, golden syrup and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients, and mix well. Press the mixture into the tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden on the edges. Five minutes before the base is done, prepare the topping.
For the topping, add all of the ingredients to a medium pot in the order listed. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Pour over the hot base, and leave to set at room temperature until set. Slice into pieces with a hot knife. Store in an airtight container. Can be kept in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before eating.