Traditional ginger biscuits that break with a satisfying snap. This Dairy-free, Gluten-free and Paleo recipe is made with ground almonds, honey and lard.
A true gingernut biscuit should be hard and crisp, rather than soft and chewy. The texture of a biscuit is determined by the amount of liquid used in the recipe. Recipes which have a higher ratio of liquid ingredients to dry ingredients will fall into the squidgy cookie category. Lard is the preferred baking fat for crisp biscuits, since it is 100% fat, whereas butter is 20% water. Sugar should be considered as a liquid ingredient, since it melts in the oven and weakens the structure. This means that less sugar is used in biscuit recipes which call for a crisp texture. Honey is a great sweetener for gluten-free baking, as it attracts water. This keeps bakes nice and moist in the absence of highly-absorbent gluten proteins.
Lard is a stable fat, which means that is remains solid at room temperature. Unlike oil, it cannot be stirred into a mixture, but instead must be rubbed into flour, creating a crumbly mixture that resembles breadcrumbs. The rubbing action coats the flour particles with a layer of fat, which stops them from binding together. This results in a weaker structure, creating a crumbly texture that falls apart and flakes. In pastry this texture is described as ‘short’, to reflect the fact that only short proteins are formed. This makes lard the best fat for baking crisp biscuits. Doughs which have been made using the rubbing-in method need to be left to rest in a cold place for 30 minutes before baking. This is because manual handling will naturally melt some of the fat. By giving the fat time to resolidify, it is easier to roll out and will hold its shape better in the oven.
Tips & Tricks
- Rest the pastry – manual handling naturally melts some of the fat. By giving the fat time to resolidify, it is easier to roll out and will hold its shape better in the oven.
- Use a flat baking tray – deep-sided trays will trap steam and stop the biscuits from crisping up.
- Dab the tops with water – this stops the honey from browning too quickly
- 2 1/2 cups (225g) ground almonds
- 1/4 cup (33g) extra fine almond flour (this is not the same as ground almonds, being de-oiled, de-skinned and more finely ground: buy here or make your own)
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5/8 cup (168g) honey
- 1/2 cup (101g) lard, cut into small cubes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
- Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (ground almonds, almond flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, bicarbonate of soda and salt). Stir until evenly mixed.
- Add the honey and lard. Use your fingertips to lightly rub in the honey and lard, until you achieve a crumbly texture that resembles breadcrumbs.
- Tip the beaten egg into the mixing bowl. Mix with a butter knife, and then with your hands. Press together to form a sticky dough. Knead into a ball then transfer to the fridge. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Line a flat metal baking tray with baking paper.
- Lightly dust a work surface with almond flour. Turn out the dough, then sprinkle more almond flour on top. Use a rolling pin to roll out to about 1cm thick. Cut out the biscuits using a 6.5 cm / 2.5 inch cutter. Collect up the trimmings into a ball, and repeat until all the dough is used – the mixture should make about 20 (alternatively, use a 7.5 cm / 3 inch cutter to make 12 larger biscuits).
- Arrange the biscuits on the lined baking tray. Leave some space between each biscuit, as this will help with browning. Use a pastry brush to lightly dab the surface of each biscuit with water.
- Transfer to the lowest shelf of the preheated oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brown and mostly firm to the touch. Turn the tray halfway through for even colouring.
- Transfer onto a wire cooling rack using a palette knife or fish slice. Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature, where they will keep for 1 week.