2015 Blog Tours Bookish Recipes Food inspired by books Guest Post Hodder & Stoughton Recipes Sarah Vaughan
Blog Tour: The Art of Baking Blind - Guest Post by Sarah Vaughan
Gingerbread families from The Art of Baking Blind
“Today…she is making biscuits just for the hell of it. And not just any dull cookies, but the most childish and evocative of biscuits – baked, not to impress, but to provoke a smile of utter joy. Plump, chewy and brown. Glinting with sugar. Studded with dark raisin buttons and eyes.”
The Art of Baking Blind, my novel about why we bake, is stuffed with recipes that have emotional resonance but if there’s one that sums up the spirit of the book it’s for gingerbread girls and boys. Easy to make and personalise, they encapsulate the novel’s theme of nurture and of baking at the heart of the family.
Kathleen Eaden, the 1960s cookery writer whose The Art of Baking informs the novel’s baking contest, is seen making them for her niece and nephew, while Vicki – a contestant in the contemporary story – bakes them with Alfie, her three-year-old son. At one point she asks him if he wants to make gingerbread or cupcakes:
““Gingerbread men.” He is emphatic. It is the option he goes for, without fail.
“How did I guess?”
“Always gingerbread,” she agrees.”
I came up with the idea of this novel as I baked with my own small children – making cupcakes and, yes, gingerbread families - my little boy picking out the small boy and girl cutters and enjoying making biscuits that were smaller, and therefore easier to hold. In our local bakery, they are sold with eyes piped on with icing and with smartie buttons but the traditional gingerbread men – and the ones we make – use raisins. There are various different recipes but this is a Tate & Lyle golden syrup one:
350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
115g butter, diced
175g Light Brown Soft Sugar
4 level tbsp Golden Syrup
1 medium egg, beaten
2 tbsp milk
Raisins for eyes
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170Cfan/gas 5. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger. Add the butter and rub in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the light brown soft sugar.
2. In a small bowl beat together the golden syrup, egg and milk. Stir into the dry ingredients and mix to a dough, Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
3. Roll the mixture out on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick and using a gingerbread cutter cut out 12 gingerbread men and carefully transfer to baking trays lined with parchment paper.
4. Decorate the biscuits with raisins for eyes and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Allow to cool slightly and harden before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. They will store in an airtight container for up to a week but I doubt they’ll last that long!
Thank you Sarah for sharing this special recipe for us. I cannot wait to try it myself.
About the book:
Title: The Art of Baking Blind
Author: Sarah Vaughan
Published: August 13th 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
Blurb: There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved.
In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes. Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now that her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her facade shouldn't slip.
As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn--as as Mrs. Eaden did before them--that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life.