With my Hungarian, Czech and German background, spicy treacle or honey cakes, such as gingerbread, are a favourite. Peter and I have been taste testing gingerbread biscuits from various market stalls and bakeries recently and we have found that they are either bland or brilliant in flavour, depending on the combination of spices and the recipe used. Quality and freshness of the spices is essential, and I believe it is much better if you freshly grind the spices immediately before use
My recipe is adapted from one in The Essential Christmas Cookbook (Murdoch Books). I have amended the spice combination to result in a more flavoursome gingerbread, and also rewritten the recipe, as I found the instructions were not detailed enough in areas. It reminds me very much of Hungarian kalacs/spiced bread.
Belle, this one is for you. May your kitchen be filled with warm and spicy, festive aromas, as mine is right at this moment. Enjoy my recipe for spiced treacle gingerbread biscuits.
SPICED TREACLE GINGERBREAD BISCUITS
140g European style unsalted butter, chopped and softened
1/2 cup soft dark brown sugar
1/4 cup treacle, preferably black
2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup self raising flour
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg white, extra
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup sifted icing sugar
food colouring, optional
Line two biscuit trays with baking paper. Grind your spices using a spice grinder or coffee grinder*. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy, then beat in the treacle and egg. Fold in the combined sifted flours, spices and bicarbonate of soda.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for two to three minutes until smooth. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for up to 30 minutes. The dough needs to be really well chilled so that it is easier to work with when rolling out and cutting. (The recipe recommends 15 minutes, however I found that this wasn't long enough and it was a warm afternoon, so the dough quickly softened, making it harder to work with).
Divide the dough into two and roll out each one between two sheets of baking paper to 4mm in thickness. Lay out on the trays and chill again for 30 minutes or until firm (NOTE: if you live in a hot climate or it's a really warm day, you may need to chill the dough overnight and work in a cool kitchen).
Preheat your oven to moderate 180 degrees C. Cut out the dough into the shapes of your preference. Place the biscuits onto the trays and bake for ten minutes, check to ensure that the biscuits don't over brown. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays for five minutes, before transferring to wire racks to cool. When the biscuits are cold, decorate with icing.
To make the icing, whisk the egg white until foamy. Add the lemon juice and sugar and stir until glossy. You could add a little vanilla extract for extra flavour. Add some food colouring if you wish to use coloured icing. Spoon the icing mixture into a piping bag and decorate the biscuits. Allow to set. Store biscuits in an airtight container.
*Clean your spice grinder or coffee grinder by grinding some rice. Wipe it out with a paper towel. And pop the cutters into a warm oven after washing them to dry them to avoid rust.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.