As I’ve mentioned previously, I enjoy a brief. Be it one or two ingredients or a specific bake, a commission gives me a challenge (and removes some of the pressure of making a decision on what to make).
My latest request was for some sort of ginger biscuits. Fine. I am partial to ginger and I haven’t made anything similar up to now, so I was very happy to oblige. But which of the million ginger biscuit recipes was I going to trust?
It was during this research phase that I discovered Felicity Cloake. She has a series on the Guardian called “How to cook the perfect…” where she tests several recipes, explains the pros and cons of each according to a set of criteria and finally shares the recipe for the “perfect” version. “How to make perfect ginger nut biscuits” is one of her titles. She puts a host of baking greats through their paces, including Mary Berry, Delia Smith, Mrs Beeton and Justin Gellatly.
Weighing up the various recipes according to criteria such as spice, sugar and baking is exactly the approach I would like to take if I had more time (read: patience). How wonderful to have somebody to do it all for me. Felicity, I salute you!
- Felicity’s instructions are so clear that it was really easy to follow this recipe. The fact that she also explains why she has decided to use a certain ingredient/quantity/technique means that if you know just how you like your ginger nuts, you can make the right tweaks quite easily.
- I made sure that I gave the dough a bit of a knead after I chilled it so that it was easier to roll out.
- Satisfyingly, I managed to use almost all of the dough to make very neat biscuits. I used the small amount of scraps that were left to make a delightful smiley face. Though I think that doing it on purpose is really cheating when it comes to baking faces into things!
- Forget shop-bought ginger nuts. These biscuits are darker, chewier and far, far more delicious.
- The globs of crystallised ginger are joyful little surprises.
- Treacle gives the biscuits their rich colour, but also adds a flavour reminiscent of gooey Jamaica ginger cake.
- Most importantly, the consumer verdict: very good! I think, actually, “like little glittery poos” was the immediate reaction (I had sprinkled liberally with gold edible glitter for a touch of glamour). They must have been a hit though, as the majority of them mysteriously vanished, tucked into my guests’ pockets for the journey home.
- Baking lessons learnt:
- Felicity Cloake will try out loads of recipes so you don’t have to. She’s a keeper.
- Kneading dough between chilling and rolling out makes it far more manageable.
- Physical progress:
- Nothing too challenging here, except perhaps the kneading/rolling out process. Glorious!
This bake, I have been mostly listening to:
I have just stumbled upon this chap. Acoustic guitar, mellow voice, folky vibe; what’s not to like?!
Caroline Crimson x