Saturday, 26 September 2009

Ginger and old cookbooks

Recipe books from my grandmothers' generation must be the epitome of fun but frugal cooking. In the austerity years people wanted to entertain, and to celebrate life after all that death, but often remained constrained by limitations both economical and imaginative - cabbage blankets with grilled kidneys anyone?

Looking at my copy of 'Cooking with Elizabeth Craig', which I see from the fly leaf was given to my paternal grandmother for Christmas 1949, I am struck by the sub-title - it sums up the era so perfectly, and with a little adapting could work perfectly well for 2009: 'A cookery book for the housewife of modest income...' Well, that's almost me!

Thinking of both my grandmothers' kitchens, certain scents and flavours are particularly evocative - hot jam and boiled carrots from my father's family home (Granny wasn't the most imaginative cook), and nutmeg, stewed apple, and ginger from my mother's. These little ginger biscuits are adapted from Mrs Craig's recipe, and are sweet, light and comforting, more buttery than spicy. My friend Mrs Blue tells me they make excellent dunkers with a cup of milky chai tea...


  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 110g golden caster sugar
  • 1 large egg

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  • Sift the flour and ginger together into a mixing bowl.
  • Dice the cold unsalted butter into the flour, and rub in using the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles course damp sand.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Beat the egg and add to the mixing bowl, stirring together firmly.
  • Once the egg is amalgamated, gently knead until a soft smooth dough forms.
  • Break off lumps of dough about the size of a walnut in its shell, and roll into spheres between your palms, placing each ball about 2cm apart on the lined sheets.
  • Using the back of a fork, gently press the tines down on the dough to flatten into little biscuits.
  • Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes, or until just turning golden. Leave to rest on the trays out of the oven for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store any you don't eat right away in an airtight tin.
Makes around 24.

1 comment:

  1. They look perfect! HOW did you get them to bake up so nicely?