I've been inspired by the region - hard not to be really. Last year, we made a gingerbread house, and it turned out quite nicely. But the snow on the roof and the Hansel and Gretel theme doesn't really gel in this part of the world. So, here is a Middle-Eastern-Appropriate gingerbread, both in flavour and construction. And you know what? Easier than it looks...
- 250g butter, softened
- 2/3 cup soft brown sugar
- 1/2 cup date honey (dhibs)
2 eggs, beaten
- 4 cups flour
- 1/2 cup self raising flour
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 15-20 clear boiled sweets (lollies), crushed with a mortar and pestle into coarse powder.
- Prepare your template (sample alongside)
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Cream the butter, sugar and golden syrup with an electric beater. When light and fluffy, add the eggs gradually.
- Switch to a wooden spoon, and add all dry ingredients, sifted together. As dough firms up, remove from bowl and knead a little on a floured surface.
- Divide the mix into four, and wrap 3 pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Place the remaining piece between two pieces of baking paper and roll to 1/2 cm thickness. Remove top piece and cut to size of template pattern. Remove excess and place with other pieces in the refrigerator. If desired, imprint with a design (fondant or cookie cutters work well - I have used an 8-petal flower ), and cut holes all the way through for the 'windows'.
- Bake for 10 minutes on a lined baking tray. While you are waiting, prepare your second piece.
- When 10 minutes is up, remove the piece and quickly yet carefully fill the holes with a thick layer of powdered lollies, taking care to get into all corners, but not onto the surface of the gingerbread as it quickly melts and sticks. Put back in the oven for 2 minutes, or until lollies have melted. Don't burn the gingerbread!
- Repeat until all pieces of the template are complete. Set aside to harden for at least one day. Cover with a cloth once cool.
To assemble the lamp
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar 1/2 tsp coffee essence
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 tbsp boiling water
- Combine icing ingredients, starting with 1 tablespoon of water, and increasing little by little if it is too dense to stir. You are aiming for a very thick paste.
- Use a piping bag to attach sides to each other. Tie a string around the standing house/lamp until dry. Use a knife in a cup of boiling water to smooth over rough finishing and tidy up.
- When dry, make another batch of icing, or add a little boiling water to reserved mix, and paint thin layers in areas you wish to adorn. Press in decorations before it dries.
Gingerbread will keep for up to two weeks, but will eventually become too stale to eat. Light a candle and place it inside to display, but don't leave it in all night - it may melt the sugar!