Gingerbread whirls

T

his weekend, a message popped up on my phone screen that set off a domino run of panic in my mind.

“I was thinking this morning…”, said one of my closest friends, the one I got to know in the school library when we were both chubby little book nerds, “Can we have a Christmassy London weekend?”

A moment’s consideration and a flip through my mental diary later, I realised I only have one weekend free between now and 2015. How did that happen? How can I fit everything in? When did I become a person who says, Sorry, I’m all booked up till next year?

Gingerbread whirls // The Dinner BellMe and two friends went to a recording of Live at the Apollo recently, and came away utterly bamboozled. The line-up – predominantly, white, male, middle-aged and middle class – made the same jokes, mostly digs at their wives and children and young people. One of the sets centered around being young and perpetually drunk and irresponsible.

Through every quip about splashing cash and getting wasted every night, we frowned at each other, utterly perplexed. I don’t know anyone who lives up to that stereotype.

It’s weird to think that overdrafts and stumbling in at 6am are what’s expected of twenty-somethings. I see it when people ask, on a Monday morning, when the little staff kitchen at work is filled with bleary eyes and double-scoop coffees, “How was your weekend?”, waiting to hear tales of debauchery, although in reality I’m bursting to say “IT WAS BRILLIANT. I slept till 10am and finished a book!” Instead, it feels like there’s an obligation to toss aside the small things, to sift through those 50-something hours to find any nuggets of what is expected.

Gingerbread whirls // The Dinner BellThe thing is, we’re all weirdly in-between. Two years out of university but still only a few metres into navigating the ocean that is the modern job market; trying to put money aside for a house, maybe, at some point in the future, but still working out where we belong. More pub than club, but not yet risotto over burgers. And more hardworking than any stand-up will ever admit.

I’m lucky to have a group of talented, driven friends, always tipping each other off and encouraging to pushpushpush. They’re writing books and making records and on a never-ending quest to keep learning. They’re people whose diaries are full and have pages dedicated to long to-do lists, and yes, Sorry, I’m all booked up till next year. Contrary to the assumptions of those comedians, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So when those elusive free weekends come around, you’ll find me doing all the things that get sifted out: fingers curled around a mug of hot chocolate, surrounded by notebooks; movie nights with friends; and getting some quality time with butter and sugar. Heavy with the spices we so treasure in the winter months, these gingerbread whirls are sure to feature, along with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Inspired by Mr Kipling. Yields approximately 12 whirls

Ingredients

75g icing sugar
225g butter/margarine
Few drops vanilla extract
0.5tsp treacle
225g flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
4tsp ground ginger
1tsp cinnamon
0.25tsp nutmeg
0.75tsp mixed spice

Filling
70g butter
150g icing sugar
A dribble of vanilla extract
0.25tsp ground ginger
+ milk to loosen
+ icing sugar

Method

  1. Line two baking trays. In a medium-sized bowl, cream the icing sugar and butter/margarine.*
  2. Mix in the vanilla extract and treacle. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and spices, then fold into the butter mixture.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, and pipe out rosettes onto the baking trays. Preheat oven to 180C and transfer the baking trays to the fridge to chill for half an hour.
  4. While the rosettes chill, combine the butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and ginger for the filling. You might want to add a splash of milk to loosen it.
  5. When chilled, bake for around 15-20 minutes, until a deep amber colour. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, sandwich the rosettes together with the filling and finish with a dusting of icing sugar.
* I’d advise using a fork to incorporate them before using a mixer, to avoid billowing icing sugar clouds.
Filed under All Recipes, Autumn/Winter, Biscuits & Cookies

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I'm that person who doesn't let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door. I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

4 Comments

  1. Beautiful writing and all too true. I read an article recently that one creative company has a “weekend off” on a monday morning, where they all argue to claim the best weekend. I would never win, but I love my weekends! I love this recipe too!

    • Hannah Jade

      Oh man, that is *not* the point of weekends! Everyone I work with is surprised when I go out, I’m notoriously boring these days 😉
      (& thank yooou!)

  2. Lynsey Taylor

    I can completely relate to this – it feels like all young adults have to act a certain way whereas I am much more motivated when I surround myself with good, hard working and driven people. Life is short got to make the most of the little time we have and my idea of fun is not being drunk of a weekend wasting money on alcohol that could more likely or not go on food! L x

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