Ginger cookies. the memory of emigration
First of all, I want to thank María Teresa López Lens for these wonderful “gingerbread cookies”, a masterful recipe for one of the classics of English pastry. These cookies usually appear in two varieties: those that contain eggs and their appearance is of a smooth and slightly shiny paste, inheriting the famous Christmas “gingerbread” (“gingerbread”), with which paste the famous humanoid, short-legged and fingerless characters of the “gingerbread man” family, dating from the s. XV, and that later would give rise to these cookies that Queen Elizabeth I gave to her subjects. They can be decorated in a thousand ways, but they all keep the buttons on the shirt, made of icing, raisins or jelly beans.
On account of these cookies, a Christmas children’s story is written in 1875, the story of which is a talkative and shameless gingerbread man who escapes from the oven, and runs a series of adventures, which always succeeds, at the same time. time that mocks its old creators:
“I’ve run away from a little old woman,
A little old man,
And I can run away from you, I can! “
Finally, he is devoured by a fox without, therefore, ceasing to narrate his own ending: “I’m quarter gone … I’m half gone … I’m three-quarters gone … I’m all gone!
Telling this popular story in English children’s literature, the Anglo-Saxon version of Pinocchio, I almost forgot that another variety of these cookies is also baked that is made without eggs., with a rougher, rougher and cracked appearance. Personally, I like both but the former have more to do with my memories of one of the UK’s culinary emblems, comparable in popularity! to the Spanish Maria cookies.
For me, these cookies are always associated with one of those periods of life, in which one changes life due to a life event, in my case my work as a reader in a grammar school English (institute of secondary education). How many memories do these cookies bring me, which I always associate with that stay in England in the 1960s! Yes, there I was, a village girl, less than 20 years old, without a family, in the fog and in the rain (maybe the rain was the only thing familiar), traveling in the “terrifying” and cosmopolitan London Underground to me. First destination, trying to coexist with an ethnic, religious and language plurality that overwhelmed me. But, without a doubt, the most fearsome thing of all was to face every morning that room of “professors-colleagues”, who ate nonstop gingerbread cookies !; cookies that I had never tried, unappetizing in appearance and which, like most types of English food, are unpleasant and strange at first, and progressively – perhaps due to the need for adaptation – they become delicious and intense.
That was my new world, so far from the Spain of the time, and where my colleagues devoured gingerbread cookies and compulsively drank cups of tea, with the excuse that the food in the canteen was inedible; the cookies were taken from a box and paid for with coins that were put into an old Victorian piggy bank. I did not quite understand (or better, calculate) how much each cookie was worth, because they took them in handfuls, and paid with different currencies. One day I gathered my courage and, without knowing then the importance of British courtesy, asked: “Excuse, how much are the biscuits? // Answer:” Halfpenny apiece “. That sounded Chinese to me: my ear and my mind was not yet ready to decipher that in the word “halfpenny”, which I had seen before in its written form, the letter “l” and the “f” were silent, and the pronunciation becomes an unexpected: “heɪpni “, which totally distorted my phonic idea of that word, one of the many unfortunate experiences with spoken English! Yes, indeed, gingerbread cookies were my initiation step towards a new culture, and even a new life. OMG how many lives are lived in one life!
220 g. Of flour
110 g. of butter
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3 ground cloves, or 2 teaspoons cloves (I add just 1 teaspoon of cloves)
2 level teaspoons ground ginger
140 g. brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1. The flour is sifted with the yeast; then, butter is beaten at room temperature with sugar and egg:
2. Now add the flour with the spices and salt, mixing everything well, without the need to knead:
3. Make a dough that is a little soft and that, wrapped in plastic wrap, you must put in the fridge for two hours:
4. Preheat the oven to 180º, roll out the dough with the rolling pin on baking paper, adding more flour if necessary, and cut dough with the preferred shape, and bake for about ten minutes or until they begin to brown:
5. You can do them in any way (square, starry, oval, etc.), but I wanted to keep my memory intact, so I opted for the traditional round ones:
6. When taking them out they will be a little soft, but they harden when cooling; (do not leave more time because they will get very hard):
7. And here you have them: old cookies with a true homey taste and smell, a smell that floods the house with a wonderful mixture of ginger, cinnamon and cloves:
“A nice cup of tea” is essential, and talking about the weather too. Encourage you to do them, they are delicious and they are really easy; I forgot! They win over time and every day they are more.
Once again, “a thousand thanks” to María Teresa López Lens for providing me with this wonderful recipe.