The Imperfect Art of Baking by Jessica Ryn

Jessica Ryn has joined us on the blog to share a delicious gingerbread recipe like the one Violet Strong – the protagonist in her uplifting new novel The Imperfect Art of Caring – bakes with her mum. Happy baking!

‘Baking, like caring, is an imperfect art’

One of my favourite scenes to write in The Imperfect Art of Caring involves Violet baking with her mum. There’s something so comforting about baking, and it’s an excellent way of breaking down barriers between people. When I was a child, whenever I was feeling worried or sad, I remember my own mum baking with me, and my favourite by far was (and still is) gingerbread. The very smell of warm gingerbread feels like a hug to me. The recipe below from BBC Good Food is an easy one and great for getting into the Christmas feels! As someone who enjoys the smell and taste of gingerbread but isn’t likely to be invited on GBBO any time soon, this one is perfect for me. Do give it a go and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 100g salted butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 225g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar

Method

STEP 1: Heat the butter, syrup and sugar together in a small pan until melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.

STEP 2: Mix together the bicarb, ginger, cinnamon and flour in a large bowl. Pour in the buttery syrup mixture and stir to combine, then use your hands to bring together to form a dough. The dough will be soft at this point, but it’ll firm up in the fridge.

STEP 3: Put the dough on a sheet of baking parchment, shape into a rectangle, and lay another sheet of parchment on top of it. Roll the dough out to a thickness of ½cm. Transfer to a baking sheet to keep it flat, leaving the parchment in place, then chill in the fridge for 1 hr.

STEP 4: Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and line a large baking sheet with more baking parchment. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter. We used 9cm stars, but you can choose any shape. We also made some with smaller stars cut out of the centre to thread ribbon through and hang from a Christmas tree.

STEP 5: Place the shapes, spread apart, on the lined baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 mins. (Depending on the size of the cutters you use, they might need a few minutes more or less cooking in the oven). Leave to cool completely on the baking sheet.

STEP 6: Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with 1-2 tbsp water – you want to create a consistency that’s thick and pipeable, and not too thin or it will run. Decorate the cooled biscuits with the icing using a piping bag with a thin nozzle. 

The Imperfect Art of Caring, Jessica Ryn’s uplifting and moving new novel, is out November 25th in hardback, eBook and audio! Pre-order your copy here.

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