Ginger Biscuits

Some people call these gingersnaps, while others call them ginger cookies. I’ve opted for the British name because the idea to make them recently came up as a suggestion from a British woman who attended our recent Vegan Cooking Workshop.

We just completed making a round of our delicious Gluten-Free Chickpea Shortbread when the woman (let’s call her Sarah) wondered if they would work with some ginger. It turns out she really missed enjoying a good crisp ginger biscuit to dip into her tea. Well, that was all the encouragement I needed, so we immediately made another round of the shortbread and added dried ginger and diluted the chickpea flour with some corn flour. The result was ok, but not quite what a good gingersnap should be – you know, really heavy on the ginger flavor, dark golden color, very crispy and exceptional when dunked into a hot tea. My goodness…talk about comfort food…oh, sorry about getting carried away.

After a week or so, I decided to give it another go. I began by researching a number of excellent traditional recipes from some very credible and good sources. I looked on the internet to see what other vegans were doing and then began to combine ideas and mix them with my shortbread idea. The result are these biscuits (please don’t call them cookies), which can be made in less than one hour – from that initial thought of, ‘I want biscuits’ to pulling them out of the oven and suddenly wondering how you will resist grabbing one while they cool.

Yield: makes about 20-24

  • 250 grams (1 1/4-cups) gluten-free flour mix (see tips below)
  • 20 grams rice starch
  • 10 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 20 grams (1 large tablespoon) fresh ginger, grated
  • 10 grams (1 large tablespoon) dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 75 grams unprocessed rapeseed oil
  • 150 grams brown sugar (see tips below)
  • 60 grams unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple vinegar
  • natural cane sugar for rolling
  • Preheat your oven to 170°C (330°F) using the convection fan (be sure to add about 5-10°C or 20°F) to your temperature if you bake without the fan.
  • Let’s start by getting all your dry ingredients: gluten-free flour, rice starch, baking soda, fresh and dried ginger and ground cloves. Mix in a bowl, then sift into another bowl. This will make sure all of the ingredients are well mixed.
  • Next up is to place the rapeseed oil and brown sugar in a separate bowl. Mix to combine – I just use a spatula and stir the mixture well. Add the soy milk and vinegar and continue to mix. The mixture should all come together into a nice brown solution that is about the same consistency as cream.
  • Begin adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients – several spoons at a time and mixing and folding well between additions. In the end, you should end up with a moist, but not sticky dough. Add a touch more starch to the mixture if it is too sticky.
  • Moisten your hands with a bit of water and begin to break off pieces about walnut-sized (I like to be perfect here and I actually weigh the portions to insure consistency – work with 25 grams, which is just shy of one ounce). Roll into a smooth ball, then coat with some natural sugar. Flatten slightly…and make sure to leave a bit of room on your baking tray as these biscuits will spread slightly.
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes, then cool for 30 minutes before eating. The biscuits will get harder as they cool. Choose the longer baking time for extra crispy – perfect for dunking into a tea.
  • Store in an airtight container for 14 days (but I’m guessing they won’t last that long).

Jack’s Fresh Tip

The gluten-free flour mix I use contains a mixture of corn flour, corn starch, guar gum and carob powder. This is an example of a good mixture that will work for most uses. There are many options on the internet to make your own mixture, so let your fingers do the searching. My advice is to always use a 50% ratio – meaning 1/2 flour (corn, lupine, brown rice, etc.) and 1/2 starch (tapioca, rice, corn, potato, etc.). Some kind of gum is also included (think xanthan, guar, etc.), but only in small amounts – usually about 1 1/2 teaspoon per 500 grams (4 cups) of flour mixture.

The extra rice starch insures a nice crispy biscuit. Feel free to use other types of starch, like tapioca, corn, potato, etc.

The unprocessed rapeseed oil is important. When heat is applied to this oil, it will release a butter-like aroma – something that will not happen with processed rapeseed oil.

Your brown sugar selection is important. The kind you want is that soft version, which is essentially caster sugar (very fine white sugar) mixed with about 10% molasses and sifted. The presence of the molasses adds an acid to the mixture, which will react with the baking soda to create a slight leavening, but since I added a small amount of vinegar later, the acid is in the sugar is not too relevant. But, the texture of the soft sugar and flavor of the molasses adds the distinctive flavor and color to the biscuit.

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