Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lederhosen and Gingerbread

Run, run run as fast as you can.

Autumn has always been my favourite season. I love the subtle, almost imperceptible change in the evening temperature detectable as soon as the Summer solstice has passed. Since I moved to the Northern Hemisphere, my awareness of the change in seasons is more pronounced. I love riding my bike through the multicoloured leaves cascading from the trees on Fairview Strand and Phoenix Park and giving my hats and scarves a trip out for the first time in a year to trawl through the market, marveling at the brassy pumpkins and knobbly turnips. These things are still a novelty for this Aussie-bred Dubliner with Autumn at home traditionally denoting St Patrick’s Day and Easter; an altogether different set of feasts and celebrations.

Far preferable is Autumn in October, coinciding with two of my favourite celebrations: Hallowe’en and Oktoberfest. We attended Oktoberfest in Munich (or locally the “Thereisenweisn”) for the second time this year, three days of drinking strong steins of beer, merrily oompa-ing along with brass bands and overdosing on pork. Germany is the only nation I have come across to venerate the swine as food more than Ireland, eating a reported average 33kg pork per head per annum. I am eternally thankful for this love affair, being that it conceived such delights as Leberk√§se and stonking great Bratwurst. Great ‘soakage’ as they would say in Ireland.
A platter of porcine goodness accompanied by beers fit for a giant at Oktoberfest. 

My absolute favourite Oktoberfest food however would have to be the cloyingly sweet gingerbread hearts worn around the necks of dirndl-clad Wiesners. Emblazoned with enthusiastic German phrases such as ‘You are Super’ or ‘Be my bug’ (!?) I could happily eat nothing else for the whole ‘Fest (and likely fall into a sugar coma in the Hacker Pschorr tent in the middle of the third rendition of ‘Summer of 69’). Safely back home, dirndl away for another year, I tried my hand at a more biscuity version for a German colleague’s birthday.

125g unsalted butter
100g dark muscovado sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
325g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon

For icing (optional)
Royal icing coloured
Sweets or dragees for buttons

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Line baking tray with grease-proof paper.
Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat.
Sieve the remaining ingredients into a bowl and stir the butter mixture in to make a stiff dough.
 Turn out onto a floured surface and roll to a thickness of about half a cm.
Dip biscuit cutters into flour before cutting the dough or try free forming some shapes with a sharp knife.
Place the shapes onto the lined baking trays and bake, in batches, for 9-10 minutes until light golden brown.
Remove from the oven and place on rack to cool.
When completely cool, decorate with coloured royal icing and sweets.

1 comment:

Ash C said...

They look so yummy will definitely give them a try!

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