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Family Matters


One of the things that my Da did unfailingly when I was a child was to sample and praise every baked good that I ever made, both the good and the bad, as well as the jaw-breakingly awful. I had an obsession with ginger, so he gamely ate the gingerbread, ginger cake and ginger biscuits that I would produce with regularity.

Ginger is still one of my most favourite ingredients, though I probably use it more often in savoury dishes now than sweet. In honour of my sweet-toothed Da, however, I thought I would revisit old ground and make ginger biscuits, ones which should not, I hope, cause him to break any of his false teeth.

Ginger lemon biscuits

I adapted this recipe from one for cracked-surface crunchy gingersnaps which Shirley Corriher includes in her mighty book of baking know-how, Bakewise [1]. I’ve replaced the molasses with honey and changed the spicing to add lemon and cayenne to the ginger. They spread quite a bit during baking and, for me, turned out much more ginger chew that ginger snap, though adding honey, among other things, can have that effect.

If your dough seems very moist and ends up spreading more than you’d like, try adding a little extra flour to the mix next time. Individual flours vary in the amount of protein they contain and hence in the amount of liquid they can absorb, so you may need to tweak this according to the flour you use.

You’ll need:

  • 350g granulated sugar plus extra for coating
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 3 tblsp honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 3.5 tsp gnd ginger
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
  • grated zest of 2 small or one large lemon

You’ll also need:

  • One or two large baking sheets (around 30cm x 40cm) and, if you have it, some baking parchment to line them.

The Steps:

  • Beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy, using a stand mixer, food processor or by hand.
  • Add the honey and beat to blend in well, then add the egg and beat to just blend in.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cayenne and lemon zest. Add this to the sugar and butter mixture and mix until it just comes together as a dough. Cover and chill the dough for at least an hour or (even better) overnight.
  • When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180C and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place about 3 tblsp of granulated sugar in a small bowl. Scoop tablespoonfuls of the dough, roll into approx. 3cm balls and then roll each ball in the sugar. Place on the baking sheet about 5cm apart. You’ll need about half of the dough to fill one large baking sheet, so either use two baking sheets or (preferably) bake in two batches.
  • Bake until lightly golden and the edges are beginning to darken, about 10 minutes, but do check them earlier.
  • Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. If re-using the baking sheet for the second batch, cool it off under cold water before re-lining with parchment paper and filling the tin for round two.
  • Enjoy these for the sweet treats that they are or perhaps use them as part of a dessert, along with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit.

The Variations:

  • There are lots of possible variations, but one that particularly appeals to me is replacing the lemon zest with orange zest and perhaps adding a few finely chopped hazelnuts to the mix

The Results:

  • Makes about 40 gingery biscuits.