After 41 years I have finally made gingerbread biscuits that pass muster. Allow me to impart my wisdom, dear friends….
2 cups / 8oz / 225g plain flour; 2 heaped teaspoons dried ginger; 1 level teaspoon dried cinnamon; 1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice; 1 level teaspoon dried nutmeg; 1 quarter teaspoon bicarbonate of soda / baking soda; 1 stick / half a cup / 4oz / 100g of salted butter; 1/2 cup/ 3oz / 75g brown sugar – not packed down; 1/4 cup / 3oz / 75g syrup – golden is best but maple is good too; 1 large egg
Soften butter and put in a mixing bowl with the brown sugar
Mix remaining dry ingredients together in a separate bowl
Mix butter and sugar and add egg when they are ready. Add syrup when the egg is combined.
Continue mixing and add dry mix one tablespoon at a time. As soon as it is all combined, stop.
Remove the dough from the bowl with as little handling as possible. Put in freezer for 45 minutes or fridge for 2 hours.
Prepare baking paper to fit baking trays / sheets. Flour thoroughly and leave on table or counter. Have a cup of tea.
Switch on the oven – 350° / 160° / gas mark 4.
Flour everything the dough will touch – hands, rolling pin etc.
Remove dough from cold and cut in half. Put one half in the fridge. Roll the other half on the baking paper to around 1/8″ / 0.5cm depth. Put on baking tray and chill in fridge while you repeat with the other half of the dough.
After 20 minutes chilling, remove from fridge and cut the dough into biscuits. And be quick – the dough is very buttery and doesn’t retain shape for long. Again work the dough one section – or tray – at a time so it stays chilled as much as possible. When the biscuits are cut and fill one tray, put it in the fridge and start work with the other dough.
Put the tray that is in the fridge on the side and replace with the other. Wait 5 minutes and put in the top of the middle of the oven. I use the middle shelf if my oven can actually be bothered getting to the correct heat. Otherwise it’s the second one down.
Check the biscuits after 10 minutes. After that, every 2 minutes. I’m not kidding. They go from ‘actually getting paler’ to ‘these will only be good at the bottom of cheesecake in seconds. You want golden brown – not tanned gold. You also need to be able to touch the side of a biscuit and have it move across the baking paper without sticking. Then you can lift one and check if the bottom is dry. A little give is fine but nobody wants their biscuits cooked medium rare.
You should be able to lift them onto a cooling tray with a fish slice or similar without them losing shape.
How to serve…
Resist the urge to eat as they are cooling. It’s actually pretty hard. Enjoy them tomorrow with coffee – trust me on this.
And that’s my recipe for 2016. Unless it’s cocktails I tend to avoid the kitchen. I consider it the realm of men who show off and takeaway menus. Such a depressing place…