Wednesday, 22 July 2009

My Mum's Ginger-Glazed Shortbread

A bite of this heavenly, gingery tea-time treat transported me, in a twinkling, to my childhood. Isn't it curious how a long-forgotten scent or taste can summon dusty memories from the cobwebbiest corners of your brain?

And isn't it strange how a forgotten flavour or texture, when experienced again, can bring other ancient memories fizzing out of your brain banks? I must have been about ten or eleven when I last tasted my mum's ginger shortbread, but, 37 years down the line, a single bite on a biscuit evoked memories I had long forgotten: a beam of sunlight falling through a window, the paisley pattern on a tablecloth, the scent of dry highveld grass, the clink of a spoon against a teacup, the murmur of perfumed ladies and the tinkle of my grandma Peggy's laugh.

I don't know how often my mum made ginger shortbread when I was a child, but it was certainly often enough to imprint its particular perfume on my neural pathways.

I don't have a sweet tooth, and never eat cakes, biscuits, buns or puddings, but I was curious to try this old recipe, which I found in my mum's hand-written Seventies cookbook. The recipe is dead easy, very rich, very sweet and quite delicious. If you have a sour tooth, as I do, reduce the amount of sugar in the glaze, and add a good squeeze of lemon juice.

My Mum's Ginger Shortbread
250 g butter, softened
half a cup (125 ml) icing sugar, sifted
2 and a half cups (625 ml) cake flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tsp (10 ml) powdered ginger

For the glaze:
half a cup (125 ml) icing sugar, sifted
120 g butter
2 tsp (10 ml) powdered ginger
1T (15 ml) golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease two small (15-20 cm diameter) cake tins. Put the softened butter and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and, using an electric beater or a whisk, cream together until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger into the butter mixture and, using your fingertips, combine to form a ball of stiffish dough.

Divide the ball of dough between the two cake tins. Press the dough onto the base of the cake tins and pat smooth. Now, using your thumb, press a crimped pattern into the edges of the dough, so that the perimeter is slightly raised. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Place in the hot oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the shortbread turns golden brown.

While the shortbread is cooking, prepare the glaze. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, and heat gently, stirring frequently. Do not allow the mixture to boil. (Or place in the microwave on a medium setting, for a minute, stirring once). Give the mixture a good whisk.

Remove the shortbread from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Tip the warm glaze over the shortbread and use a knife to spread it evenly up to the crimped sides. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then, using a knife, mark each cake into 8-10 wedges.

When the shortcake is quite cold, remove it from the cake tins and cut, along the marks, into wedges.

Makes 16 wedges.
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redkathy said...

This looks just delicious! I only wish I could bake like that ;)

Nina Timm said...

Oh my gosh, we are so like-minded...I made millionaire shortbread yesterday...I am just waiting for some light to take a picture. I like the nostalgia in this post!!!

Rose&Thorn said...

I want to make this. I have a sweet tooth, but I think I'll take your additions to the glaze.
I love the memory picture you wrote, it made me think about some of mine.