Vintage Recipe – Sarah’s Ginger Bread Biscuits
Last year my mum revealed that she had what I’d always wished my family had – an old family recipe book belonging to my great-grandma, who I called “Nan”.
I’m an avid recipe scrapbooker, pasting cuttings and print-outs of interesting-looking recipes into a succession of notebooks. The best of those recipes, the ones that work and I will make for my family over and over, I write down in my ultimate notebook, which is a copy of River Song’s Diary from Doctor Who. I started doing this years ago in order to start my own family recipe book for my children. With my daughter’s allergies, the focus has changed a bit, and now I’m trying to find vegan baking recipes that we all can enjoy, seeing as it’s strangely very hard to find shop-bought baked goods that are both dairy and egg-free. Especially as those are two of the most common allergies for children.
I’m slightly baffled as to why me and my brothers, all of us interested in food and cooking, were never aware of the recipe book before, but that fact that this thin green exercise book exists at all is a cause for joy. There are no dates in it, but I think it’s from when my grandma was a teenager, as some of what looks like her school-era writing is in it, which would make it from the 1920s-30s.
I’m planning to work my way through making a selection of the recipes, and I started here, with “Sarah’s Ginger Bread Biscuits”. I don’t know who Sarah was, but she evidently made biscuits which were good enough for my Nan to seek out the recipe. Also, as a bonus, there’s no dairy in them, the fat being made up of lard. In order to make them suitable for my daughter I included egg replacer instead of the egg, and soya milk to mix with the bicarbonate of soda. And I ended up using Trex vegetable fat instead of the lard too, but it’s a similar thing.
This is the recipe:
Sarah’s Ginger Bread Biscuits
- 14 1/2oz flour
- 4oz lard
- 5oz syrup
- 8oz sugar
- 2 tspns ginger
- 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
- 1 egg
- Rub lard into dry ingredients, with a little salt.
- Add warmed syrup warmed and the soda dissolved in a little milk.
- Add egg, well beaten.
- Mix all well together, roll out.
- Next day cut with an egg cup and bake in a hot oven.
When I mixed the dough I didn’t roll it out, instead I kept it in a lump and put it in the fridge overnight. The next day I divided it into walnut-sized balls and flattened them with a fork rather than cut them with an eggcup. The biscuits spread and won’t keep their shape in any case. When you take them out of the oven they are soft, so wait a minute before moving them onto a wire tray to cool.
The verdict – they do indeed taste like gingerbread, and when freshly made are a delicious combination of crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. After a day they will have hardened a lot, and develop the classic crunchy texture of the gingernut biscuit. Which is nice, but not quite so delectable as the fresh version. They didn’t last long in my house, so thank you Nan!