Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin {gluten-free, vegan}

Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin is the most moreish treat in your cake tin, sticky, chewy and laced with spices. Plus this version is also gluten-free, vegan and naturally pretty darn yummy.

Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin {gluten-free, vegan}

Parkin is a traditional recipe from Northern England eaten on Bonfire Night which is when this recipe was supposed to be posted but life has been getting away with me a little bit, hence the delay. Really though, parkin is pretty delicious all year round, why limit yourself to the 5th November.

If you are a traditional Yorkshire lad or lass then look away now as you’ll probably shudder in terror that not only have I removed all the butter from your parkin but I have also drizzled it in a tangy blanket of lemon icing. I promise though, once you forgive my blatant flagrancy of the word ‘parkin’ you will learn to love these little changes. These Lemon Iced Sticky Stem Ginger Parkins are lighter than their namesake thanks to the coconut oil and almond milk used in the bake and the zesty lemon gives a lovely textural and tasty balance. Don’t worry though, I haven’t messed around with the thick oozy golden syrup which is what gives parkin its personality.

Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin {gluten-free, vegan}

I have been making a variation of this parkin for years and originally started making it from a Sarah Randell recipe ripped out of Sainsbury’s Magazine, I think. It’s always been my go-to bake for WI and school cake sales as it’s difficult to find anyone who can resist the charms of parkin. It’s a bit like gingerbread but stuffed with a lot of oats so is a little chewier. The golden syrup or treacle used in the recipe make the treat gloriously sticky. So it’s chewy, sticky, packed with spice and definitely homely. I’ve recently started including the Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin on my own cake stall and customers have been loving it. It’s Mum’s favourite and if she is staying the weekend to help out with Cole then it’s a given that she’ll expect me to tuck a little piece away for her train journey home.

Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin {gluten-free, vegan}

Parkin is also great as it seems to last and last, as my Mum can attest to the time when she forgot about the parkin in her handbag and only got around to eating it 5 days later. It definitely improves after a couple of days of resting in the cake tin as it gets more sticky. If you don’t want to eat the parkin straightaway then I would recommend leaving it whole and only cutting into pieces when you want some. Although you will find it difficult to restrain yourself.

Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin {gluten-free, vegan}

Print Recipe
Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin {gluten-free, vegan}
Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin is the most moreish treat in your cake tin, sticky, chewy and laced with spices. This version is also gluten-free and vegan.
Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin {gluten-free, vegan}
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
12 squares
Ingredients
Stem Ginger Parkin
  • 300 g golden caster sugar
  • 125 g sweet rice flour
  • 100 g oat flour
  • 35 g tapioca flour
  • 185 g gluten-free oats
  • teaspoons ground ginger
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 300 ml almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 165 ml coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 3 balls preserved stem ginger finely chopped
Lemon Icing
  • 225 g icing sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
12 squares
Ingredients
Stem Ginger Parkin
  • 300 g golden caster sugar
  • 125 g sweet rice flour
  • 100 g oat flour
  • 35 g tapioca flour
  • 185 g gluten-free oats
  • teaspoons ground ginger
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 300 ml almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 165 ml coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 3 balls preserved stem ginger finely chopped
Lemon Icing
  • 225 g icing sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin {gluten-free, vegan}
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 150°C and line and grease a 20cm square baking tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, flours, oats, ginger, bicarbonate of soda and salt and set aside for a minute.
  3. Take a medium sized saucepan and pour in the almond milk, golden syrup, coconut oil and cider vinegar. Turn onto a gentle heat and stir the ingredients together until everything has melted together.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, along with the stem ginger and beat well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, leave the parkin to settle for ten minutes then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Make the icing by beating together the lemon juice and zest with the icing sugar until the icing is pourable.
  8. Pour the icing over the cooled parkin, leave to set and then cut the parkin into 12 squares.
Recipe Notes

* A lot of gluten-free oats are of the rolled or jumbo variety but that doesn’t work as well for this recipe. I have found that Nairn’s gluten-free oats which are a finer oatmeal give the best texture as the oats are able to become a part of the cake without being too granular.

Lemon Poached Chicken with Gingery Rice

Lemon Poached Chicken with Gingery Rice

Since the New Year I have been laid low by a horrible bug.  Sickness is no fun when you enjoy guzzling yourself silly three or more times a day, especially when you are used to food being the comforter and not the antagonist.

lemon chicken with ginger rice3A recipe was called for to nurse myself back to health and there was no other ingredient to turn to than ginger.  Although scientific research is on the fence over the actually proven combative results of ginger, I am a sworn believer that a few matchsticks of fresh ginger can settle the stomach and promote general well being in the face of any adversity, especially poorliness.

The refreshing zing required a soothing background of tender lemon chicken and rice.  The vegetables needed to be cut small so they practically melted into the rice and the patient doesn’t pick out their nutrients.

Poached chicken
The chicken breast poached in stock and a dash of lemon juice adds a light protein to the dish, perfect for rebuilding energy.  I have specified below that using bouillon in this instance is fine but typically I didn’t have any so I poached my chicken with some ends of veg and herbs to impart a bit of flavour.  A stock on the go if you will.

lemon chicken with ginger rice2Lemon Poached Chicken with Gingery Rice

Serves 2

1 chicken breast
Stock for poaching, bouillon is fine to use
Juice of ½ lemon
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
½ courgette, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
30g root ginger
½ chilli, seeds removed, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
300g cooked basmati rice
1 tsp sesame salt

  1. Place the chicken breast with the lemon juice, bay leaf and sprig of thyme in a small saucepan and enough hot stock to cover. Bring to a simmer then put the lid on. The chicken should take about 10 mins depending on the size of the chicken breast.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil with the onions for 5 mins until soft.
  3. Add the courgette and carrot and stir-fry on a medium-high heat.
  4. Peel then grate in almost all the ginger, leaving some to cut into small matchsticks for later.
  5. Add the chilli and garlic and stir for 3-4 mins until the veg is starting to brown.
  6. Add the rice and sesame salt and stir until the rice is piping hot. You might need to add a dash more olive oil if the rice is sticking.
  7. Take off the heat and serve with the poached chicken, lemon slices and the ginger matchsticks.
Puppy and Tiger

Even though puppy and my little tiger make excellent companions sleeping on my sick bed none of them have yet learnt how to whip up a chicken soup.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

The reason I have been absent from posting for a few days is a very good one.  I have been baking this lovely Chocolate Gingerbread Cake extravaganza with stem ginger frosting and decorated with gingerbread houses, each representing one of beloved buildings in Stroud Green where I live.

IMG_3127I was asked by our WI President to make the cake for our Christmas outing to the panto.  A big group of giggling women trooping off to the new Park Theatre in Finsbury Park to see Sleeping Beauty is an occasion in and of itself and we definitely made our presence known.  However, the cake was also in celebration of the two year anniversary of the founding of Stroud Green WI.  It’s a fantastic group of women of all ages and backgrounds and we meet once a month for a catch up about local events and charities that we are involved with and also for some brilliant activities.
Stroud Green WI Cake

This year has been an amazing year for our WI, we have has some fascinating talks about design and forensic science, a visit from Wildes Cheese, dress-making lessons from Clare-Louise Hardie from the Great British Sewing Bee, quilting, sugarcrafting, a local history walk, a summer picnic.  And a hell of a lot of cake, which is the most important thing obv.  So I was only too happy to bake this cake and I wanted to make sure it was really special.

Chocolate and Gingerbread cake7

The templates for the houses were made the WI way, using card and a craft knife.  The sizes I went with were 10cm x 4cm for the tall thin houses, 10cm x 6cm for the stations and big buildings like Rowans bowling alley, 9cm x 5cm for the average sized buildings and 8cm x 4cm for the diddy ones.  To calculate how many you will need, wrap a piece of string around the circumference of the cake tins then measuring it against a ruler.  I then divided the circumference into the various widths I had chosen, deciding which houses would fit best where.

Chocolate and Gingerbread cake3

The Stroud Green WI banner was made with sugarpaste, hung on string and tied to cake pop sticks.

To assemble I placed one half of the 23cm cake on a 25cm cake drum, spreading a good layer of frosting on before putting the second layer of cake on top.  I then lightly frosted all over for a crumb coat.  I did the same with the 20cm cake but built it on top of a 20cm cake board.  I put both cakes in the fridge to set overnight.  The next morning I gave them both a second layer of frosting, inserted four dowels around the centre and into the 23cm cake to act as support then placed the 20cm cake carefully on top.  I added a white sugarpaste border to the cake drum and also a ribbon to the side.  Next I stuck the gingerbread houses onto the cakes which clung to the sticky frosting.  Finally I erected the Stroud Green WI banner onto the top of the cake, pushing the cake pops down as far as they would go so the banner would stay upright.  Then I took along to the panto where it was swiftly demolished – just like our local landmark Rowans bowling is soon going to be (an absolute travesty – what can we do!!??!!)

Chocolate and Gingerbread cake6

Oh, and in case you are wondering – the panto was excellent too!

Chocolate and Gingerbread cake5

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

For the cakes:

495g plain flour
180g cocoa
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
360g unsalted butter
300g light brown sugar
335g caster sugar or golden syrup sugar
9 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
180g dark chocolate with ginger, melted then cooled
360ml whole milk
360ml boiling water
70g dark chocolate with ginger, chopped into chips

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Line and grease 1 x 23cm round cake tin and 1 x 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, ground ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the butter and the sugars for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract. At this point the mixture usually looks curdled but don’t worry it will come back together.
  5. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk together until completely combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed.
  7. Pour in the boiling water and mix until just combined.
  8. Pour into your prepared cake tins, then scatter the chocolate chips on top, pushing them down slightly into the batter. Bake for 45-50 mins but do check after 30 mins and if your cakes are browning too much then place some foil over the top for the rest of the baking. Check they are ready by inserting a metal skewer into the cakes – it should come out clean.
  9. Leave the cakes for 10 mins in their tins before removing then cool on a wire rack completely before cutting in half width ways then frosting.

For the stem ginger frosting:

300g egg whites
500g caster sugar
680g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 balls of stem ginger, chopped very finely or whizzed up in the food processor
1 tbsp of the stem ginger syrup
Good pinch of salt

  1. Heat the egg whites and caster sugar in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
  2. Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  3. Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will look curdled. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen and just means you are nearly done. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, the stem ginger plus the syrup and the salt. Mix until thoroughly combined.

For the gingerbread houses
Makes about 28 houses

680g plain flour
3 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g dark brown sugar
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
180g treacle
1½ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt and bicarbonate of soda together.
  2. Rub in the unsalted butter with the tips of your fingers so it resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer beat the sugars with the eggs, treacle and vanilla extract until fully combined.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and bring together with your hands to form a dough until everything is combined and you can pat it into a smooth ball.
  5. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  6. Whilst it is chilling you can make your templates.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge and start your rolling and cutting. I rolled just a small amount of dough at a time due to space.
  8. Form each piece of dough into a round ball then roll out using a silicone roller to avoid sticking. The dough will be a little tough at first but will soon start rolling out beautifully.
  9. Use 5mm spacers on either side of your dough so you can ensure it is all evenly rolled to exactly the same depth.
  10. Place your card templates on the dough then cut out with a knife.
  11. Place each house on a baking sheet with about 2½ cm gap in between. They shouldn’t spread out but it’s good to be careful.
  12. Put the baking sheets in the fridge and chill for 30 mins.
  13. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180°C.
  14. Bake the gingerbread houses for about 6-8 mins each. They are ready when you can barely see the corners just start to crisp but the middle of the biscuits should still be a pale golden brown.
  15. Leave to cool on the trays.
  16. Decorate with royal icing any way you wish.
IMG_3128

 

Gingerdead Men

Gingerdead Men

Do you know what I love? Gingerbread men. They are delicious. I could eat a mountain of the chirpy little fellows. Are they strictly adult food? Maybe not but do I have to feel slightly embarrassed that I spent a wonderful afternoon baking and decorating these without a child in sight? No, I don’t.

I did, however, in a very grown up and scientific way conduct very thorough research on this humble biscuit and made two different recipes. For science. One was the biscuit I grew up on, flavoured with golden syrup and ground ginger. The second was a more adult version from Dan Lepard which had a lot more spice, treacly muscavado sugar and cocoa powder creating a darker, smoother, snappier biscuit with deep flavour. They were very good but I am a fool for the old school slightly soft texture, subtle ginger taste and shabbier looking biscuit from my youth. Don’t worry, both of these recipes were put through very rigorous taste tests to make ultra sure of my decision.

There is something ever so slightly sinister anyway about gingerbread men. At least with these gingerdead men you don’t have to feel so guilty, I mean they are already dead. You could even hash out a quick game pretending you’re Buffy, slaying the monsters and stuff. Not that I did that. At all. But some biscuits did get slayed. For science.

By the way, before you think I’m incredibly witty I may have unashamedly cribbed the name ‘gingerdead’, from far clever bloggers than me.

gingerdead biscuits

Gingerdead Men

Adapted from The Good Housekeeping Step by Step Cook Book

350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
100g unsalted butter, cubed
175g soft light brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour mix with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the sugar and mix well
  5. Warm the golden syrup slightly in a saucepan to make it runny and easier to use. Finally pour the golden syrup and the egg into the rest of the ingredients. Bring the dough together with your hands until everything is incorporated and is a nice smooth ball.
  6. Roll out the dough and cut out your ghouls.
  7. Place on a baking tray and bake for between 8-10 mins. They spread out ever so slightly in the oven so make sure you give each biscuit a bit of room on the tray.

Dan Lepard’s ginger biscuits recipe can be found on the Guardian website. I do recommend if you make the above recipe you should also make his. For science.