Inspiration comes from many places.
Today it came from a special offer at my local supermarket: they were selling off nearly out-of-date buttermilk so I popped a carton into my trolley. I’d thought they would become scones, or perhaps muffins.
And several years ago that is probably exactly what would have happened. But thanks to the fabulous eatyourbooks website I can type in an ingredient and find all the recipes in all my cookbooks which use that ingredient. Yes, isn’t that amazing? Isn’t technology just genius.
So then it became a toss-up between Chocolate Spice Gingerbread, from Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes Unwrapped or Sticky Chocolate Loaf from Ottolenghi. In the end the Chocolate Spice Gingerbread won, if only because I found that cookbook first. That gingerbread is ridiculously easy to make, and there was enough buttermilk left over to make Darina Allan’s White Soda Scones too. Now, how easy are they? Just flour, salt, bicarb of soda and some buttermilk all mixed lightly together and then cut out into scone shapes. They puff up beautifully, but have more of a bready texture than a light scone texture, which is fine once you know that’s what to expect.
The chocolate gingerbread led me to another recipe which had to be tried: Lemon Drizzle Choc Chunk Cake, combining the sharpness of the lemon with the depth of bitter dark chocolate. Possibly a bit like those Thorntons lemon chocolates which I absolutely love. I think it’ll work. We’ll find out in about an hour.
And, having bought a couple of punnets of damsons again yesterday I’d intended to make Damson Cheese. And then came across Sweet Pickled Damsons. I love the combination of sweet and sharp, so the pickling vinegar has been spiced and is now cooling down; the damsons have been picked over to make sure all the goopy ones are discarded and we’ll finish them off and pop them in jars later.
Would it be rude not to give you the chocolate spiced gingerbread recipe? I think so. It smells divine, and I suspect will keep well, if given the chance, which seems unlikely.
Chocolate Spiced Gingerbread
Adapted from Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes Unwrapped, which was a Christmas gift from my brother and his family Christmas 2006 (according to the inscription inside, I don’t have that good a memory!).
Grease and line a deep 7″ square cake tin. Or a round one. I used a bigger round one, so ended up with a shallower cake shaped gingerbread. Just as tasty though.
Preheat your oven to 160C / 325F / GM3.
- 125g / 4oz unsalted butter
- 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (feel free to use a chilli chocolate, or Maya Gold with orange – I just used plain)
- 75g / 3oz dark muscovado sugar
- 4 TBsp treacle
- 150ml / 1/4 pint buttermilk
- 125g / 4oz ready-to-eat prunes
- 175g / 6oz plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarb of soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Cut the butter into chunks and pop it into a heavy based pan.
- Add the chocolate, sugar, treacle and buttermilk
- Heat gently until the ingredients have melted and then set aside to cool slightly
- Snip the prunes into small pieces – scissors are the easiest way to do this
- Sift the flour, bicarb of soda, ginger and cinnamon into a large bowl (this is the bowl you will use to make the batter, so make sure it’s big enough to take all the ingredients)
- Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl and beat thoroughly with a wooden spoon
- Add the beaten egg, and beat again
- Fold in the prunes
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface of the mixture
- Bake for around 50 minutes
- Remove from the oven and leave to cook in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely
- Wrap in greaseproof paper and keep in an airtight tin.
It’ll be even better tomorrow. Or even the next day, and unlike many cakes will keep for a week if you haven’t eaten it all.
This would be perfect for a bonfire party. Or with hot chocolate in front of the fire after a vigorous, rigorous walk, kicking Autumn leaves.
I suspect it can take some messing about with the flavours too – perhaps add a wee hint of ground cloves, or star anise or cardamom? And why not some nuggets of crystallised ginger for a wee extra kick? If you were being fancy you could probably cut it into wee bite-sized pieces and drizzle lemon icing on them for sweet canapes or as part of an afternoon tea.
Talking of drizzling lemon, I’m off to make that lemon drizzle cake with chocolate chunks in it now.