Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Gingerbread

Happy Valentine's Day! This morning I got up early and made some lovely little love heart shaped gingerbread. The recipe is a traditional German lebkuchen (gingerbread) that I got from the BBC food website and then added a few of my own twists to it. Did you know that in Medieval times on Valentine's day you gave your loved ones gingerbread, not chocolates? It was hoped that the warming spices would ignite the flames of love into the heart of the recipient!! hehe The recipe is very straight forward and the little love hearts turned out a treat.

You start off with plain flour (used a white spelt flour), ground almonds, baking power and spices. I used ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and freshly ground black pepper. To this I added roughly chopped mixed peel and the zest of a lemon and mixed all the dry ingredients together.

In a pot I melted butter (I used a vegan butter, but regular butter is what the recipe called for) and a load of honey! All the sweetness in this recipe comes from the honey, so I would suggest finding a really delicious and perfumed honey, like a wild flower or forest honey. Once they combined I added half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and then mixed all of the wet and dry ingredients together.

The mixture then needs to cool down (either in the fridge for half an hour or pop it into the freezer for 15 mins) as it is very soft and you'd never be able to roll it out or shape it while still warm. I wrapped the mixture in clingfilm and when it was cool enough then rolled it out between 2 pieces of clingfilm to keep the counter clean and not have to add any extra flour to the mixture when trying to roll it out.

I used a little heart shaped cutter but disks are the most traditional shape for lebkuchen. Then just pop them into a oven of 180C (160C fan) for 15 mins and leave them to cool. The recipe called for them to be iced but I like how they look without and they definitely don't need any more sweetness! Then just leave them to cool and firm up a bit and give them to the one you love!

Happy Valentine's Day xxx