A few years ago we opened our home up to exchange students. I didn’t really know what to expect I just thought it would be fun and good for our son to learn about different cultures. I knew we’d welcome them into our family fold and take great care of them just as I would expect if my kids went on an exchange. What I didn’t expect however was just how much we’d bond with them and I certainly didn’t anticipate how much we’d miss them when they left. When they leave they take a little piece of my heart with them back to the other side of the world. 🙁
In a few months, a little more of my heart will be travelling to Switzerland when my neighbour’s student, Rahel finishes her exchange and returns home. I’ll really miss her as we walk together a lot and we share a love of food, especially baking.
Last Christmas Rahel made us some of this delicious gingerbread that her mother Isabelle has been baking for her family for 25 years.
A traditional local recipe from the canton of Aargau, Isabelle first made it at University where she was studying to become a home economics teacher.
After I begged Rahel for the recipe I found out that Isabelle had added cocoa powder to the original recipe and being a chocolate freak I realised it was why I liked it way more than other gingerbread I had tried…she’s a GENIUS! Traditionally it’s made with gingerbread spice (we’ve switched that for mixed spice) and Isabelle also added cinnamon, aniseed and cloves to the recipe along with the oil which adds a delightful stickiness to it, leaving a spicy coating of deliciousness on your tongue, leaving you wanting more!
This is so easy to make, so get cracking!…and don’t you just love the cool way Isabelle slices it! Thank you Isabelle and Rahel x
3 1/3 cups / 500 g standard flour
2 ½ cups / 500 g raw sugar
3 tablespoons / 20 g unsweetened cocoa powder
3 slightly rounded, teaspoons / 15 g baking powder
1 tablespoon / 7 g mixed spice
1 tablespoon / 7 g cinnamon
1 tablespoon / 7 g aniseed (ground or seeds)
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup / 65 ml canola oil
2 cups / 500 ml milk
- If you like you can replace the raw sugar with Demerara sugar which will add a nice toffee flavour.
- I had trouble finding aniseed, it wasn’t in any of our three main supermarkets. In Switzerland, they use the seeds but here the only Aniseed I could find was ground and you can find it at Bin Inn.
- If you like and you have it, you can use Gingerbread Spice instead of the mixed spice.
STEP BY STEP
First place an oven rack just below the centre of the oven (the top of the slice tin should be sitting in the centre of the oven) and turn it to 150°C fan/convection oven or 170°C conventional oven, on bake.
Next, lightly spray a 33 L x 23 W x 3 cm D Swiss roll tin with non-stick cooking spray and line it with non-stick baking paper.
Try lightly spraying the tin first so when you are fitting the paper, it doesn’t slide around so much.
In a large bowl, place the flour, raw sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, mixed spice, cinnamon, aniseed and the ground cloves.
Use a large wooden spoon to stir all the dry ingredients together and then create a rough well in the centre.
Pour the canola oil into the well and…
…then start pouring the milk into the centre too.
Finish pouring the milk in and use electric beaters or a stand mixer to mix it for around 3 minutes or until the batter’s smooth…
…OR you can mix it by hand…old school!
As the milk is being poured in, start stirring it in the centre, turning the bowl often and…
…just letting the flour slowly fall in from the sides.
- Doing it this way will help it be less lumpy.
When the flour stops falling in of its own accord, scrape the sides down with the spoon and continue mixing until it’s lump-free.
Pour the batter into the tin and…
…place it in the oven to bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and dry.
Leave it in the tin to cool down.
Once cool, lift it (still in the paper) out of the tin and place it onto a cutting board.
Of course, you can slice it up any way you wish, but if you like how Isabelle cuts hers, here’s how to do it…
Slice it width-ways on an angle at around 5 cm intervals.
- I used my kitchen ruler for this by laying it flat and cutting along its edge.
Go on to slice it through the centre length-ways.
Next, make two length-ways cuts, either side of the centre.
And there you have it! Really cool looking gingerbread parallelograms! (Of course, I had to google that shape. I was, still am, really useless at math!)
Look at it!…it’s soooo lovely with its sticky top!
Keepin’ it fresh – Keep in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 5 days.