The Scottish town of Dunkeld is perfectly charming, and has a fantastic little bakery just across from the River Tay. Aran Bakery’s new cookbook is filled with recipes for pastries, cakes, and even frittatas, breads, and cocktails for brunch. We love this iced gingerbread recipe, which is piled high with a thick laker of Swiss buttercream icing. What a fabulous holiday treat!
You might see a few ingredients that you don’t know here. Treacle is sort of a British molasses syrup and the mixed spice is a combination of spices that include cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. You can find both online easily, then get to baking!
Iced gingerbread is the first cake we baked at Aran, and an Angus original. A firm favourite and a very familiar bake if you have a Scottish granny. This recipe is for Ali Robb, who without fail will comment if I have been a bit stingy with the amount of buttercream.
Get more recipes from Aran Bakery in The Taste Issue 2 and Aran: Recipes and Stories from a Bakery in the Heart of Scotland
Aran Bakery's Iced Gingerbread
- 150 g (5 1⁄4 oz) unsalted butter
- 200 g (7 oz/11⁄4 cups) golden syrup
- 125 g (4 1⁄2 oz/2/3 cup) light brown sugar
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 200 g (7 oz/1 1⁄4 cups) treacle
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 300 g (10 1⁄2 oz/2 1⁄2 cups) plain all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 250 g (8 3⁄4 oz/1 cup whole) full-fat milk
- chopped stem ginger and edible flowers, to decorate (optional)
- 4 egg whites
- 300 g (10½ oz/1½ cups) caster superfine sugar
- 400 g (14 oz) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 140oC (280oF/Gas 3). Grease and line a loaf tin.
- Weigh out the butter, syrup, treacle, sugar and spices into a large saucepan and melt over a medium heat until you have a smooth and well combined mixture. Set aside to cool. Once the syrup and butter has cooled, whisk in the eggs and milk. If you do this while the mix is too hot it will scramble the eggs, so it is worth being patient for this.
- Weigh out the flour and bicarb in a large bowl and whisk in the wet mixture. When combining the wet and dry ingredients, do this for as short a time as possible, until just combined. If you mix the batter excessively, the end result can be a little tougher than you want, so always err on the side of caution. Pour the finished batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for about 45–50 minutes, sometimes longer. It is ready when the cake springs back after being lightly pressed or a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
- To finish you can either top with Swiss buttercream, or simply leave plain. A lemon icing would work well also. We like to decorate with slivers of chopped stem ginger in the shop and a few yellow pansies, but it is totally up to creative interpretation. I would be quite happy to enjoy a slab of this with a cuppa and no additions whatsoever.
- Weigh the eggs whites and the sugar into a metal or glass bowl. I like to do this in the metal bowl of my free-standing mixer as you will be using this later on, but you can of course use any heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan half filled with water and bring to the boil. Whisk the eggs and sugar together over the heat until you have a white, creamy mixture that is warm and smooth when rubbed between two fingers (this means the sugar has completely dissolved).
- Remove from the heat and using a free-standing mixer or hand-held mixer, whisk together for 10 minutes or until cooled, pale and glossy. Turn the mixer down to a medium speed and add the butter, cube by cube. You want to do this slowly so that the mixture doesn’t split. It should take you roughly 5 minutes to add all of the butter.
- Finally, add the vanilla and salt and beat until you have a glossy spreadable mixture. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If you are making this ahead, you will need to bring the mixture to room temperature and beat again on a high speed in order to make it silky again.