The church biscuit: 63. Pear and Ginger Fairings

Pear and ginger fairings from Miranda Gore Browne's  'Biscuit' (Ebury Press 2012)

Pear and ginger fairings from Miranda Gore Browne’s ‘Biscuit’ (Ebury Press 2012)

It’s never a good idea to impose new ideas on village churches, it’s much better if things emerge and are embraced in their striving infancy. People occasionally wistfully bemoan the fact that we don’t have a children’s service at Ipsden church while at our sister village, North Stoke, one flourishes on the third Sunday in the month. This is almost always taken by one of the fathers and in current church fashion would probably be categorised as  “messy church” as it can take many forms and doesn’t seek to constrain children within pews or to restrain them to tidiness or being quiet.

The thing about Ipsden is that the inhabitants are deep rooted and few houses change hands so new villagers are rare. The children who swelled the church attendance in the 1980s and 1990s have come to church for weddings and baptisms in recent years and the natural cycle of things mean that it is only now that there is a little group of older toddlers in the village for whom a Sunday gathering is appropriate.

Pear and ginger fairings from Miranda Gore Browne's  'Biscuit' (Ebury Press 2012)

Pear and ginger fairings from Miranda Gore Browne’s ‘Biscuit’ (Ebury Press 2012)

We had the first of these gatherings last Sunday and the turnout consisted of 3 aged 3-5, one baby of 4 months and a little girl of 12 (not many by any reckoning, but little acorns, etc …). One of the 3 year olds immediately declared he didn’t like it there and was going home but minutes later with a drum to bang and a song to sing he was utterly contented; by the end of the ‘service’ he was one of 3 little blonde heads happy on the stone flagstones trying to stab a pirate in a barrel – success of sorts, if you don’t think too much about piratical murder. With 4 adults to every child,  parents could perhaps relax a little better that they would on a Sunday morning at home. Mature women delighted in their turn holding the baby who was himself completely unfazed from being passed around  like a party parcel (and his lucky parents benefitted by being left in bed at the grandparental home). The format of the service was very loose, hymns/songs around a core of 2 biblical readings and a quiz which sent everyone out around the church and into the church yard for answers. Everybody enjoyed the mix – and mother of the one who was intent on leaving said she would bring her other 3 another time when Sunday morning rugby and hockey permitted. The 10 am start rather than 9.30 was appreciated by us all.

I made these biscuits (based on the recipe in Miranda Gore Browne’s ‘Biscuit‘; Ebury Press, 2012) because I thought a soft fruity ginger biscuit,would be enjoyed by both adults and children. We were also lucky to have some shop bought bourbon biscuits left over from the Ride & Stride bike marathon of the previous weekend – next time there is a children’s service perhaps I should have a go at Miranda’s version of bourbons. In the case of these biscuits, I thought the ginger – both crystallised and ground – overwhelmed  the less strong flavour of the dried pear which was a bit too expensive to be so smothered. I have made some with the addition of white chocolate chips and these were good although the bits of chocolate that are exposed during cooking go brown and unattractive in the hot oven. White chocolate zigzagging across the top would be better for both flavour and looks.

Pear and ginger fairings from Miranda Gore Browne's  'Biscuit' (Ebury Press 2012)

Pear and ginger fairings from Miranda Gore Browne’s ‘Biscuit’ (Ebury Press 2012)

225 g self raising flour

2 tsp ground mixed spice

2 tsp ground ginger

100 g unsalted butter, roughly chopped

10 g crystallised ginger, roughly chopped

110 g caster sugar

4 tbsp golden syrup

75 g pear roughly chopped into tiny pieces

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC for a fan oven/Gas Mark 6

Line baking trays with non stick baking paper or use Wilton’s Cake Release. (I tried one try with baking paper and one with cake release. The latter left the bottom of the biscuit slightly shiny with oil but the taste was not affected. In a hurry, the cake release would be great – and no paper to throw away.)

If you have a food processor, whizz the flour together with mixed spice and ground ginger. Add the butter and crystallised ginger and whizz again until the mixture resemble breadcrumbs. If you’re making these by hand, chop the crystallised ginger as finely as you can and rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips. Add the sugar and whizz again or stir to combine.

Gently warm the golden syrup by placing the tin in a pan of simmering water and then add 4 tbsp to the mixture of dry ingredients until well combined. Now stir in the dried pear. The resulting dough should be quite fir and not too sticky.

Roll the dough into walnut size pieces and place them on baking trays. Flatten with the bottom of a glass and press  with a fork if you fancy it.

Bake for 5minutes on the highest shelves in the oven. Swap the trays round and bake for a further 5-7 minutes until the biscuits look golden and slightly puffy. Let them cool on their baking trays.

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  1. Posted September 23, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I do love your blog and I hope that I have told you so before. Every time I read one of your biscuit recipes I wish that I had a church congregation to bake for but our little church in Devon is filled with prize winning WI bakers so any contribution from me would be surplus to requirements.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Oh thank you, Alice, such a comment is always welcome and warmly received.
      I can see having a church stuffed full with top notch bakers would be very intimidating but perhaps you should just take a plateful anyway one day. Ordinarily I would rarely bake biscuits but it’s rather nice to do so to share with others – and it’s especially good for all biscuits to go in one sitting so you don’t have to be tempted by idle calories at home.

  2. Posted September 24, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    The pear could be quite a subtle flavour, and ginger really isn’t, so I can imagine that getting the balance right would be tricky!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Yes, I couldn’t agree more about the mix of flavours and I’m not sure that the pear will ever be in balance with the ginger.

  3. Posted September 24, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like a very jolly gathering, and beautiful biscuits too. I agree about the white chocolate, I have always found the same problem when using white chocolate so tend to avoid recipes now where white chocolate will be exposed in the oven. Milk or dark chocolate seems to survive the oven better (I imagine because of the cocoa content?) X

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