Most of my baking tends to the retro – the spiced or the savoury, with the exception of the odd chocolate indulgence! My all-time favourite spice is GINGER. I love it in all its forms – powdered, crystalised, as a solid root or stem ginger preserved in syrup…..mmm I just feel so happy even writing about it.
In the winter I use it to make tea. Cut two or three slices from a tuber and put in the bottom of a mug, with a spoonful of honey. Add boiling water and stir. You can leave it for five minutes – the taste will filter through. Stir it round and add more honey if you need it. The joy of ginger tea is that you can leave the pieces in the bottom of the mug and top it up with boiling water at least two more times. If you have a sore throat – this is very soothing.
It is also known as an anti-nausea remedy and is taken in the pockets of sailors when they expect a rocky ride. A while ago I went on a sailing holiday and was requested to take a box of ‘Dorset Dunking Gingers’ in case anyone was sea-sick. I still don’t know if they were effective, but they disappeared to the last crumb very rapidly. In fact on market days, these are the most popular of the biscuits I produce there are two ladies who search to find them – rather like a treasure hunt! We do think of putting them all together – but on the whole we prefer our goods mixed in attractive clusters and our customers seem to enjoy the hunt!
I’m keeping this particular recipe under my pillow, with my other deepest secrets, but here is what the crinkly little fellows look like.
However there is another delicious ginger cookie which also uses a mixture of ground ginger and chopped stem ginger. This is
Bakesy’s stem ginger shortbread
200g unsalted butter (softened)
100g caster sugar (more for sprinkling)
260g plain white four
1 tsp ground ginger
60g chopped glace ginger (from a jar)
3 greased baking sheets ( I use sheets lined with non-stick paper as I find it more reliable )
I use a mixer to make this as it is much quicker/easier and works very well. So all instructions are for the quick way – otherwise you will need to beat with a wooden spoon.
Add the softened butter and sugar to the mixing bowl and beat until creamy and then closer to fluffy! While this is happening, stir together the sifted flours with the ground ginger and salt into another bowl. Add the chopped ginger to the egg/butter mixture and then gently mix in the flours. Don’t over-beat at this stage, combine the mixture into a ball of dough using your hands.
Make the dough into a log shape about 20 cm long and wrap it gently in cling film. Then place it in the fridge to chill for 30 mins.
Preheat the oven to 170c/325F/gas3.
Unwrap the log and slice it into 20 rounds using a sharp knife. I find it easiest to cut the log into 4 pieces and then cut each one into 5 slices. I gently roll them a little so that they fit into a 4″ circular cutter, because I like them to be jumbo rather than genteel. Obviously there are no rules here – you can make them any size you fancy. However remember cooking time will be quicker if you decide on a smaller version. Treat the dough gently – it shouldn’t be rolled hard, but rather, eased into the shape you want.
Place them apart on the baking sheet and bake for around 20 mins. They should be slightly firm to the touch as you bring them out of the oven, but not coloured. So watch them carefully.
Sprinkle with a dusting of caster sugar and as soon as they are cool enough, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completelely.
Will keep for a week in an airtight container.