Tuesday, 17 May 2016

(Not) ginger snap biscuits


The British apparently like nothing more than a nice cup of tea and a biscuit; certainly more than all that genital based unpleasantness in the bedroom. I know I need one right now (a biscuit!), having just zested and juiced eighteen lemons. 

You see, I wanted ginger biscuits to go with my new lemon posset dessert. I considered the ginger snap/nut - one of the UK's most popular crunch - but I've always found them the baked equivalent of a manhole cover, sometimes needing massive molar mastication to break the things. No, for the quivering, light, lemon posset, I wanted something delicate and flavoursome but with the bite and bake of Britain's favourite biscuit.*

Biscuit is an prime example of semantic shift. Stick with it - you know I love a little etymological tangent. Biscuit means twice baked in French. This would be more like an Italian biscotti now: a lump of dough is flat baked and then sliced and rebaked to a heart stabbing hardness. In the UK, a biscuit is a flat, crisp unleavened thing. In the USA it's a tall, soft cake, more like our savoury scone; often served with gravy. What they call gravy can be a white creamy sauce too, studded with bacon and sausage. It's a good thing an ocean divides us.

I made these thin and delicate but there's no need for that really. Leave the mix thick by all mean, just remember to increase the baking times. You can let them crisp up or eat them soft and chewy like cookies.


Ginger Biscuits
Makes at least 30 (round ones as above)

Beat together 175g caster sugar, 1 egg, 2 egg whites, a teaspoon of ground ginger, four tablespoons of the syrup from a jar of stem ginger and 100g of soft butter. Then add 350g of self raising flour and mix well. 

Take three knobs of the stem ginger and cut up very finely. Stir into the mix. These create tiny pockets of deep gingerness to be tongue discovered.

Taste. If you want a more gingery taste, add more ground ginger. You should have a sticky paste. Roll about a third of the mix between two sheets of baking paper (or silicon sheets if you have them) until it's only a few millimetres thick, then transfer to a flat baking sheet. Remove the top layer of paper. Some mix will adhere but this doesn't matter; just scrape it off and reuse. You can make them much thicker if you want but this will obviously need a longer bake at 180°C. Timings depend on thickness.



Bake at 200°C for 7 minutes. The top should be golden brown. Cut the still soft biscuit into your shapes of choice using cutters or just a knife. Carefully turn the pieces over and return to the oven for three more minutes to dry and brown the bottoms.




This is an underbaked bottom (right). The left is what it should look like.
These are versatile biscuits but they will go soft after a couple of days. Not a problem if they're just to go with coffee but you can, anyway, 'refresh' them with a three minute bake in a 180°C oven. Once cool they will be crisp again. That's the official difference between cake and biscuit, by the way. Did you know this? Cakes go hard when stale; biscuits go soft. Hence Jaffa Cakes.


*An outright mendacity. Sorry. The ginger snap/nut is in fact only the country's eighth favourite biscuit it was revealed in some nonsense poll probably commissioned by the people who make Hob-Nobs.


Served here with lemon posset



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