Polly’s Ginger Biscuits

Readers of An Unseen Attraction will be aware that our hero Clem’s housekeeper makes a pretty good ginger biscuit as a cure-all for distress.

The ginger biscuits were not long in coming, and Clem was pleased to see their restorative effect. He wasn’t sure what Polly put into them, and nor was anyone else; there were women up and down Wilderness Row formally Not Speaking to her because she refused to give out the recipe. Clem didn’t have a sweet tooth in general but could happily have eaten a plateful at a sitting, and they had much the effect on the system that a stiff drink had on people in books. Rowley nibbled an edge listlessly, sat up, took a second one, and let his hunched shoulders relax a little for the first time since he’d come back.

Clem smiled at him. “They are good, aren’t they? But you do have to have something terrible happen to you first, because she doesn’t like to waste the ginger.”

Well, if you’re more generous with your ginger than Polly, here’s a recipe. I hope nothing terrible happens first.

  • 100g butter (at room temperature)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g fine brown sugar (or you can use 175g caster and no brown if you prefer)
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1.5 tbsp golden syrup
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 150g crystallized ginger chunks (chopped to appropriate chunks-for-cookies size)
  • 2 tsp ginger liqueur (completely optional)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180/ Gas Mark 4.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the egg and golden syrup (pro tip: if you oil the spoon very lightly before measuring out the golden syrup, it just slides right off into the bowl and makes life much easier) and the liqueur if using, and continue beating until well combined. Mix the flour and ground ginger into the biscuit mixture and stir until combined. Stir in the crystallized ginger.
  3. The dough will be sticky. Shape into 20 walnut-sized balls and place on greased or lined baking sheets. They spread so don’t crowd them. Best to use 3 trays.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. The tops will crack and the inside will look a little ooshy. Do not be tempted to cook till they look completely done: they will firm up as they cool, and you want the chewy inside.
  5. Leave on the baking tray until cool enough to transfer to a wire rack (they will be very soft when you take them out of the oven). Allow to cool completely before serving insofar as that’s possible. I mean, warm is fine. Look, just let them cool enough to firm up, okay? Or at least, don’t burn your mouth.


NB: the ginger liqueur is totally optional. I happen to have a bottle of The King’s Ginger in the house so I use it; don’t make a special trip to the shop. However, if you do have it, you can also make the ginger equivalent of a Kir Royale: put a splosh of ginger liqueur in a champagne glass, top up with sparkling wine for a fizzy, fiery drink. This is a Ginger Royale or, as we call it at ours, a Prince Harry.

7 replies
  1. Jen Erik
    Jen Erik says:

    I bought a packet of ginger biscuits today, for the first time in ages. I just thought I fancied some – but this post has produced a light-bulb moment. (Fast forward to after ‘An Unnatural Vice’ when I find myself unexpectedly the owner of a quaint but welcoming London Tavern.)

  2. Jenna
    Jenna says:

    My friend and I just made these today! It was a little difficult as we’re in the US and some of the ingredients are harder to get, but it was definitely worth it—they were amazing!

  3. Jane
    Jane says:

    I did a conversion to American weight and volume measurements if anyone else needs it:

    3 1/2 ounces butter (at room temperature) (7 tbsp)
    3 1/2 ounces sugar (1/2 cup)
    2.65 ounces fine brown sugar (1/3 cup plus a tiny bit)
    1 medium egg
    1.5 tbsp golden syrup (might substitute corn syrup, molasses, or a mixture of both)
    8.8 ounces self raising flour (1 3/4 cups)
    2 tsp ground ginger
    5.3 ounces crystallized ginger chunks (chopped to appropriate chunks-for-cookies size)
    2 tsp ginger liqueur (completely optional)

    And the oven temperature, if the 180 is Celsius, is about 355 Fahrenheit. (I have no idea what a gas mark is.)

    I can’t wait to make these (assuming nothing terrible happens first!)

    • Su
      Su says:

      Thank you! I was going to bribe my English/Canadian friend to go with me to the international market to translate and subsequently to make these luscious sounding goodies with me, but you’ve saved me a large pile of dough $$$ since I can’t get out of the place without various items leaping into my basket.
      A Gas Mark is simply a series of settings on an English oven which make it easier to set the temperature for cooking, since numbers aren’t required. I can’t imagine having to make with a calculator in one hand to do conversions with.

  4. Jen
    Jen says:

    I was wondering if Polly might have put any “herbal” ingredients into her biscuits to make them particularly restorative….?

    I’ve just this minute made some and had to adapt
    to 1/2 ginger glace peel 1/2 crystal ginger as I thought I had more in the cupboard but didn’t. The peel works well tho, so I’m glad of that.

    The biscuit is beautiful. More like a cake really…. I read the ingredients and did a double take on using ‘self raising’ rather than plain. But Polly knows best, so went with it and I’m more than just Clement about them, I’m Rolly happy. 🙂


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