Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gingembre, mon amour :)

holy cow, i am officially an old woman.

i went to bed before 10 last night and woke up at - get this : 540 am in the morning. okay so i read somewhere that our bodies are programmed to wake up the moment light hits our eyes, but this early? and this is taking into consideration that i pop out of bed automatically at 7 every morning (yes even on the weekends)...simply cos i'm so used to it.

so what do u do when you wake up this early and your body simply refuses to sink back into sweet slumber? you think, hmm, let's whip up something nice for my little truffle before we head off for our own activities for the day.

erm. sounds really sweet, except this sounds like what my grandma would do. LOL. the lovely woman would wake up at ungodly hours-whose-numbers-we-shall-not-mention, go through her morning ritual of joss stick offerings, and we would be gently roused from our sleep, in the midst of fragrant sandalwood, by the occasional sound of pots clanging as she went about wordlesslly preparing a smogasbord of delectables for the day. talk about silent efficiency...have i got a thing or two to learn from her...

i was initially planning to make vanilla custard cream puffs as i was missing Beard Papa, but a sudden craving for ginger overtook me instead. and almost on cue, gingerbread sprang to mind instantaneously. oh yes, gingerbread. the first and only time i've ever made it was in high school during home economics, and the wretched thing sank right in the centre as it's so dense. back then i didnt appreciate the flavour of the peppery root as much, so i shrugged it off and never looked back at it again. of course over the years, my taste has pretty much evolved and it's learnt to love all things ginger, and i found myself thinking of the sticky, sweet cake as it danced circles in my head. coincidentally, i found out that Truffe loves gingerbread too, so i didnt have t think further.

so there i was, 540 am in the kitchen, a pipping hot black coffee as my sole accompaniment, pausing for a moment as i gathered a mental picture of what i needed to do. as i chopped and mixed, i found myself appreciating the benefits of working early. your mind is focused and free of distractions, you have the kitchen space all to yourself, and there are no nosey parkers looking over your shoulder and asking what you're doing. i seriously hate having to always explain what i'm doing. everything went rather smoothly, save the odd moment when his housemate's friend walked into the kitchen on his way to the loo and there i was, whisking vigorously as if my life depended on it. he looked at me, stumped, probably trying to register what was going on, mumbled "hi...", then scurried away. um, whatever.

for this recipe (taken from Epicurious), i decided to use freshly grated ginger in place of ginger powder to give it an extra oomph, and substituted boiling water for tea instead (don't gingernut biscuits complement tea so perfectly?). popped the cake into the oven and waited expectantly. but i had nothing to worry about, if the inviting, spicy scent permeating the air was anything to go by. the cake had cracked nicely at the top and taken on a robust caramel hue. it was incredibly moist, and the crystallized pieces of ginger added little bursts of flavour on your tongue. served with a dollop of thick natural yoghurt, it certainly went down very nicely...and a bit too quickly too. LOL. and the goodness doesnt end here. allow the gingerbread to cool for a couple of hours for an even yummier, stickier and chewier version. i enjoyed it immensely, as did Truffe. this is a definite winner and i'll gladly make it again :)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 1/4 teaspoon five spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 cup boiling tea
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square metal baking pan. Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend well; whisk in crystallized ginger. Whisk oil, golden syrup, and brown sugar in large bowl to blend; whisk in egg and lemon peel. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients, then boiling water. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely; cover and store at room temperature. Serve warm or at room temperature with natural, thick yoghurt if desired.

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