A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to receive another handwritten letter – this time from my long-time best friend Claire – which included this recipe for her Grandma Nancy’s ginger biscuits.
For reasons that I’m unable to fathom since it’s lockdown, I have lately struggled to find the time/energy for baking. I have multiple random stresses as the moment that leave me unable to focus on anything. So I made an executive decision to hand the task to my daughter Elizabeth – unconvincingly veiled as a home-economics lesson. To make things more exciting (for whom I wonder?) I suggested she try another ginger biscuit recipe as a comparison so that we could all sit down for a taste test afterwards. After all, kids love a competition! Elizabeth chose the other recipe from Katie Stewart’s Winnie the Pooh cookbook which was the book that first got me into baking all those years ago!
And the result? Well I can report that we dithered and debated – eating a lot of biscuits in the process – but couldn’t decide on a winner.
In summary, The Winnie the Pooh ones are more like those you might buy in a packet – they are light and sugary and have a perfect snap and a uniform shape. Grandma Nancy’s are like a ginger hob nob, the oats give the biscuits more substance and a chewy texture.
Both are deliciously old-fashioned, moreish (three is about right in my opinion) and perfect with a cup of tea.
PS. I asked Elizabeth to guest write this blog post but she politely declined.
PPS. Apparently home-economics is now called food-tech.
Grandma Nancy’s ginger biscuits (handed down to me by my friend Claire)
Makes approx. 20
- 75g (1 cup) of oats
- 120g (1 cup) of self-raising flour (we used plain because we had run out of SR)
- 70g (½ cup) of caster sugar
- 120g (4oz) margarine or butter (we used Stork margarine)
- 1 heaped dessert spoon of golden syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger
- 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (Elizabeth used baking powder to make up for plain flour use)
Gently melt margarine and sugar and syrup in a pan.
Mix together the dry ingredients and add the melted margarine, sugar and syrup.
Mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough.
Put small balls of 1 dessertspoon onto a baking tray well-separated. Flatten each ball down a little.
Bake at 200oC for 10 minutes.
Winnie the Pooh’s Ginger nuts (from Katie Stewart’s The Pooh Cook Book) – with tweaks by Elizabeth
- 120g (4 oz) of plain flour
- ¼ teaspoon of salt (a pinch)
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
- 60g (2 oz) of butter or margarine (we used Stork margarine)
- 60g (2 oz) of caster sugar
- 1 heaped tablespoon of golden syrup
- 3 teaspoons of hot water
Add flour, salt, baking powder, bicarb, ginger, mixed spice, then rub in the marg or softened butter.
Warm the syrup and add this to the mix. Bring together with a wooden spoon into a soft dough.
Shape the mix into a long sausage. Cut in half, then in half again. Portion each quarter into four balls.
Gently flatten each biscuit with the base of a tumbler. Sprinkle some caster sugar onto a saucer and dip each biscuit into the sugar on both sides.
Then place biscuits well apart on 2 baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper.
Oven 180oc for 13 minutes.
Cool slightly on the tray before lifting with a palette knife onto a wire rack to cool completely.