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My morning routine is one of military precision. My alarm goes off at 6am, I jump out of bed, pull my lycra on and lace my trainers before washing my face, making my bed and taking my food prep for the day out of the fridge. I leave the house at 6:25am and walk to the train station, jumping on the 6:32am for two stops before hitting the gym for an hour. I push hard, counting down the last 10 reps of all my sets through the burn, beads of sweat running down my forehead and landing in tiny pools by my feet. This routine is finished off with a hot shower and a protein shake en route to work, before getting one coffee in me and breakfast (usually two scrambled eggs with salmon, or a banana oat smoothie – 40g oats, 1 banana, 4 egg whites, 200ml almond milk) to set me up nicely for the day ahead.

It sounds funny but when I don’t go to the gym, I actually feel lethargic and sluggish. My body is entirely dictated by my “early bird” circadian rhythm. That an extra hour in bed means everything’s out of whack and my energy levels are lower than usual, similar to that of jet lag. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to pull myself from those warm covers when the wind is howling and the rain is coming down at force on my window panes, but I feel so much better for it if I manage to make it.

There are mornings however when no matter how much you’d like to go or feel you “should” go, you need to listen to your body. It’s important to rest and give yourself time to recover and those mornings are the ones that feel like a real treat. It might not be my usual routine, but I’ll still get out of bed at 6am and make myself a cafetière of an Industry Beans Australian coffee in my PJs, topped up with oat milk before getting back into bed. The process of grinding my beans and letting it brew is one of life’s little pleasures. I’ll then read for an hour before showering and getting myself ready for work.

Sometimes I wish I had time to make breakfast treats like blueberry scones, cinnamon buns, American pancakes or French toast because I simply love baking and if I could bake all day I totally would! That’s why occasionally having a baked loaf to hand can make the morning seem that little more luxurious. It’s a small treat toasting a slice under the grill and lathering on lashings of butter before demolishing entirely. A simple Madeira cake, or banana bread – or in the colder months, a sticky gingerbread crammed with Chinese stem ginger. This is honestly the gooiest, stickest loaf you’ll ever make. The batter looks super liquidy when poured into your tin but don’t worry – in an hour it’ll be a springy sponge oozing with treacle and syrup.

Sticky Gingerbread

225g plain flour
1tsp mixed spice
3tsp ground ginger
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp salt
140g Chinese stem ginger
1 egg
285ml milk
85g butter
85g black treacle
85g golden syrup
115g demerara sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly butter a 1kg loaf tin. Line the tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift the flour, spice, bicarb and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix until evenly combined.
  3. Finely chop the ginger and then add to the spiced flour.
  4. Beat together the milk and the egg then set aside.
  5. In a small saucepan, gently heat the butter, treacle, syrup and sugar, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted. Pour the contents in the flour, followed by the milk and egg.
  6. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth and mixed well.
  7. Pour into your prepared loaf tin and place in the centre of you oven for 30mins. After 30mins, cover with foil and cook for another 30-40mins.
    N.B. The foil will stop your loaf from burning! It should be well-risen and springy to the touch when it’s ready to come out, and a knife should come out clean.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Once cold, wrap tightly in silver foil – the flavours will increase if left to mature for a few days!
December 18, 2019