I declare today to be Hug-Your-Kitchen Day.
Go on, give you kitchen a hug, polish the bench tops a little, give it a little loving, just to let it know you appreciate its hard work.
If my old kitchen could talk it would probably be a little grumpy with me and feeling just a little under-appreciated and used.
Not that I was ever rough with my kitchen, I would lovingly clean it when it got splattered with grease and diligently put things away so its benches were clear. But it's only coming to live in a someone else's house and using someone else's kitchen that I realised I actually did take my old kitchen for granted.
You take for granted that the oven will cook at a certain temperature, that the pantry has certain things in it, that the elements on the stove would light up when you turn them on and that your baking pans are in a certain place. It's only when you cook and bake in an unfamiliar kitchen that you realise that your own kitchen wasn't just a room you go into to make food - you and your kitchen are a partnership, working in synergistic harmony to make beautiful food together.
Sorry old friend. I do appreciate all the lovely meals and baking we made together as a team. I miss you and I promise to make sure I take special care of you next time I'm up.
I only came to this epiphany when one of my first baking forays down in Dunedin ended up being a bit of a disaster. Half the pan turned out delicious Super Gingery Ginger Crunch and the other half ended up as Ginger Charcoal. Cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen is a lot harder than it looks on Masterchef.
It wasn't even that I hadn't made ginger crunch before but several things conspired against me. I hadn't brought down the pan I normally used and so had to use a bigger pan making the base a little thinner than normal. The oven here also must run hotter than my oven at home as the base was on the far end of golden brown five minutes before minimum bake time. And to top it off, the elements were ceramic and I couldn't tell that I had accidentally left one on when I put the baking tray on the stove top to pour the icing on base and alas turned half the slice to ginger charcoal. Not so delicious.
You could say I should have proceeded more gingerly.
The parts that didn't turn to charcoal were really tasty. You must be a ginger fan though and have a sweet tooth. I got a sugar rush just tasting the icing!
I doubled the icing amount from the original recipe as my baking pan was a little bigger than prescribed but I think the more icing the merry really. Just cut the pieces a little smaller than you would normally (say half the size of a ginger crunch you would get at a cafe) and they are just perfect with a steaming hot cuppa.
Super Gingery Ginger Crunch
adapted from Julie le Clerc's @ Home With Love.
Makes ~ 30 pieces
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons ground ginger power
1/2 cup caster sugar
125 g butter, softened and cut into cubes
300 g butter
1/2 cup golden syrup
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons ground ginger powder
1/2 cup crystallised ginger chopped into little bits (you can double this to 1 cup if you are a ginger nut - haha get it?)
optional: 1/2 - 3/4 cup roasted pistachio nuts roughly chopped to sprinkle on top.
1. Preheat your darling oven to 180oC. Line a 20 cm x 30 cm deep sided baking tray with baking paper, making sure the paper goes right up the sides of the tin.
2. To make the base, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger powder. Then using your fingers rub the cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
3. Press the mixture evenly into the lined baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Take out of the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tin.
4. To make the icing topping, gently heat the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add the sifted icing sugar and ground ginger power and heat for 1 minute, whisking till smooth. Take off the heat (turn off your element!) and add the crystallised ginger.
5. Pour the icing over the baked base (sprinkle over roasted pistachios) and leave to cool in the tin. When the mixture is cool, the icing will have set. Take the slice out of the tin and cut into squares. Will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.