“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa
One of the reasons Scruff and I decided to start a food blog is because food, and cooking in particular, is a very big part of how we’ve always shown the other we care. Sharing the food we love through a blog is an extension of this.
In the fifteen or so years we’ve been together we’ve created many memories involving food. These include Scruff making me really good two minute noodles at five am while I lay passed out after a big night of partying, Scruff bringing me a care package of my favourite snacks in the lead up to my exams, Scruff making me soup whenever I’m sick, and so on. For my part I’ve consistently eaten half of Scruff’s meal as well as all of my own every time we go out, I’ve polished off anything he’s handed me to hold while he ducks out of the room for just a second, aaaand I regularly cook things I know he doesn’t like then leave him to fend for himself.
Anyway there comes a time in every relationship where you have to start pulling your weight, and my time came one night when Scruff asked if I could bake him some biscuits. He rarely asks for anything from me ever, and I was feeling sufficiently guilty for making another large batch of vegetable soup which I knew he wouldn’t eat, so despite feeling pretty tired I pulled out my Women’s Weekly Cakes, Biscuits & Slices book and baked him a tray of his favourite biscuit – the gingernut biscuit. You can find a copy of the recipe here.
I was feeling pretty good about doing something nice for him, but things didn’t turn out so great and I ended up with a burnt batch of biscuits. What followed was two weeks of me obsessively making nothing but gingernut biscuits (while Scruff made real food for us) until I got the biscuits exactly the way I wanted. Once my recipe was perfected I packaged up the best ones and gave them away to friends, leaving the reject ones for me and Scruff.
So I’m still not pulling my weight in the food department, but I have spent some time reflecting that baking a person’s favourite biscuits – and perhaps making a cup of tea to go with them – is one of those small acts that can be done with great love. Is there someone in your life who could do with such an act?
- 90 grams butter
- 75 grams brown sugar
- 1/3 cup golden syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Finely grated zest of one lemon (see Note 1)
- 200 grams plain flour
- 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger, plus an extra 1/2 teaspoon if you want a stronger flavour (see Note 2)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 whole cloves, finely crushed
- Icing sugar for dusting (see Note 3)
- Place the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, salt and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Melt over medium heat, then remove from heat.
- Sift in the remaining ingredients (except the icing sugar), and stir until the mixture is smooth.
- Leave to cool until the mixture goes from smooth to clumpy when stirred – about five minutes. This is to make the dough easier to handle.
- Once it’s clumpy place on a cool, portable surface. I use a glass board, but a ceramic plate will do the trick. The idea is to use something that will cool the dough down as quickly as possible and can be moved from your kitchen bench to your fridge then back again.
- Place a sheet of baking paper over the dough then use a rolling pin to roll out to 5 millimetres thickness.
- Remove the baking paper and place the dough in the fridge for about five minutes, or until the dough feels cool to touch.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with baking paper. (This is also a good time to wash up.)
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and place on the baking tray (see Note 4).
- Pop the biscuits in the oven and set a timer for seven and a half minutes. Keep an eye on the biscuits, particularly in the last minute, to ensure they don’t burn. If you need to take them out sooner note the time so you can adjust for the next batch (see Note 5).
- While the biscuits are baking you can either get started on the next tray if you have one spare, or keep the dough in the fridge so it stays cool.
- Once you’ve cut out what you can, roll up the dough scraps and repeat Steps 5 and 8 until you’ve used up all your dough.
- Once the biscuits are done remove from the oven and leave on the tray for a minute or so before lifting the biscuits onto a cooling rack. (Biscuits straight from the oven are soft and will harden as they cool. If you handle them straight away they may crumble, not to mention burn your fingers, so it’s best to let them sit for a bit.)
- Once the biscuits are completely cool dust with icing sugar (Note 6).
- Store in an air tight container for up to a week.
- Gingernut biscuits don’t normally call for lemon zest, but I think lemon pairs wonderfully with ginger. Using the zest gives nice little pops of flavour throughout the biscuit.
- Scruff and I both prefer a stronger ginger flavour, so I always add the extra half teaspoon.
- The biscuits on their own aren’t particularly sweet which is why we add the icing sugar. If you prefer your biscuits less sweet then leave it out.
- If you don’t have a cookie cutter just pick off clumps of dough, roll them into a ball then flatten into a round shape. Press down gently with a fork to create ridges on the surface.
- With all biscuit recipes it’s very important you use a timer and watch your biscuits closely. They’re baked for such a short amount of time that 30 seconds too much or too little can make the difference between burnt, perfect or undercooked biscuits. Also, everyone’s oven is different, so the time I have here may not work in your oven, or it may work for you on a cold day but not on a hot day. You can do a test batch with one or two biscuits before committing a whole tray.
- If you dust the biscuits while they are still warm the icing sugar will melt.