Thursday, 29 September 2011

Flying; or, the best gingerbread ever, with a few hints on cookery

I have been Flying along on the housework front, you may be glad to hear (or not as the case may be), and am now feeling quite overcome with heat and exhaustion and am in dire need of Cake.

Looming domesticity
Today I did step up a gear - the Bedtime Routine is cracked (clean up the house just before bed - 20 mins - piece of cake), then the Gratitude Diary (thank goodness I can lie down now), and the sinks are shiny, shiny, so this morning I went a little further and put on lace-up shoes.

I think the Fly Lady's shoes would be cleaner (and probably shiny)
The Fly Lady is quite firm about this, and insists that you get up in the morning, get fully dressed, including Lacing Up Your Shoes, but I in my innocence and ignorance started Flying wearing ballet pumps. (They do have bows, permanently tied, and somehow I thought that I could get away with this.)

Have very High Hopes
But no, we Stay-at-Home Mummies (does running a business from home validate or invalidate this epithet?) have a nasty tendency to end up on the sofa if we can kick our shoes off easily, not to mention leaving said shoes lying around cluttering up the place . . . and yes, she's right, yesterday afternoon I suddenly found myself on the sofa, shoes on the floor, on the way to nodding off - and I wasn't even in the right Zone.

I had washed the mattress cover and patchwork quilts from our bed when I should really have been decluttering the sitting room where there are cupboards which have not seen the cold light of day in aeons (especially the yarn cupboard, which has to be approached under cover of darkness because it all has a nasty habit of tumbling out and revealing its excess when I dare to open the door).

Held together firmly
So it was lace-up shoes today, and my lovely Dottie Angel apron wrap to hold it all in - I have found that there is nothing like a nice pinny to make me feel domestically competent, but I am afraid that I peaked too early, in spite of Having High Hopes (no 1 on the list of Dottie Angel Dos) on the housework front.

Calming Dottie Angel traycloth and cookery book accessorized by food stains 
There is nothing like scrubbing down the B&B to bring on severe cravings for Tea and Cake, and so I rustled up some of the most delicious gingerbread you could imagine (for the children, of course), baked in the Aga, but it works just as well in other ovens.

Cake tin
This recipe goes back a long way - I won't tell you how many years but here are its beginnings in my school cookery book, or Domestic Science as it was termed - nothing creative about domesticity there, Being a Housewife was an Important Job (scientific rather than airy-fairy), and a full-time one at that (I am beginning to think that Being a Fly Lady is a full-time job as well, and am already looking forward to my next holiday).

Inspiring drawing of gingerbread
Please don't be put off by the fact that I only got a B+ for this - I have refined the original concept over many decades, and would draw your attention to the A I received for my macaroni cheese, which went into the Open Day Display (I think my drawing of the toast garnish is quite inspired, almost as inspired as my drawing of the gingerbread squares).

A very wonderful drawing of toast triangles
And what about my breakfast tray? There was no mucking about there, we girls were taught to warm the pot and put half a glace cherry on our grapefruits before laying up a tray to impress invalids and husbands as we tripped upstairs to give them breakfast in bed. And didn't it all come in handy for running a B&B?

Model breakfast tray for model housewife
So here is your recipe for lovely sticky gingerbread made in the Aga (or whatever cooker takes your fancy). Being so ancient, the quantities are imperial - I have given metric conversions but not tested them.

Delicious gingerbread

8 oz (225g) self-raising wholemeal flour
1 level teaspoon (tsp) bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp mixed spice
4 oz (110g) unsalted butter
2 oz (50g) dark muscovado sugar
4 oz (110g) black treacle
4 oz (110g) golden syrup
2 eggs
1/4 pint (150ml) milk

Shallow rectangular baking tin, preferably non-stick, approximate size 8in x 11in (20cm x 28cm) - can be a little bigger as this will just make shallower pieces of gingerbread - greased and base lined with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

Sift dry ingredients (flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and spice) into a large bowl and mix together, making a well in the centre.
Melt butter, sugar, treacle and syrup together gently in a saucepan - do not allow to boil or you will have toffee instead of gingerbread.
Pour the melted mixture into the centre of the dry ingredients and mix together gradually until smooth.
Beat the eggs into the milk and add to the mixture gradually, beating well as you go.
Pour the mixture into the tin (it is quite a wet mixture) and make sure the top is level.

In the Aga (two oven):  put the grid shelf on the floor of the top oven, and the plain shelf on the second set of runners, and sit the tin on the grid shelf. Turn once half way through.
Conventional ovens: 325F/gas 3-4/160-170C (fan ovens tend to need a lower temperature).

Cooking time: 35-40 mins. The gingerbread is ready when it is beginning to shrink from the sides of the tin, and the top springs back when pressed (in the centre) lightly with your finger .

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack. Cut into big pieces or small as your fancy (or greed) takes you when completely cool if you can wait that long.

Time for tea

My cookery book says serve hot for tea - yum!

Look how Pomona has become rotund with grief

[I must stop baking so much cake as the Ploughboy is heading back to university next week, and the General marches off to be a fresher this weekend. I shall become positively rotund with grief if I carry on like this; I thought sending off number two would be a piece of cake in itself, but as the fatal day approaches I feel my heartstrings a-quiver and the tears waiting in the wings . . .  Princess Bunchy and the Aged Ps will be all alone but for the dogs and the hens and the pigs and the spiders, oh so many spiders, the feather duster has been much in play.

Shoes that mean business and a faithful friend in adversity

She tightens her apron strings and marches firmly on into the future with High Hopes and tight-laced shoes.]


Shocking Hocking said...

i am in awe of a) you have an aga (i so want one) and b) you still have your school books - lol - i used to get e's in domestic science - apparently i didn't illustrate my work well enough - should have got lessons from you!)

Annie said...

Now this is ever so slightly scary, but I have the exact same gingerbread recipe, and mine is from my school days to! (Although I typed all my recipes out in a fit of recipe tidying madness long enough ago for me to mean really typed, on a typewriter!) I wonder, were all domestic science teachers in cahoots, or did we go to the same school!

Helen Philipps said...

Such an amusing post, Pomona! I did enjoy it...your school DS book is charming (love the little drawings very much) and the gingerbread recipe is one to treasure, it looks delicious!
Helen x

Bee happy said...

Wow! you have been busy no wonder you need cake! The gingerbread you made looks awesome, save me a piece please ;)

Bee happy x
Have a delicious day!

Ps Have you entered my cushion giveaway?

KC'sCourt! said...

I am also in awe of you still having your school books! I had domestic science but never made such a luxery as ginger cake though.
Julie xxxxxxxxxxx

Amy said...

OK, all this talk of cleaning is making me feel very guilty. I did unpack the boxes that were in the corner of our bedroom since before the bathroom remodel and put them in the vanity cabinet. And I baked an apple pie, made corn chowder and did laundry. But my sink is a mess.

{Leila}Where the Orchids Grow said...

Now if I promise to brew us lots and lots of tea, will you come over to my house and help tidy up? Oh and some cake would be lovely too ;-)

greenrabbitdesigns said...

Thnaks for sharing your lovely recipe!
Domestic science - now that does take me back. :)
Vivienne x

dragonfly said...

I'm bracing myself, but I am going to click on The Flylady link. My house is severely neglected these past few months but with my deadline looming I can make excuses no longer.
I wish I'd kept my Domestic Science books!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Good to find a recipe written for my Aga - so often the temperature is just not quite right to convert. Shall try this and report back!

susan said...

You make the gingerbread and I'll make the banana cake - then we'll invite everyone around to take their shoes off and ignore any clutter! Your house or mine?

Anonymous said...

I was actually thrown out of DS by a terrifying woman we called Squarelegs, just for soaking the wooden potstands in nice soapy water (she just wanted them collected, dry, in a bath for storage) But my fish envelopes from 1959! Fantastic!! AC

faith76 said...

Will certainly be testing out that gingerbread recipe looks deeeeelish.

Leah x

Anonymous said...

Perfect drying weather for quilts this week - and all that work certainly deserves some gingerbread. Will have a go at your recipe too as I adore gingerbread!
I have my Home Eccies jotter too....scary sharing it with DD3 recently!
Oh and sending child 2 off to uni is an achievement, and I found it worse than DD1's departure! Partly as DS is 3 hrs away and although DD1 is 12 hrs away, she has family nearby. Mind you, the 2 younger ones upped thier demands on my time to fill the gap!
Heck, definitely time for cake! :)

Carol said...

I enjoyed reading that Pomona and love your Dottie Angel wrap.
I often have 'high hope' of having a clean and tidy home but they are rarely realised, now I know where I have been going wrong - I need some laceups, carpet slippers just don't cut it.
Carol xx

Felicity said...

i love your cake tin and its contents, he he! maybe i should look at the fly lady web site, i am quite bad at getting dressed straight away though i love my jammies and big woollen socks!

Emily said...

I can quite see how that rather lovely apron would help create an air of efficiency to the proceedings. All your talk of being orderly and clean is a little bit scary to me, surrounded as I am by muck and mess. Gaaah!
I have a recipe for a very similar gingerbread on my blog - it's heavenly, isn't it? My recipe came from my granny's granny, and every time I make it I think of her
Emily x

Sew,ray,me said...

Mmmm that looks amazing! I can actually taste it...drool :)
Must make....

Cheryl said...

Pomona, the fly lady gives me a headache.....:) But your gingerbread recipe is amazing and I am going to try it. I loved domestic science, really loved it, but our class was too full and they moved me to geography and I really did not like geography at all

Katy Cameron said...

Lol, who new non-lace up shoes could be so evil ;o) That gingerbread does look yummy...

Cheryl said...

I used to do Domestic Science at school. You've reminded me that our write-ups used to be graded. I do remember that you earnt a higher grade if you illustrated and lined up your numbered steps properly. Those were the days. Not sure why, but the idea of a tray for an invalid always made me smile.

Way to go on your progress with the Fly Lady. Sounds more like strides than baby steps.

Mrs. Micawber said...

And I thought it was the privilege of the worker-at-home-for-free to stay in her PJs all day if she so wished (which is what I sometimes do on my days off from paid labour in the marketplace). But there is something rather brisk and businesslike about putting on regular clothes first thing in the morning.

On my side of the pond those classes were called Home Economics - which really makes no sense at all. Domestic Science sounds much more impressive. I can't recall making anything more ambitious than chocolate chip cookies in Home Ec and we certainly didn't keep such nice detailed notebooks!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

The gingerbread looks wonderful and it's one of Dave's favorites so I'll have to make it soon.

Fading Grace said...

I cannot beleive you still have your school books, I seem to remember a big bonfire and burning all mine, when I left the establishment...I did not care too much for school...even if I had of kept them I don't think there would of been anything that yummy looking in my domestic science book. I recognized the Dottie pinny right away, it is lovely, sadly I don't think it would help me clean, I would probably want to wear it to the shops! xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Pomona,
If it wasn't because you are so very funny, I would have found this post a bit traumatic. Memories of Domestic Science bring me out in a cold sweat and I have just checked out The Fly Lady and her before bed routine and am now shell shocked! Heaven help anyone who has to live with her.
Gingerbread is OH's favourite so I'll be giving it a try.
I wonder if creosoting is in Fly Lady's morning routine. x

Little Blue Mouse said...

What a great post, you have such a way with words.
I love how everything was labelled on your tea tray; we didn't do drawings in our Domestic Science books.

Pipany said...

Darn you Pomona, I give in - I am heading off to see what this Fly Lady is all about despite my exhaustion at the thought of so much work!!! Send some gingerbread my way please!

By teh way, remiss as ever I haven't let you know that my book arrived. Sorry m'dear. It is GORGEOUS and I am feeling much spoiled...thank you! Blog post will follow x

**Anne** said...

That gingerbread looks SO GOOD! Flylady is just too bossy for me. :) I attempted to follow her ideas many moons ago, but the thought of lace up shoes to do the housework just didn't appeal to me. Slippers, flip flops, bare feet in summer, I like to be comfy. Then again, perhaps it would justify buying a new pair of shoes.....
Anne xx

Jooles said...

Well done on the housework front! and good luck on the uni front x i have found lots of homemade cake very helpful ;o)
hope it all goes well, thanks for your sweet comment
will be thinking of you x
love jooles x

Karen L R said...

such tidy handwriting! and such a fun premonition of your b&b to come. always entertaining and inspiring you are, ms pomona!xo

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Pomona,

A pretty apron you have and it sure helps one do chores.
I enjoyed reading your post and thanks for sharing the recipe of the best gingerbread. I shall try this as it looks delicious. I still cook a few recipes from my old book I got from my primary school cooking classes.

Happy weekend

Nicky said...

Gingerbread is just about my favourite! That and carrot cake! Must try your recipe - mine is M&S! Love your humour as always - you bring a real heart warming smile to my face! I am sending one off to uni next year so I will become rotund with grief too! Perhaps we could console each other at the V&A cafe!?

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love the peek into your old Domestic science book and your gingerbread looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

wendz said...

Lovely Dottie Angel wrap - they are wonderful things! Like Sophie (Fading Grace) I'd wear mine, if I had one, to the shops. Def def not to clean and work in.

And oh my word that gingerbread! We never made such good stuff in our Domestic Science classes- actually ours were called Home Economics. And we made things like bland cottage pie- as tasteless as as paper.

I shall try the recipe.

Lisa said...

How fab you still have your school books! Love, love, love your apron.
Good luck with the continuing trek of FlyLady. Gingerbread looks so good!
Lisa x

GardenofDaisies said...

I cleaned the downstairs of our house (sinks and all) and shredded a bunch of old paperwork. ( I still have a huge pile to go, but the shredder overheats if I do too much at once.) I wish I was at your house instead, so I could nibble on some of your delicious gingerbread.

janet said...

I read here a lot, but never comment ... but that Gingerbread recipe is EVIL. SOevil that it really does not like being in the open air, but uses any means possible to climb inside my stomach. Possessed by gingerbread....

Gorgeous apron!

Julie said...

Not sure I could cope with the laced up shoes all day....but maybe that is why my cupboards haven't been tidied?! I really must check out flylady - but maybe I need an extra special pretty pinny first, I'm sure that would help, and I wouldn't want to rush finding the right one! Juliex

Lola Nova said...

You are a wonder dear! I am quite amazed and a little intimidated by your exploits. I wont tell you what's going on in the Little Green Cottage these days!

I've just spent some time with the lovely Dottie Angel and know that she would be most pleased to see you so competent in your pinney!

Lastly, I am a bit bereft with longing for some of that gingerbread. It's the perfect weather for it here. Yes, I could make it, but no one here besides myself would eat it (no accounting for taste) and that would be dangerous!
Maybe I could take some to the neighbors, oh yes! That is what I'll do, I'm already looking forward to the aroma! Thank you.

Sally said...

Great post, yummy recipe (definitely going to try that for my tribe)and thank you for the trip down memory lane - I loved Domestic Science. Going off (warily) to check out the Fly Lady now!

Barbara said...

Thinking of you Pomona, don't think we ever get used to our children leaving.
Glad I could check full screen to see what it said on your apron.

All I want to do when I get up is sit in my pyjamas till I've read the newspaper. That means my feet are clothes in slippers!

Louise said...

What a great post! I've been meaning to do something like this for ages! Your school exercise book brings back many memories from my lessons in class, in my day known as Food & Nutrition. I remember, and have still got, my own typed-up recipes (complete with food stains), and I'm sure we made gingerbread! If I find it, I'll let you know! x

PS. Must make it again sometime.

gz said...

Hi, Pomona, here via Hillside Cottage.
Lovely quilts-although when I get time I tend to piece with solid colours.

I must try that gingerbread recipe!

Anonymous said...

Not only do I love your thrifty ways, but I am a FlyBaby, too! Although I am still fluttering spasmodically more than Flying; but I live in hope . . . ~ Linne

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention; I was given a copy of the text we used in Home Economics (don't know what they call it nowadays) and it was in use during my time in High School. I love old books (probably my greatest passion) and have a few dating to the late 1800s, also some early 1900s homemaking books. OK, I'll stop here (-; ~ Linne


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