I’ve been back in London a couple of weeks now, and back at college one week. After ten glorious days of being hosted and cooked for and looked after, I came home ready to cook up a storm, flexing my now rested culinary muscles, which hadn’t really been exercised since last term’s exams.
When we got back, we worked our way through forgotten leftovers, squirrelled away in the fridge from before we headed North. When we’d finally depleted our supplies of cold cuts and cheese and used up the tired veg, I was lost. I couldn’t compose meals or dishes. I couldn’t organise a shopping list. I had, it seemed, completely forgotten how to cook.
So, refusing to panic, I reverted to what I know and love, to what I can rely on. I turned to Delia. You know where you are Delia. You’re in safe hands. Nothing can go terribly wrong when Delia is near. Since then, I’ve been living on her leek and potato soup, a soup that my mum used to make regularly, especially when I was poorly, and one that I make at least once a month, with an absurd amount of pepper and, sometimes, a swirl of double cream on top. Still, this brain freeze wasn’t going to affect my baking, I was confident everything would be fine the moment I leapt back into college.
As I sat back in my first tutorial of term, it all sounded quite straightforward; I looked at the ingredient sheets, watched the demonstration and noted down a recipe. But in the practice kitchen it was a different story: I stood like a rabbit in the headlights as those around me rushed to gather essential equipment, line trays, measure ingredients. It looked instinctive, graceful, almost balletic. I hovered, trying to catch glimpses of others’ actions, hoping to copy them, clunky and unsure. The three hours stretched out like taffy, with mistakes plaguing me at every step. I picked up my misshapen, crispy sponge cake, hiding it in layers and layers of tin foil, slipped out of my whites as fast as I could, changed, and headed home.
When I got home, I made these biscuits. And they worked. Of course they did. Because it’s a Delia recipe: they were simple, and quick, and completely delicious. They worked, perfectly, and I didn’t feel like a total buffoon. The only real difference in my version of the recipe is that I dunk them in really dark chocolate: dark chocolate and the warm sting of ginger are one of my favourite combinations and I was powerless to resist.
It goes like this:
Chocolate ginger oat biscuits
(Adapted from Delia’s recipe)
Makes: 12 biscuits
Takes: 15 minutes, plus cooling
Bakes: 20-25 minutes
110g salted butter
75g demerara sugar
1 dessertspoon golden syrup
110g self raising flour
110g porridge oats
40g crystallised ginger
1 rounded teaspoon ground ginger
100g dark chocolate
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170C, gas mark 3. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Chop the crystalised ginger into small pieces.
2. Heat the butter sugar and golden syrup together in a small pan over a low heat: you want the butter to melt and the sugar to dissolve without the mixture boiling.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and oats together, then tip in the chopped and ground ginger.
4. Pour the melted mixture into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly: I use a spatula or wooden spoon for this.
5. Take roughly tablespoon amounts of the mixture and roll into little golf balls. Place them on the baking trays, spacing them well apart (I tend not to put more than about eight on a large baking tray).
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden and puffed, and no longer bubbling. They will still be soft, don’t worry, just pop the baking tray on a cooling rack. When they’ve started to set up (about ten minutes), remove the tray, leaving the biscuits on the baking paper on the cooling rack until completely cool.
7. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt it over a bain marie. Holding the biscuits by their edges, allow the base of the biscuits to sit in the melted chocolate. Lift the biscuits out and allow any excess chocolate to run off. Place back on the baking paper, chocolate side down, and don’t move until completely set. I find it helpful to have a clean, damp dishcloth nearby to keep my fingers clean between biscuits.
8. Ta dah!
Icing on the Cake
We made these for Christmas presents, tying them up in cellophane bags, but as soon as I got back to London I made another batch, just for us.