It’s a funny old month to be in the kitchen. The rigmarole of Christmas means that those that cook a lot outside the festive season are called upon for their expertise and enthusiasm, and those that don’t suddenly find themselves in there anyway. For almost a week, so many of the celebrations revolve around food. It can be a little tricky to get back to the old kitchen rhythms after the dishing up the kind of festive feast that make Henry VIII quiver with trepidation and then attempting to eek out the leftovers for days afterwards. It’s discombobulating.
So, as we settle into the New Year, I like to return to my fail safes: little recipes or processes that ground me in my newly quiet and calm kitchen. I make a big jug of the same soup – my favourite, Delia’s leek and potato. I clean out my jars and take advantage of the season, pickling beetroots and turning seville oranges into marmalade. And I make batches of gingernuts. These biscuits aren’t showy. They probably wouldn’t cut the mustard if you turned up to Christmas with them; they’d end up overlooked in favour of fancier biscuity offerings or just tubs of Quality Street. But they’re fantastic: crispy and chewy, with just the right amount of heat from the crystallised ginger. These are so simple and quick to make that they can’t fail to bring you back to kitchen equilibrium.
Makes: 16 biscuits
Takes: 10 minutes
Bakes: 10-15 minutes
175g self raising flour
1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g light brown muscovado sugar
50g crystallised ginger
50g golden syrup
1. Heat the oven to 190°C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
2. Sift the self-raising flour, ground ginger and cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Rub the light brown sugar through the dry ingredients, breaking any lumps up with your fingers.
3. Cut the butter into chunks and rub through the sugar and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
4. Cut the crystallised ginger as small as you can – or run it through a small food processor – and then add this and the syrup to the mixing bowl, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon to bring the dough together.
5. Roll the mixture into 16 small balls; it can be easier to do this with wet hands, to stop the dough sticking.
6. Divide the dough balls between the baking trays, leaving lots of space between the biscuits for them to spread. Squish each a little with a dessert spoon, so that the top is flattened.
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the biscuits have flattened out and are golden and cracked on top. Leave on a cooling rack until completely cold, and then transfer to an airtight tin, where the biscuits will remain good for a week.