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Christopher Greaves

Ginger Snaps

I have replicated the ginger biscuits my mother made back in the early 1960s. I am sure that she did not have access to molasses, but instead used cans of Tate & Lyle’s black treacle.

LIQUIDS

(1)  One ½cup cooking margarine

(2)  1 egg

(3)  One teaspoon vinegar

(4)  One ½cup of cooking molasses

Let stand for an hour to reach room temperature for better mixing

SOLIDS

(5)  Four level teaspoons ground ginger

(6)  One ½ level teaspoon ground nutmeg

(7)  One level teaspoon baking soda

(8)  Two ½cups sugar

(9)  Four ½cups cake/pastry flour

Mix for five minutes

Bake at 350 15 minutes for chewy ginger biscuits

Bake at 350 20 minutes for crunchy ginger snaps

I use a small bread-maker (shown below) as a mixer; the device has a single low-geared paddle rotating in the floor of the metal bin.

I use a cake of cooking margarine – nominally ½ cup or 250 ml and often enough just unwrap the cake and drop it to sit in the metal bin for an hour as it rises to room temperature. The bin helps to channel heat from the air into the margarine.

I add the liquid ingredients first, with the mixer running so that the dry (solid) ingredients are added to a near-liquid matrix.

Joke: Use a level teaspoon of vinegar, not a heaped teaspoon.

I use a plastic ½ cup measure for most of my cooking. Hence the flour, sugar and molasses are added in MY ½cup increments.

If you are not all that fond of ginger, start with, say, two level teaspoons for ground ginger and increase the dose in future trials.

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The empty metal mixer bin sits on my simple kitchen scales. I have re-calibrated the scales to show zero ounces when the bin is empty.

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The cake of margarine is in the foreground; the molasses and the jam-jar of ground ginger are in the background.

The measuring cup is coyly sitting between the baking soda jar and the ground nutmeg.

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Apparently the cake of cooking margarine weighs 3 ounces.

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The egg adds about 1½ ounces

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The teaspoon of vinegar adds practically nothing in terms of weight, but I am reminded to make better positioning of my flash next time I try to record weights on my kitchen scale.

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The ½ cup of molasses takes me to about 9 ounces

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The ground ginger, ground nutmeg and the baking soda add practically nothing in terms of weight.

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The two ½ cups of sugar take me to 17 ounces.

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And the four ½ cups of flour take the total to 27 ounces.

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Here is the bin ready to be transferred to the mixer; the latest addition, flour, crowns the enterprise.

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The mixing begins. That is the cake of margarine that has floated to the surface during mixing.

I will have to push it down into the matrix until the paddle begins to shave slips off the cake and mix them into the flour.

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Partway through mixing. The edge of the bin is lined with homogenous mixture while the centre of the bin exhibits material (including deadcentre a TINY knob of margarine) still being drawn inwards and downwards.

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The measuring cup retains a film of molasses.

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So I will let that drain into my bowl for as long as it takes me to enjoy a cup of tea and a chapter of my book.

The bowl contents are by now quite homogenous; a final minute of mixing will process the drained molasses.

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I pour the mixture into a clear plastic jar (Starsky’s Delicatessen opposite the Montreal Deli and Diner, since you ask)

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On the scale re-calibrated for the plastic jar I appear to have obtained 28 ounces of Ginger Snap Cookie Mix.

At this point I pop on the jar lid and place the mixture in the fridge until I need it.

Tomorrow I’ll scoop out eight teaspoons (heaped) of mixture onto parchment paper on a baking tray and into an oven pre-heated to 350º.

Bake for 15 minutes for chewy cookies.

Bake for 20 minutes for crunchy cookies.

I let the baked cookies sit on the paper on the counter for 20 minutes before peeling them off the paper; that is, of course, why I maintain TWO sheets of paper; the second batch are baking while the first batch are cooling.

Finally: Into a cookie tin and wait for guests.

P.S. I always re-use the zip-lock plastic bag in which the ground ginger has been provided. It makes a perfect carrier for a half-dozen cookies provided as a gift.

I have, too, used it to carry chilled left-over chicken-and-rice for a traveling lunch; the residual ginger powder add a little je sais quoi to my lunch on a cold wet day.

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Here I am dishing out the chilled mix (quite firm, not runny) one teaspoon at a time onto a sheet of parchment.

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I have flattened each ball with a wetted base of a tumbler and (because I like to show off) criss-crossed each dough with the tines of a fork.

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Here are the cookies slightly over-baked (ulp!)

If I’d have taken them out in time the ginger-snap grooves could have held a generous smear of butter-sugar (“Take on cup of butter and one cup of sugar and ...)

Then I could have put pairs of cookies together – two ginger-snaps AND a generous smear of butter-sugar would then count as only one cookie, right?

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Here is the second batch, the teaspoon of dough rolled into a ball (between the palms of the hands) before being flattened by the wetted tumbler-base.

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And here is the second batch; chewy not snappy.


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Toronto, Friday, December 30, 2016 12:45 PM

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