"Ah, Mrs. Corry. A story for you.
Your daughters was shorter than you.
But they grew."
My daughter has asked me if she could have some stars to eat - gosh! How fanciful of the child, I thought to myself. Alas, it became clear after a while that it was not a leap of imagination that had made her long for the stars - but those awful frosted 'Lucky Charms' adverts on TV that had done it.
I find this type of cereal offensive for two reasons - One, there are so many lovely things to have for breakfast… Porridge with your choice of topping, muesli, yoghurt, fruit, a myriad of breads and pastries, eggs a dozen ways, pancakes, beautiful bacon or a nice bit of artisan pudding - why would anyone want a box of cardbord coated in sugar?
The other reason is, of course, that the character on the box is offensive to all Irish people, because none of the leprachauns that live near me look anything like him!
It did remind me, though, of a story I read as a child 'Mary Poppins'. In the books, Mrs Corry and her two "great galumphing giraffes" of daughters Annie & Fannie, ran a bakery. Mrs Corry had exceptionally long fingers, made of sticks of barley-sugar which she would snap off and hand out as treats to the children who were visiting her shop. They sold pieces of " ... gingerbread so studded with gilt stars that the shop itself seemed to be faintly lit by them." At night and under the cover of darkness, all three Corry's would paste the gingerbread stars into the night sky." I loved that book and must have read it a dozen times.
So, here is my recipe for gingerbread - stars from the night sky are entirely optional.
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour
50g soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 tablespoons treacle
1 egg lightly beaten
Mix together the dry ingredients. Melt the butter with the syrup and treacle and stir into the dry ingredients with the egg and milk. Spoon into a greased and lined 18 cm/7 in cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 160ºC/325ºF for 1 hour until just springy to touch. Allow to cool a little and turn out to cool completely on a wire rack. This is the old style of ginger cake that will be much improved after keeping wrapped in an airtight container for 3 days to 1 week! Serve warm with custard or with toffee sauce - or go mad and serve with both!
115g unsalted butter
115g light muscovado sugar
140ml double cream
Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened and darkened in colour.
To serve, cut the gingerbread into squares and pour or drizzle over the toffee sauce. Add stars to taste.