Because a good biscuit isn't just for Christmas, and because winter is far from over (it really feels like it's only just beginning now it's finally turned cold) now seems like a good time to share the really good gingerbread recipe I found this year.
It comes from Mima Sinclair's charming 'Gingerbread Wonderland' (a bargain for £3 inThe Works). I had ambitions to do more with this book back in December (maybe next year will see me make a gingerbread wreath for the door, maybe...). Meanwhile January offers plenty of scope for enjoying gingery hot chocolate, ginger buns, and those biscuits.
I first tried this recipe for tree biscuits but they came out quite soft so they didn't hang well (there were a lot of casualties when they just collapsed - snap is the wrong word for something this soft, and they were definatley cooked) and they spread a bit in the oven, on the other hand they tasted really, really, good. For eating purposes icing is totally unnecessary - they're quite sweet enough without.
Pour 140g of golden syrup into a saucepan with 200g of soft light brown sugar, 200g of unsalted butter, the zest of a lemon, 4 teaspoons of ground ginger, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1/4 of a teaspoon of ground cloves. Melt over a lowish heat, stirring regularly until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat slightly until the mix just comes to the boil, remove from heat and beat in a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda until just combined (it goes all frothy at this point) then leave to cool for quarter of an hour.
Meanwhile sift 500g of plain flour and a teaspoon of salt into a bowl, add a lightly beaten egg, and the wet ingredients and mix until just combined (the more it's worked the more the biscuits will spread). It's a sticky dough. When it's just combined and smooth wrap it up in cling film and stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.
Heat the oven to 180c (160c got a fan oven) or gas mark 4, cut into shapes, and bake for 6-10 mins depending on size/thickness. They're done when they're golden brown around the edges. They keep well - I've still got some which are a good 3 weeks old and they're still good.