J'adore pain d'épices. Well, any gingery food stuff really - like ginger ale (especially when home brewed), crystallised ginger, ginger snaps, ginger and caramelised pear cake, ginger tea, fresh ginger added to stir fry or tossed in steamed vegetables, pickled ginger and sushi, ginger jelly... but gingerbread is my most loved, and most craved come the festive season.
A few weeks ago was overjoyed when a dear friend returned from a trip to Canada and brought back with her golden syrup as I had requested! It seems impossible to buy it in France. I have discovered its possible to get molasses at health food shops, and honey aplenty anywhere! but not the dear australian pantry staple. I firmly believe golden syrup is a must for making gingerbread. While honey and molasses can be substituted - it doesn't taste as good as that wholesome 100% sugar cane syrup.
This is my tried and true favourite recipe for fragrant, gingery gingerbread:
3/4 cup of golden sugar cane syrup
1 tbsp of crushed or grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cup of plain flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1 tsp of bicarb soda
2 tbsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ground cloves
1/2tsp of ground cardamon
1 tsp of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
Melt butter over low heat in medium sized saucepan, add golden syrup and fresh grated ginger. Bring to the boil then remove saucepan from heat and stand 10 minutes. Add sifted dry ingredients and milk into the butter/syrup mixture then stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and well-combined. Cover with a tea-towel and stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 - 2 hours - the dough will become thicker in this time.
Then turn dough onto a flat surface which has been dusted with flour. Knead lightly, working in only enough flour until mixture loses its stickiness. Using a rolling pin roll out the dough to your desired thickness - I usually go for 1/2" - and cut out shapes as desired. Place shapes on oven trays lined with baking paper. Bake in moderate oven (190'c) for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Bake for a few extra minutes if you like them crunchy. Enjoy!
p.s. interesting talk was by erwin mcmanus of mosaic