Saturday, 11 January 2014

Ginger Iced Shortbread

A week. A whole WEEK!!! It makes me sad that I've not been able to write a post for a whole week but that is what being back on placement at university does for you. I couldn't have lasted much longer though and after two savoury recipes I've got something sweet for you today. Mum made some of this as part of her Christmas baking but I wanted to have a go myself because it really is a very nice alternative to good old plain shortbread. It's still really simple and quick to mix together and the icing is a doddle too.

A buttery base flecked with shreds of stem ginger crumbles to rich perfection beneath a smooth, melting fudgey icing. The heat can be ramped up as desired - the recipe can take that extra spoonful of ground ginger here or there and maybe even an extra ball of stem ginger chopped instead of grated if you like little nuggets of spice revealed here and there. Shortbread, and even its variations is simplicity itself. Short and sweet, just like its name. It makes me glad I gave it a go. I feel an intense, fiery version will be coming along at some point, as is my way.

Now for a little bit of science. I wanted a more in depth knowledge of the blooming of chocolate so I flicked through my 'How Baking Works' and I ended up flipping onto other things too. Feel free to correct me if I haven't go this quite right (I'm always willing to learn, it's a necessity in science) but I couldn't resist putting a little bit of it in here. I've gone far too long without slipping in some baking science so now I'm going to give it a go. Feel free to skip to the recipe if this bores you! 

One of several things that gives structure in baked goods is the gluten from wheat flour. Gluten forms upon addition of water from the proteins glutenin and gliadin, the former providing strength, the latter the ability to stretch and bounce back. Gluten is one of those substances like pectin that isn't fully understood because it isn't uniform across all occurrences which makes it more difficult to study. A general concept is that chains of strongly linked glutenin units loop up adding to stretchiness then these are insterspersed with the coiled gliadin units. A mixture of strong and weak bonds form between gluten but other ingredients interact and indeed interfere with these aggregates. Fats, or more specifically butter in the case of shortbread, do this by coating the glutenin and gliadin prevents the absorption of water and so the bonds cannot as readily form which allow gluten to develop. This results in the product being 'tender' or crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth delicious - it only has short gluten strands hence shortbread. Sugar is also a tenderiser because it is hygroscopic i.e. it absorbs water, the water source in shortbread being the butter. This means less is available for the glutenin and gliain to form gluten and so the structure is less developed. Simple? On a base level definitely. Try drawing out the protein molecules and you will very quckly give yourself a headahe. It's really interesting though. Or maybe I'm just a nosey parker and like to know the reasons behind everything. Now then - recipe time!

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Ginger Iced Shortbread
A warming gingery treat for the winter months or even any time of year when you fancy a bit of delicious shortbread.
For the base:
  • 4oz softened butter
  • 2oz caster sugar
  • 1 ball stem ginger, grated
  • 1oz semolina
  • 5oz plain flour
  • 2 generous tsp ground ginger
For the icing:
  • 0.5 generous tbsp golden syrup
  • 0.5 tbsp stem ginnger syrup
  • 2oz butter
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 or two rounded tsp ground ginger
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease an 8" square tin. Beat the butter until creamy then beat in the sugar followed by the grated ginger. Mix in the ginger, semolina and flour, bringing the dough together into a ball without overworking it.2. Press the dough into the tin and smooth out until level. Bake in the preheated oven for around 30 mins until slightly browned around the edges, reducing the temperature if it bubbles up too much. Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare the icing.3. Melt the butter and syrups together in the microwave. Mix in the icing sugar and ginger and beat well, then pour onto the shortbread fresh from the oven. Leave to cool and set on a wire rack then slice and serve.

As these shortbread biscuits contain spices I'm entering them into my own Biscuit Barrel challenge. I've set the theme this month as spices because I thought most people could do with a little extra warmth in this cold month. What's more, ginger biscuits of any sort go perfectly with a hot cup of tea which is exactly what I enjoyed one with earlier while attempting to work on an assignment.

As shortbread is egg-free it lends itself to this months Treat Petite, a collaboration between Kat from the Baking Explorer and Stuart from Cakeyboi. Kat is hosting this month and the theme is 'free from'. Eggs are needed for so many cakes, biscuits, cookies and all sorts of other things but luckily those with an egg allergy can still enjoy shortbread!


  1. I love ginger and I love shortbread... so I'm thinking I'll have to try these!

    1. If you do be sure to let me know the results!

  2. My icing never works. Too runny.

    1. That is such a shame. You could maybe up the icing sugar content until you get a consistency you are happy with. It is quite runny at first but it sets as it cools.

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  4. My gran used to make these for me. Just tried the recipe. How long does it take to set?


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