Autumn is a season I approach with mixed feelings. It’s a beautiful time of year – all the vibrant colours, yet it comes with the bittersweet realisation that Winter is approaching.
I find the best way to focus on the sweeter side is to immerse myself in the fruits of the season – taken quite literally. The bushes are bursting with ripe berries, the kitchen crowded with windfall apples, and I find myself drawn towards warmer flavours again.
Crystallised ginger is a new discovery for me. I’ve realised it’s fantastic in Autumnal baking – adding that zing and a touch of heat. I had great success using it in flapjacks. I’ve got a faithful fork biscuit saved up, and thought I’d use up some crystallised ginger in these.
I added a sprinkle of ground ginger to the mix, and a generous handful of crystallised ginger strips. The crystallised ginger adds a delightful chew to the short, crumbly texture of the biscuit, which is almost like shortbread. Only even better! 🙂
- 4 oz butter
- pinch of salt
- 2 oz caster sugar
- pinch of ground ginger
- 5 oz self-raising flour
- 1-2 oz crystallised ginger strips (depends how gingery you want the biscuits to be)
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Mix the butter, salt and sugar together with a spoon until just combined. Then stir through the ground ginger and flour to form a soft dough. Finally press the crystallised ginger into the dough. Roll out small balls, and press them flat, then press the impression of the tines of a fork into the top of the biscuits.
Bake the biscuits for approximately 12-15 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Transfer onto a cooling rack to turn cold.
Originally, I intended to make a copycat version of the posh supermarket dark chocolate-and-ginger biscuits. However, when I came to nibble on one of these, I completely changed my mind. They are so moreish they need no further adornment.
I used to think that effort was proportional to how much I’d enjoy the finished result – but it’s clear from these that in minutes you can whip up something wonderfully tasty. In fact I thought these were even yummier than the flapjacks!
It’s the perfect sort of healthy dish that bridges the gap between light summery food and comforting winter stodge. Roast up a tray of vegetables, and throw in a handful of fresh salady components. You can even roast a bit of meat together with your veg. Why not?
I used some homegrown courgettes which exuded water by the litre in the oven, so I had to keep taking the tin out and stand over the sink draining the excess water off. I read a tip on the internet that you can roast your vegetables sitting on a rack inside the roasting tin, so I’m tempted to try that next time so see if I can get a crisper finish.
Roasted Vegetable Salad
- 2 small red onions, cut into wedges
- 1/4 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 2 colourful peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 1 small courgette, cut into chunks
- 1/2 small aubergine, cut into chunks
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- handful of fresh baby spinach
- 5 cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 220˚C. Toss the onions, butternut squash, peppers and courgette together in a large roasting tray with a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Roast for at least 30 minutes until softened, and starting to crisp. If eating immediately, toss the roasted veg with some fresh spinach leaves and some sliced cherry tomatoes. If saving for another day, then wait until the roasted veg is cold before amalgamating everything together.
This weekend has been a good ‘un for kitchen exploits. After a hard week at the grindstone, there’s nothing sweeter than sitting down to two blissful days of absolutely no-work-at-all. The journey back home involved tearing down the motorways in a rather fast-and-furious fashion, but it wasn’t long before I was at my usual place in the kitchen whipping up a batch of flapjacks.
I’ve been really enjoying the rather adult combination that is crystallised stem ginger, and dark chocolate. However, I’ve only tried these in biscuits, but I knew that they would probably work just as well in flapjack form too. It’s the same as my usual flapjack recipe but I’ve flung in a generous handful of crystallised stem ginger, and drizzled the top with dark chocolate. The chocolate and ginger counteract the inherent sweet-butteriness beautifully.
I made a bit of a mess when it came to drizzling the chocolate on top. Drizzle with chocolate when the flapjacks are cold, with a teaspoon, and cover small sections at a time. If you are impatient for them to set, they can rest a spell in the freezer which works nicely.
Crystallised Ginger and Dark Chocolate Flapjacks
- 250g salted butter
- 100g brown sugar
- 200g golden syrup
- 250g rolled oats
- 75g plain flour
- 75g chopped crystallised ginger
- 75g dark chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line a square baking tin with baking paper. Put the butter, sugar and syrup into a big saucepan and gently heat until it’s melted together in a glorious gloop. Stir in the oats, flour and ginger then press firmly into the tin and bake for around 20 minutes until the edges have become golden. It looks soft, but solidifies as it cools down. Leave it to go cold – a true test of willpower. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Then cut into squares and enjoy!
You can see that the corner piece has mysteriously gone missing. Nom.