Today I’m sharing what could be the very first recipe that I ever wrote down. It’s an easy baking recipe for ginger biscuits which I have now modified to include spelt. The resultant spelt ginger biscuits are so simple that a five year old could make them (and probably has, judging by the writing).
My parents are clearing their home, having finally taken the decision to sell the house that my brother and I grew up in, after years of my parents living in it alone. Well, I say alone. It has mostly been just the two of them, aside from my occasional sojourns there, when I have been between flats, relationships, or both.
This residential emancipation is divulging a trove of souvenirs and relics, not only from my parent’s lives, but also from mine, my brother’s and those who went before us. Having lived there for 35 years, there’s been plenty of time for cupboards to be stuffed deep with year upon year of familial collateral which now needs to find a new home. For my part, that new home is a charity shop, or the bin, because I have developed a steely affront to material sentimentality. I cherish memories, thoughts and feelings, but am less inclined to cherish objects which will not be seen, loved or used on a regular basis.
A Spark of Joy.
A friend recently told me about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo. He explained the essence of Marie’s book using the concept that we should only keep items which bring joy to our lives when we see them.
It was explained thus in a review in The Guardian:
“…anything that doesn’t “spark joy” is to be touched, thanked and ceremonially sent on its way towards a better life elsewhere, where it can discover a more appreciative owner.”The Guardian
It feels like a contemporary condensing of William Morris’ ethos on material goods, which I have long tried to affect in my life.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”William Morris
Regardless of the semantic differences between the two, it’s a principle I try to apply in my life. As I write this, I feel an urge to go upstairs and clear out my collection of DVDs and CDs which have been carried from home to home, yet barely ever played, because they are simply outdated, both stylistically and technologically.
However, my parent’s material purge was bound to unearth a few gems, truly worth holding onto. I’m talking about items which when seen, genuinely spark a sense of joy and happiness. One of these items came to light a few weeks ago. It’s a recipe, written by myself, from an early age with scraggly writing, whence I was already keen to to begin logging and categorising recipes. The food blogger in me clearly started developing at a young age.
Of course, I simply had to make this recipe for the blog. I can imagine a tiny Gavin, earnestly writing the recipe, then pouring his concentration into mixing, rolling and cutting out the biscuits. I can also imagine wanting to eat all of them, as I also wanted to this morning. I managed to stop when I had consumed half the batch, precisely when I felt a sense of disappointment at the idea of having none left for Saturday.
It’s quite a charming recipe, because it’s so damn simple. There’s nothing that can go wrong, seriously.
OK, you could burn them if you really tried, but it’s as basic as baking recipes can be, and for that, I love it. I may have also allowed a soupçon of sentimentality to rose-tint that opinion, because despite my ruthless streak over keeping material goods, being sentimental can actually be good be fun, now and again.
Spelt Ginger Biscuits
By Gavin Wren
Uses greaseproof paper, baking sheet, mixing bowl, sieve, rolling pin and biscuit cutters.
100g white spelt flour
50g soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
50g butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon of milk (I used oat milk)
Sift the flour, sugar and ginger into a mixing bowl. Add the butter, then using one hand, mix it together until you have a dry crumbly mix. Add the milk and continue to mix until you have a smooth dough.
Lay a piece of greaseproof paper on the counter, place the dough on it and roll to about 5mm thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut shapes, then remove the excess dough and use this to make more biscuits.
Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. They should be turning golden brown when they are ready. Remove and place the biscuits on a cooling rack, then eat when cooled.