Hello Koala fans,
Last week was my niece’s 2nd birthday (happy birthday Lily!) and because she is a fan of Sooty and Sweep, I thought I’d have a try at making some gingerbread Sootys for her. For those that are unfamiliar with the show, Sooty is a little yellow bear that lives with a small grey dog and the world’s most eloquent panda:
That was the plan at any rate. After shopping around at my local supermarkets I didn’t have much luck with finding any gingerbread cutters, so the plan changed to gingerbread Sooty heads. I’m not entirely sure what my niece would have made of people eating her favourite TV show character but I’m sure a therapist would have a field day with it. At this point, I only had a day or two to make them prior to her birthday party so much like the rest of the house, I was rushing around trying to get things done. On top of all that, a mysterious parcel arrived in the post for me:
As I gathered the ingredients together I heard a strange sound coming from my front door:
Given that I didn’t want the postman to get savaged (again), I picked up the Koala and took him to the kitchen where we set to work:
The reason I went with gingerbread biscuits is due to the colouration, which is fairly similar to Sooty’s fur colour and because it should be easier to shape. I looked at two different gingerbread recipes for this and I got a little confused when I was buying the ingredients. Once recipe called for dark treacle and dark brown sugar; the other called for golden syrup and light brown sugar.
What happened was that I picked up dark brown sugar and golden syrup and went with the Light recipe. Would this affect the flavour and texture? Only one way to find out.
The answer is that there is a large bar of chocolate right next to the Koala – and it’s completely untouched. Clearly something was bothering him. What was bothering me was the looming party and a lot of worry. I’ve never tried icing gingerbread before and I was anxious about how well they would look at the end. I also became a little unsure of my ingredients again. With the spices, I used 2 tsp of ginger, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of mixed spice. The last was only used in the Dark recipe.
Truth be told, although I had got the ingredients a little mixed up, I was starting to feel more settled at this point. By using dark treacle, the gingerbread would have been thick and stodgy; but on the other hand, it would have had some interesting extra flavours. If I had gone with the straightforward Light recipe, the dough would be much lighter but the flavour would not have been as interesting. Returning to the topic at hand, I mixed the flour, sugar and spices together using my fingers. I found that mixing the dough this way made the dough crumbs smaller and more even than if I had used a spoon. The mixture was still dry, so it was time to bind it together with the egg and golden syrup.
Once the dough was bound together, it was time to stick it in the fridge for a while. In previous dough recipes, I’ve only left the dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes or so. This time, I left it for a full hour. This did make quite a difference when it came to handling it and was more agreeable when it came to rolling it out and cutting out the shapes.
There’s a lot of flour in that photo. The dough, even after time in the fridge was still very sticky. Using the flour helped when it came to lifting the biscuits off the board, although I suspect I may have gone a little bit over the top:
The biscuits didn’t actually take that long to bake. I’d preheated the oven for about an hour, so after 15 minutes inside, the biscuits were done:
I tried one of the biscuits about 5 minutes after they came out of the oven and they tasted *fantastic*. They had a sort of cookie-like texture to them, which made for a wonderful change from the rock solid gingerbread biscuits you often get in supermarkets. I could taste the fruit flavours from the dark brown sugar but it didn’t overwhelm the spices or the honey notes from the golden syrup. Possibly a little overboard with the spices but otherwise perfect. Which kind of led me to a dilemma – do I put icing and chocolate drops and all that on the biscuits and risk messing up the flavour, or leave them au naturelle? I went with the latter option in the end as I had almost run out of time. One thing I have learned is that while appearances are important when it comes to baking, taste comes above all other considerations. One day, I’ll be able to get both nailed down. =)
Later that night…
Just as the Koala and I were about to drift off to sleep, I heard noises coming from downstairs. More specifically, the kitchen…
Whatever it was, it had broken free and was even now rummaging through my ingredients and equipment…
The sounds were coming from inside the fridge.
I am so screwed.