Spicy Gingerbread with Limoncello Icing and a Giveaway #55


Gingerbread is almost synonymous with Christmas and making some to hang on the tree is something I aspire to each year. This year, I’ve actually done it. Not that we have a tree to hang any on, but I’m hoping that the friends we are giving them to will.

Reading through a review copy of What to Bake & How to Bake It, I noticed a recipe for iced gingerbread cookies that used treacle as a variation. I find the word treacle very hard to resist – something to do with childhood memories of my mother’s treacle pudding, I imagine. Decision made: I would knock up some gingerbread. I followed the recipe almost exactly, adding only a little chocolate (of course) and a few additional spices. A pinch of black pepper for additional warmth was needed I thought as well as some allspice for Vanesther’s Spice Trail and some nutmeg.

What to Bake and How to Bake It by Jane Hornby (published by Phaidon Press at £19.95), is a rather beautiful book. It’s quite a large hardback and has a turquoise textured paper cover that makes me want to stroke it. Two matching turquoise bookmarks add distinction and there are plenty of gorgeous pictures to admire. It appears to be more a work of art than a manual. It’s certainly a book to treasure.

As the title suggests, this book is aimed principally at those who are new to baking or who require a confidence boost. Each recipe is spread over four to six pages, with lots of step-by-step aerial photography and accompanying instructions. Ah, so it is a manual, albeit a rather lovely one. Methodologies, terms and equipment are covered at the beginning and there are plenty of tips and tricks to be found throughout. Anyone working through a few of these recipes would learn pretty much everything they needed to turn out fabulous, cakes, breads, biscuits, pies and desserts. Despite this, I think the book is also useful to the more experienced baker; most of us still have something to learn. Creating a Swiss roll is one of my bêtes noirs, so maybe I’ll be able to crack it with the steps shown here.

There are fifty recipes in total and although the classics are represented, there is plenty here to keep  the more experienced baker interested and inspired. Shortbread is covered for example, but orange, lavender, pecan and chocolate versions are also given. I have my eye on the malted chocolate birthday cake as I’m a sucker for a malteser and if I hadn’t been ill in the run-up to Christmas, I would have made the pistachio and fig biscotti which sounds exotic and comforting in equal measure. Other bakes that might restore me to health include: blueberry-cinnamon crumb cake, cranberry stollen and Linzer cookies.

This is how I made:

Spicy Gingerbread with Limoncello Icing

  • Melted 110g Rodda’s salted butter in a large pan with 200g dark brown sugar, 2 tbsp treacle and 25g dark chocolate.
  • Allowed to cool a little then beat in a duck egg (large hen’s egg would be fine).
  • Beat in 2 drops Holy Lama cinnamon extract (2 tsp ground cinnamon), a drop of black pepper extract and a drop of nutmeg extract.
  • Sifted in 150g wholemeal flour and 200g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp allpice and a heaped tsp ground ginger.
  • Mixed until just combined, then left in my cold kitchen to firm up for an hour.
  • Gathered the mixture together to form a ball of dough and rolled out on a floured surface to about the thickness of a £1 coin.
  • Cut various shapes from it, rerolling the leftovers again and again until the dough was all used up.
  • Placed biscuits on a lined baking tray and baked at 180C for 7 minutes – mine were quite small and larger biscuits would need a couple of minutes or so longer.
  • Used a chopstick to make holes for threading whilst the biscuits were still hot from the oven, then removed them to a wire rack to cool.
  • Mixed 3 heaped tbsp icing sugar with just enough limoncello to make a thick, but slightly runny icing.
  • Piped this onto my biscuits and left them to dry.
  • Made about 80 biscuits.

The biscuits smelt wonderful, both in and out of the oven and were as warming and delicious as I’d hoped. The touch of limoncello icing gave an added note of sophistication. They may not have looked very sophisticated, but I’m blaming the flu virus for that. CT and I quickly polished off all the rejects and the rest got packed into bags for gifts.


I am sending these biscuits of to Vanesther over at Bangers & Mash for The Spice Trail, which is allspice this month.


Some are also winging their way to Karen over at Lavender and Lovage who has appropriately chosen sugar and spice for this month’s Cooking with Herbs.

Phaidon Press has also kindly agreed to give one of my readers a copy of What to Bake & How to Bake It. To be in with a chance of winning, please fill in the Gleam widget below. You will need to leave a comment on this post, answering the question, which then gives you additional chances to enter if you so wish. Gleam will pick a winner at random from the entries received. If you are commenting anonymously, please give me some way of identifying you as I will be verifying the validity of entries. Any automated entries will be disqualified. This giveaway is only open to those with a UK postal address. Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted. Failure to do this may result in another winner being picked.


Prizes are offered and provided by Phaidon Press and Chocolate Log Blog accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of said third party.
Closing date is Monday 19 January 2014

What to Bake


  1. Leave a Reply

    22nd December 2014

    A chocolate tart! I’ve tried it a few times and it just never sets enough to slice it

  2. Leave a Reply

    23rd December 2014

    Biscuits – they seem to burn
    (Spencer Broadley)

  3. Leave a Reply

    Vohn's Vittles
    23rd December 2014

    I love lemon with gingerbread – it’s a fab flavour combination. Great recipe & your gingerbread men look scrumptious! Have a wonderful Christmas. x

  4. Leave a Reply

    Heidi Roberts
    23rd December 2014

    I love the idea of limonchello icing – should work really well with the gingerbread!

  5. Leave a Reply

    23rd December 2014

    As silly as it sounds, I always struggle with flapjack! It always turns into granola. I bake all the time, and never have issues with other recipes. I can’t work out what I’m doing wrong!

  6. Leave a Reply

    The Caked Crusader
    24th December 2014

    I love a dark and spicy gingerbread – these look great

    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year

  7. Leave a Reply

    Caroline Henaghan
    25th December 2014

    I particularly like the sound of ‘spicy’ gingerbread – will have to have a go at these over Christmas!

  8. Leave a Reply

    Lynne O'Connor
    26th December 2014

    Not exactly a problem but when I used to make flapjacks the oats would expand and overflow to make big fat flapjacks but these days they’re more like chewy biscuits

  9. Leave a Reply

    Emily Clark
    26th December 2014

    Lemon drizzle. I always get the sugar/water ratio wrong and just end up with a soggy rather than a crunchy cake!

  10. Leave a Reply

    27th December 2014

    Beautiful biscuits. I can only imagine the fab smell in your house when you baked them!

  11. Leave a Reply

    28th December 2014

    For me it was pancakes. Such a simple thing but while I was happy making much more complicated things, it took me ages to get them right.

  12. Leave a Reply

    30th December 2014

    biscuits never seem to get them quick enough before turning

  13. Leave a Reply

    31st December 2014

    Thanks so much for sharing your delicious gingerbread in December’s Spice Trail challenge. I absolutely adore gingerbread made with treacle. And isn’t What to Bake such a beautiful book – definitely one of my favourite cookbooks of 2014. Here’s to a very delicious 2015!

    • Leave a Reply

      15th January 2015

      Try equal amounts of milk and plain flour, an egg and seasoning and blitz in a liquidizer. Best left to stand. Then make sure it’s poured into a reasonable amount of sizzling hot fat that has coated the tin and cook on 200 for half hour or so

  14. Leave a Reply

    5th January 2015

    would love to make a decent swiss roll

  15. Leave a Reply

    9th January 2015

    Swiss roll – I can’t get it to roll up.

  16. Leave a Reply

    10th January 2015

    Swiss rolls, never managed to make a successful one 🙁


  17. Leave a Reply

    Kat Lucas
    11th January 2015

    Macaroons as it’s tricky to get the egg whites just right

  18. Leave a Reply

    Sara Coyne
    14th January 2015

    Perfect, I’m just getting into baking and could really use this for ideas

  19. Leave a Reply

    Lyndsey Beckford
    15th January 2015

    I just can’t do Yorkshire Puddings – maybe it’s because I only live in Yorkshire and I wasn’t born there! 🙂

  20. Leave a Reply

    sarah rees
    15th January 2015

    anything meat other than a chicken or turkey

  21. Leave a Reply

    Mike Marsh
    15th January 2015

    Brownies are more difficult than they look

  22. Leave a Reply

    15th January 2015

    I think I’ve tried all the tricks suggested over time but still find rolling a swiss roll the most challenging of tasks and it looks so simple when it is done properly.

  23. Leave a Reply

    kirsty webb
    15th January 2015

    Panacotta it would not set.
    Just a vanilla milkshake after a nugjt in the fridge.

  24. Leave a Reply

    15th January 2015

    What bake have you found tricky to master?………….baked Alaska

  25. Leave a Reply

    Sarah Heath
    15th January 2015

    Bread, it never seems to rise well.

  26. Leave a Reply

    Claire Hull
    15th January 2015

    Chocolate truffles-it’s hard to get the temperatures right

  27. Leave a Reply

    15th January 2015

    Swiss roll – it doesn’t!

  28. Leave a Reply

    Louise Lumsden
    15th January 2015

    bread, I can knead it forever and it comes out of the oven looking fabulous but loaves are always like bricks & rolls are like rocks

  29. Leave a Reply

    15th January 2015

    Cinnamon buns they went all hard and the cinnamon was clunky

  30. Leave a Reply

    Helen Humphries
    15th January 2015

    I cook a lot of wheat/gluten free but this works much better with certain bakes/recipes than others and can be tricky.

  31. Leave a Reply

    louise ryves
    15th January 2015

    I can never quite get chocolate roulade right

  32. Leave a Reply

    15th January 2015

    My Christmas cakes always seem to wet in the middle. This year I got it right finally 🙂

  33. Leave a Reply

    15th January 2015

    Family have a friend who enjoys baking as a hobby, and we enjoy the results. So rarely bake, results usually ok on occasional attempts.

    Rachel Craig

  34. Leave a Reply

    Lydia Frew
    16th January 2015

    Surprisingly, cupcakes. The tops are always really pointy and the fan in my oven is so fierce they go all lopsided. So I end up with wonky volcanoes.

  35. Leave a Reply

    Paula Readings
    16th January 2015

    Biscuits, they are either extremely thin & crispy or ‘cakey’ cant seem to get the consistency right, no matter what type I try to make.

  36. Leave a Reply

    16th January 2015

    sponge cakes i very good at making cup cakes
    lisa ann tebbutt

  37. Leave a Reply

    16th January 2015

    Struggling with the ever so simple cookie! Can do chou pastry – but a chocolate cookie will either be raw or will break your teeth :s

  38. Leave a Reply

    leanne perrett
    16th January 2015

    i always manage tyo over cook my cupcakes the simplest thing to bake i can do other stuff fine tho

  39. Leave a Reply

    16th January 2015

    Getting a good result with a cake mix that is boiled before baking

  40. Leave a Reply

    hannah walker
    16th January 2015

    Anything with caramel. I just can’t for the life of me cook caramel arghh!

  41. Leave a Reply

    17th January 2015

    Chocolate fondants, the middle is never gooey.

  42. Leave a Reply

    17th January 2015

    Love to try some of these recipes

    trevor linvell

  43. Leave a Reply

    zoe g
    17th January 2015

    fudge for some reason it always goes too hard

  44. Leave a Reply

    17th January 2015

    Lemon tart…It just doesn’t get the right consistency

  45. Leave a Reply

    Caro Walker
    17th January 2015

    My chocolate brownies are always hit and miss but still get eaten so may be not so bad!

  46. Leave a Reply

    L Jenkins
    17th January 2015

    I struggle to make Victoria sponges that rise much!

  47. Leave a Reply

    Michelle Addy
    17th January 2015

    2 b honest i havn’t done much baking but part of my new year resolution is 2 start doing more

  48. Leave a Reply

    amy jupp
    18th January 2015

    cheesecake. I just can seem to get it no set right. baked or non baked

  49. Leave a Reply

    Spencer Wright
    18th January 2015

    Our new year’s resolution was to try do more cooking & baking. Results have been good so far, this book would help enormously 🙂

  50. Leave a Reply

    18th January 2015

    I find it all difficult to master, but I keep trying!!
    Claire D

  51. Leave a Reply

    Tim Woolfenden
    18th January 2015

    Pastry is always a struggle

  52. Leave a Reply

    Lynda Shrubb
    18th January 2015

    Scones! Other things,no problems. Think I’ll have to give them up as a bad job 🙁

  53. Leave a Reply

    Carly Elford
    18th January 2015

    My Victoria Sponge is dreadful!

  54. Leave a Reply

    18th January 2015

    anything with puff pastry, it never puffs for me.

  55. Leave a Reply

    Joanne Benham
    18th January 2015

    shortbread, never quite crispy enough or burnt!

  56. Leave a Reply

    18th January 2015

    scones my hands are always too warm!!

  57. Leave a Reply

    18th January 2015

    I’ve given up on macaroons … just can’t get them right !

  58. Leave a Reply

    18th January 2015

    Brandy Snaps always go completely wrong for me!

    kirstyjfox AT yahoo DOT com

  59. Leave a Reply

    Pam Francis Gregory
    18th January 2015

    Pineapple upside down cake

  60. Leave a Reply

    lorraine evemy
    18th January 2015

    gluten free bread….could only be used as a door stop it was as heavy and dense as a brick;)

  61. Leave a Reply

    18th January 2015

    meringue! I used to be able to bake one to perfection but it fails every single time despite using all the tricks in the book!!

  62. Leave a Reply

    Charmian Filewood
    19th January 2015

    For some reason I’m not very good with scones lol I think I over handle them

  63. Leave a Reply

    19th January 2015

    Def macaroons! Think i’m getting there now. So yummy so that made me keep going 🙂 @LyndaBrown5

  64. Leave a Reply

    19th January 2015

    profiteroles, i used to make them all the time when i was younger and never seem to get them right anymore!

  65. Leave a Reply

    Lorraine Crawford
    19th January 2015

    I can’t get carrot cake right, it’s always soggy in the middle but perfect at the edge, if I cooked it any longer, otside would be over cooked!

  66. Leave a Reply

    Helen Craigs
    19th January 2015

    Pastry is my real problem!

  67. Leave a Reply

    19th January 2015

    baked cheesecake, the tin has always leaked no matter how much I wrap it in tinfoil!

  68. Leave a Reply

    19th January 2015

    Profiteroles – usually it takes 3 attempts but I never know what I’ve done differently when it actually works! Third time lucky maybe! 🙂

  69. Leave a Reply

    19th January 2015

    pavlovas – i can never get these right!

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