In 2007 I graduated from university and started my first job working in a school as a teaching assistant. It was supposed to be a stop-gap job while I worked out what career to pursue, following my studies in Early Childhood, but it ended up being so much more than that. I worked with an incredibly inspiring Early Years teacher, who gave me opportunities to simultaneously pursue my love of baking and working with children.
The first recipe that I baked with the three year old's in that classroom was this gingerbread recipe. I have revisited it a number of times over the years, and just love the soft texture of the gingerbread it makes. Every time I make this recipe, I always wonder why on earth I don't make it more. It is incredibly moreish. I challenge you to try and just eat one. I will be thoroughly impressed if you have the restraint to manage this. (Unless you're my Mum, who has the most incredible self-restraint I have ever encountered. She is most definitely the exception to the rule when it comes to the 'once you pop you just can't stop' principle, which was coined by Pringles, but applies to most kinds of delicious foods for me.)
350g plain (all purpose) flour
100g unsalted butter
175g light brown sugar (I used 60g light and 115g dark brown sugar as I didn't have enough light brown, and they were just as delicious.)
1 tsp bi-carbonate of soda
1.5 - 2.5 tsp ginger (1.5tsp gives a very gentle flavour - perfect for children who might dislike a strong ginger flavour.)
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1) Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4.
2) Put the flour, butter, bi-carb and ginger into a large mixing bowl and rub the butter through your fingers until it has all blended into the flour mixture. (The same rubbing in method you would use to make pastry by hand.)
3) Add the golden syrup, egg and sugar and mix together with a wooden spoon or blade of mixer if using one, until all of the ingredients are combined.
4) Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's 5mm thick.
5) Grease a few baking trays, then cut out the gingerbread in your desired shapes. If you'd like to use your gingerbread as Christmas tree decorations, use a straw to cut a circular hole in the pre-baked dough.
6) Bake in the pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until starting to darken slightly around the edges.