The Small Girl, who is not quite two, knows exactly how to make me happy. She pulls a cookbook off the shelf and starts “reading” it, pointing out the pictures to Teddy. “Mmmm, look Teddy, dinner time”.
I don’t remember doing that myself, but I did used to love leafing through my mother’s two exercise books of most-used recipes. The ‘savoury’ recipes were in one book, the one with a mottled red cover, and the ‘sweet’ ones in the other, which was so well-thumbed I think the cover had fallen off. Mum had lots of other cookbooks, of course, but these two were my favourite.
About 15 years ago Mum sent me a letter saying she’d been organising her collection of cut-out and carefully written down recipes into a fancy new plastic folder. She said she’d enclosed one of my favourites so I could finally make it myself. This was actually a huge joke, because we always, always laughed at this particular page. I still don’t know what would possess this woman to send a magazine a photograph of herself eating – and anyone knows Mrs D.J Allen of Auckland, I wish you’d ask her. In any case, this was the obvious choice for Belleau Kitchen’s April Random Recipe challenge.
Mrs Allen’s Special Spicy Gingerbread
I followed Mrs Allen’s recipe to the letter when I made this, except that I ignored her instructions to bake it in two loaf tins (we only have one large one) and I couldn’t serve it on the brown pottery plate she recommends because we don’t have one of those either. I don’t think this affected the outcome in any way – it was absolutely delicious.
3/4 cup brown sugar
175g butter, melted
3/4 cup golden syrup
2 1/2 cups flour
2tsp baking soda
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup boiling water
Beat eggs with sugar, add melted butter and syrup. Beat again. Add dry ingredients sifted together and lastly boiling water. Bake in two medium-sized loaf tins at 190C for 50 minutes.
Mrs Allen says “keep one loaf to cool and serve buttered with Greggs coffee. Serve the other loaf as a dessert. In summer, cut through the centre and fill with pink ice cream. Decorate the top with whipped cream and pink guavas. Serve on a brown pottery plate. In winter, serve hot with a sauce of blackcurrants.”