Out of the blue, I really fancied a proper British ginger biscuit. You know the sort, something crunchy and deliciously spice laden. So I turned to my cookbook…
I remembered making these biscuits in the UK and though I only made one batch, I loved them. That’s why there’s lots of little stars next to the title in my hand written book – to me it means “really good, make them again!”.
Thankfully the recipe is online at the BBC Good Food website, as I wasn’t impressed second time around…
These are a combination of butter, flour, raising agents, sugar and spice… all bound together with golden syrup. They’re supposed to be risen, spicy and crunchy.
The BBC website gives the instructions for use with a food processor, but it’s quite easy to do it by hand. The first stage rubs butter into flour, as though making a pastry. Annoyingly, those same instructions require the addition of salt, which isn’t listed in the ingredients. Poor recipe etiquette, Good Food!
Whilst I admit I changed the spicing slightly to add some cinnamon to the mixture – I measured everything else out perfectly. Literally to the gram, even using level spoon measurements rather than being a bit slapdash about it all. Baking is at least one part science and one part magic, so it’s usually best not to second guess a new recipe til it’s had at least one whirl around the kitchen.
I think quite a lot of the difficulty people have had in their creation of these biscuits has been with the syrup quantity. BBC lists this in tablespoonfuls rather than grams. Now I’ve seen old fashioned English tablespoons that most certainly held more than our current baking standard measurements. Such is the problem with volume measured ingredients – they’re very susceptible to error.
Unlike some of the comments on the recipe’s website, I didn’t have a problem with the mixture being too dry or too wet. It kneads (!) a bit of work to bring it all together but that’s not uncommon with dry biscuit dough. In fact, they looked pretty great before they went in the oven.
Five minutes later, they were rising beautifully. They were domed, crackled and lovely. Peering back into the oven a couple of minutes later and they’d all collapsed. When they emerged after 10 minutes at the required 180 degrees… Well, those cookies are certainly not the Ginger Fairings of the BBC picture!
The collapsing of the cookies said to me there’d be too much raising agent in the mix. In fact, they were still hissing when they came out of the oven! The cookies were thin, chewy and undercooked in the centre, crisp at the edges and tasted awfully of raising agent. Most of these went in the bin. I ate two for testing purposes.
Scan the website comments and you’ll see this has happened to others. I find it interesting that I know I’ve made these successfully once, though the second time was a failure. It can’t be blamed on German baking powder and bicarbonate of soda either – I’m using Dr. Oetker tubs from the UK!
Given my variable results with this recipe, the fact it fails to list the full ingredients list and uses a variable volume measurement for the syrup… I really wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re curious and fancy giving it a shot though, I’d love to know if it works for you!