Perfect Christmas just could not do without gingerbread cake!
And there is no way I’m going to miss it this year! Just like good wines a quality gingerbread (as I know it from my neck of the woods) has to rest and mature before it reaches its full potential. This improves the flavour, aroma and the texture.
The tradition of making gingerbread in Torun (city in the northern part of Poland), known as Piernik Torunski, reaches back to the 14th century. The secret recipe was passed on by the master bakers through generations and today Piernik Torunski is 19th most recognised brand in Poland in general (Source: Wikipedia).
There is nothing like the dark chocolate covered, often heart-shaped chewy biscuit with plum jam heart. This gingerbread is the first thing that comes to people’s mind when they think about Torun, and if you ask a child: “where does gingerbread come from?” you’ll surely hear: from Torun! Fresh ginger, honey, brown sugar, butter, cloves, cinnamon, plum jam… All so intense, bold and defined in the perfectly textured gingerbread biscuit or a cake.
If you ever tried the gingerbread from Torun, you’ll know what I mean about the sensational texture, which sets apart a great gingerbread from the mediocre bunch. The perfect gingerbread, like the one from Torun, can never be crunchy, too soft, too dry or too wet. The jam can’t be too runny, nor too thick.
It should have a texture of a moisten with thick, smooth jam layer, pressed, dense bread. Stay open-minded or you risk skipping a little treasure here! It might not sound very appetising at first & tricky to make, but I got the knack of the perfect gingerbread texture and my secret sits right below, in today’s, garlic free and Christmas inspired recipe.
- 1 cup (250g) runny honey
- 1 stick + 1 tbsp (125g) unsalted butter
- ¾ cup (200g) brown sugar
- ¼ cup (60ml) cold milk
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 4 ½ cup (500g) all purpose flour
- 2 whole eggs
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp fresh, minced ginger
- 2 tbsp allspice
- 1 tbsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp ground cloves
- Pinch of black pepper
- 400g plum jam
- In a non metallic bowl, mix salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and pepper into flour. Reserve.
- In a saucepan, on a slow heat, melt sugar, butter and honey. Stir it often to help the sugar dissolve completely then leave to cool. You’ll notice that as the mixture cools it becomes thicker. That’s ok.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, minced ginger and eggs.
- Add the milk mixture to the honey mixture, stir very well until combined and then pour into to the bowl with the flour. Mix well until smooth, cover with a plastic foil and let it rest refrigerated for at least 4 days. This is how the flavour develops.
- Preheat the oven to 340F (320F fan) and line a shallow baking tray with parchment paper. I use the biggest oven tray and it’s about 18” by 14”. (You can divide your dough into 3 even pieces if you don’t have a baking tray big enough and bake each part separately before assembling the cake).
- Place the dough on the parchment paper (inside the baking tray), roll the dough out evenly to about ⅓ inch in thickness and bake for 17min. Remove the tray from the oven and let it cool completely.
- Divide baked cake into 3 layers (unless you baked it in 3 parts). Spread half of the jam on the top of the first cake layer and cover with second cake layer. Spread the rest of the jam on the top of the second layer and place the last layer on the top of it.
- Wrap the assembled now cake in a fresh piece of parchment paper, place a wooden board on the top of the cake, with some extra weight on the top if possible and store refrigerated for 48-72 hours for the last maturing period. Serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar, dark chocolate ganache, fresh berries or dark fruit jam.