Obsessiveness meant I actually decided to do something Christmassy, as opposed to just waiting for the presents to appear under the tree, and the Christmas lunch to appear on the table (magically).
So for the first time ever, I decided to make some gingerbread. Gingerbread = Christmas.
I found a few recipes which looked complicated, and then changed them all around. I do that with recipes. (It's fine.)
I ended up with "alternative" gingerbread, made with "alternative" syrup, and "alternative" flour and "alternative" sugar.
Gingerbread generally use golden syrup but I only had Molasses.
Molasses takes me back to my horsecrazy days. When I smell it I immediately see the old school barn, the feed troughs, and the giant tub of molasses. When we fed the horses after school, we would slip some molasses into the chaff to make it more edible (you know, if it's possible to make chopped up grass edible).
When I say 'slip some molasses in' I mean 'use seven different implements to get the syrup from the tub to the feed bucket while making a giant mess'. This stuff is lethally sticky. In fact, molasses is the embodiment of the word sticky.
Watch it ooze.
I realised at this point that I'd better write out the recipe I was going to try with all my "alternative" alterations.
I also realise now that I'm interspersing my gingerbread creation photos with lots of useless chit chat, so I will stop and save it for the end.
I will say that the butter, sugar and molasses melting smells wonderful. It's worth making gingerbread just for the smells.
What makes gingerbread gingerbread? The ground ginger. As you can see, I used the finest quality ginger available (to make up for my other "alternative" ingredients).
Some recipes leave it at the ginger, but I like to live dangerously and add ground cinnamon and cloves.
125g butter unsalted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
* * * * * * * *
Place butter, sugar and molasses into a small saucepan over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
Combine flour, and spices in separate bowl - set aside. Beat an egg in another bowl and add butter mixture. Sift in flour and spices and stir until well combined. Knead dough until smooth. Place in covered bowl in fridge for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line baking trays generously with unsalted butter. Divide dough into two parts. Roll out one part to approx 5mm thick on a well-floured board. Use cookie cutters to create Christmas shapes and carefully place in pan.
Bake in over for 10 minutes to less - watch carefully to see if they are burning. (Overdone gingerbread are tough and burnt tasting, even if they don't look burnt! Trust me, I know.)
I used icing sugar mixed with water to create a simple icing just for the prettiness factor.
Just worth baking for the smells...but they taste pretty good. You should try some next Christmas... I think I've started a tradition in the mouse house.