Gingernut biscuits

The aromatic warmth of ginger and cinnamon gives these traditional gingernut biscuits a spicy edge.

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I’m a regular Sunday afternoon baker. There’s something about having a stretch of free time, the measuring and mixing, the warmth of the oven and the irresistible aroma of batter and dough being magically transformed into cakes and biscuits that I find centring and reassuring.

Sunday baking equals Monday treats for my work colleagues, and distributing baked goods is my way of helping to take the brutal edge off the beginning of the working week. I do what I can.

I take requests, too. (My salted peanut butter biscuits have had many encores.) My colleague Monique told me about her mother’s gingernut biscuits and asked me to make them. I did and they were spectacular. So this recipe has provenance: it comes to you from Trish George, via her daughter and me.

I was intrigued by a line in Trish’s recipe: you cook the biscuits for 8 minutes, take them out, “tap tray on bench” and return them to the oven. I had no idea what the purpose of this step was, but I’m a good boy and I do what I’m told.

In those first 8 minutes, the biscuits both spread and rise to perfect, pale domes. Tapping the tray against the bench knocks the air out of them, making them collapse into discs, and that’s what gives these biscuits their distinctive, crinkly look. It surprised me the first time I made them and still delights me every time.

For my American readers who don’t keep golden syrup (Lyle’s is a US brand, if you want track it down), you can substitute maple syrup or light molasses.

I’ve only made a couple of tweaks to Trish’s recipe. I use a 50-50 mix of white and muscovado sugar for the depth the unprocessed sugar brings; it also means the dough will be very soft so you will have to leave it in the fridge for half an hour to let it firm up and be workable. I also added a spoonful of grated fresh ginger because I always have a knob of ginger hanging around and amping up ginger never hurts.


Gingernut biscuits

 

Makes about 30 biscuits.

125g (4 oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
125g (4 oz) light muscovado sugar (or light brown sugar)
125g (1 stick) butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1 egg 250g (2 cups) plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon pinch salt

Place the sugars, butter, golden syrup and fresh ginger in a saucepan over medium heat until melted together and well combined. Set aside, leaving it to cool.

Measure the remaining ingredients into a bowl and stir together with a balloon whisk. Mix an egg into the cooled sugar-butter mixture.

Pour the saucepan of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry and mix well.

Cool the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes or until it's firm enough to be handled.

Set your oven to 160°C (320°F).

Roll tablespoon-sized balls of the dough and place on baking trays about 5cm (2 inches) apart. Do not flatten.

Bake for 8 minutes, then remove the tray from the oven and tap on bench to deflate the biscuits. Bake for another 7 minutes.

Let the biscuits cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack.