Thursday, 18 July 2013

Ginger Nut Biscuits (Wheat Free)

As far as I'm aware, ginger nuts in the States are known as ginger snaps, and are traditionally eaten around Christmas time. Here however, they are basically a staple of any household's biscuit barrel, and are cursed for tainting nearly every other biscuit therein with a slight gingery hue. They also are rock hard when bought from the shop, and do well to be left to go a little stale deliberately to prevent broken teeth.

I remember making ginger nuts when I was a little girl: I'd help my mother make a batch every now and then, and I was always fascinated by the biscuits going into the oven as balls and coming out flat and round. The hardest task was waiting for them to set before eating, so they wouldn't just fall apart in your hands.

Having designed a pretty fail safe recipe for the chocolate chip cookies, I decided to move onto other kinds of 'drop biscuit'. Drop biscuits are those that aren't rolled out and cut, like shortbread or gingerbread. Drop biscuits are ideal for those with limited kitchenware, as all you need is a mixing bowl, a mixer and/or wooden spoon, and a baking tray; and of course an oven. That's essential.

As you will see, this is very, very similar to the chocolate chip cookie recipe except for a few little differences.

Makes 25 to 30, depending on size

  • 8 ounces (255 grammes) spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) brown sugar
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) golden syrup, or treacle for the adventurous
  • 1 medium egg

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.4, or moderate). Line one or two baking trays with non-stick baking paper, depending on how big your oven is. Make sure the shelves are in the middle of the oven.
  • Sieve together the baking soda, spices, salt and flour together onto a piece of greaseproof paper and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy with a wooden spoon or electric hand mixer. Once creamy, add the two sugars and continue to beat until fully combined.
  • Add in the egg and beat until just mixed in. Here is where usage of the electric hand mixer ends.
  • Using a wooden spoon, mix in the sieved flour mixture, and gently work in with the wooden spoon until all the flour has disappeared into the mixture. This dough doesn't need to chill, so you can use it straight away.
  • Scoop rounded teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll into balls between your hands. Put on the trays 2 to 3 inches (5 to 6.5 centimetres) apart, and place the tray(s) on the middle shelf(ves) of your oven. 
  • Bake the biscuits for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a rich golden brown. They will puff up during cooking, but then start to crisp and crack on the outside. This is what you want.
  • To ensure consistent and even baking, turn the trays around through 180° half way through baking, and swap the shelves if you have two trays.
  • When the baking is up, remove from the oven immediately. Take the trays out and leave them on the work surface, biscuits still on, for another minute until they sink back into flat rounds.
  • Remove the non-stick paper, biscuits still attached, and place on the cold work surface for a further minute. Then remove the biscuits and cool completely on a wire rack.
These are best enjoyed dipped into a hot cuppa schkald.

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