There’s a long history of pepparkakor (gingersnap or gingerbread) in Sweden. It made its way from Germany in the 15th century and stood the test of time partly because it keeps so well.
Traditionally honey was used to sweeten the cake, but I’ve replaced it with treacle, which adds a warming liquorice flavour.
This gingerbread is also more grown-up, with its robust rye and wholewheat spelt flour and generous helping of spices, but the sweetness of the ice cream and pears balances it out.
Pear and gingerbread pie / Pepparkakspaj med päron
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
65g (6oz) butter, plus extra for greasing the pie dish
80g (3oz) demerara sugar, plus 1tbsp for sprinkling
75ml (2½fl oz) treacle
225g (8oz) wholewheat spelt flour
100g (3½oz) rye flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
A pinch of fine sea salt
For the filling
1ltr (1¾pt) good-quality vanilla ice cream
8 small pears (about 600g/ 1lb 5oz)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. First, for the filling, scoop out 8 neat balls of ice cream. Place on a small baking tray and put back into the freezer.
Cube the butter and put into a medium pan with the sugar and treacle. Stir until the butter is melted, then set aside to cool.
In a bowl, mix the flours, spices and salt. Pour in the slightly cooled, melted butter and bring together to a firm dough.
Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to 3mm thick. Cut out 12 tree shapes with a cookie cutter and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Reserve the remaining dough for topping the pears. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of demerara sugar over the biscuits and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until firm to the touch.
Grease a pie dish with butter. Peel, core and thinly slice the pears and place in the pie dish, then crumble the remainder of the dough on top.
Put into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. The pastry should darken and crisp up on top.
Place the frozen scoops of ice cream on top of the crumble. Position the trees around the ice cream and serve immediately.
Top tip / You can omit making the pear crumble and simply roll out the dough to make biscuits.
Get ahead / The biscuits will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks. The crumble can be frozen if well wrapped. Reheat from frozen for 30 minutes at 170°C/fan 150°C/gas 3.
Originally featured in The Daily Mail.
Recipe from my latest cookbook The Little Swedish Kitchen. Order it on amazon now!
Image: David Loftus | Styling: Frankie Unsworth | Prop Styling: Linda Berlin