Friday, 24 December 2010

Black Beer Gingerbread

This is Nigella Lawson's recipe, which I saw her cook this week on her current TV Series, 'Kitchen'. The Black Beer refers to stout such as Guinness, of course. She cut the gingerbread into small cubes, piled it haphazardly on a platter and stuck on a few Christmas cake decorations of small plastic fir trees and deer, before giving it a liberal dusting of icing sugar. The result suggested a rugged, wintry wasteland - but somehow it was still Christmassy.

I'm not sure whether I will go that far for my Christmas table (I'm not even sure I have any cake decorations), but this seemed an ideal cake to have around over Christmas. Gingerbread gets better with time and will easily last the whole week, if it's not eaten sooner.

I could only find the recipe online with cup measurements, so I'll list the metric 'translation' too:

150g butter
300g golden syrup
200g dark muscovado sugar
250ml stout - I used Murphy's
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
300g plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
300mls sour cream
2 large eggs

The recipe was simple to follow and everything was mixed in the saucepan used to melt the butter and sugars together, so it was easy on washing up too. I used an 11 inch square pan, as I didn't have the exact size specified in the recipe, and cut the gingerbread into 36 very small squares. I think I would cut it into larger pieces if it wasn't going to be part of a Christmas feast, when many people like small tastes of everything.

To be honest, I found the finished product slightly disappointing. It wasn't as dark as my usual gingerbread recipe, which uses a large proportion of black treacle as well as golden syrup. The beatings at each stage of mixing gave the surface of the cake a very strange holey appearance, almost as if excess gas was trying to escape. The recipe I usually use stresses not to beat the mixture; now I know why! The flavour was complex, and not too sweet, with the sour cream and stout countering the sweetness of the large amounts of sugar and syrup; I liked that result! The texture was quite light, but the cake had a slightly layered appearance, getting denser towards the bottom, as if that escaping gas was what should have been contributing to the light texture, but too much got away!

The delicious flavour just about redeems this recipe and makes it one to make again, although I think I'll go a little lighter on the whisking next time!

In fairness to Nigella, the surface of the cake looked better the next day, and most of the holes had disappeared, although the top to bottom texture still looked a little uneven. I don't think this shows on the photograph, though.

I've still got mincepies and two desserts to make, but those results won't be posted until after Christmas Day. In the meantime.....

......I wish you all a very Happy Christmas!


Chele said...

Nigella does love her Gingerbread and her plastic decs at this time of year doesn't she?! I think I prefer your version in its natural state. Have a very Merry Christmas ;0)

Celia said...

Merry Christmas, Suelle! The gingerbread sounds delicious, and can't wait to see your mince pies! :)

Gillian said...

Black Beer is not stout or guiness - it is a really dark, thick sweet drink that is mixed with lemonade - you couldn't drink it on its own. I only know of one brand -Mathers Black Beer which is made in Sheffield, Yorkshire. It would make the cake really dark and sticky

Suelle said...

Hi Gillian - interesting comment! I'm sure you're correct about true 'black beer', but IIRC, stout was what was used by Nigella in her recipe!

Foodycat said...

My aunt made this yesterday (she followed my link to your flapjack recipe), using a New Zealand black beer described as "crisper than true black beers but smoother than stout" and she said it was really delicious.

Suelle said...

That sounds an interesting beer, Foodycat. Im glad your aunt liked the recipe.