From the Biscuit Barrel… Cornish Fairings
A few weeks back, when I started my virtual long distance walk between Lands End and John O’Groats (read all about it here), I thought it might be quite fun to combine this “journey” through England, Wales and Scotland with my love of baking by making some locally-inspired baked goodies along the way.
I’m currently “in” Cornwall – midway between St Ives and Perranporth essentially – so of course my first bake had to be of Cornish origin. This time I’m making Cornish Fairings, the recipe courtesy of the wonderful tea-room supremo Margaret Bacon.
“Fairings” were traditionally edible “souvenirs” that were either eaten at or taken home from fairs and events held in England. The Cornish Fairing was originally made during the week after Christmas, when a “maid-hiring” fair was held in the market town of Launceston in Cornwall. Apparently they are a long-time favourite of the famous TV chef Rick Stein.
Cornish Fairings are a sweet and spicy ginger biscuit, made using the usual biscuit ingredients of flour, caster sugar and butter. To these staple ingredients you add mixed spice, a healthy dollop of ginger and ground cinnamon. The mixture is combined with golden syrup then formed and baked as rough circles with the initial period of baking high in the oven, followed by a period at the bottom of the oven.
Here is the recipe. My family LOVED them – it was my first time of making this biscuit – and they soon disappeared! I did manage to package a few up and give to some other friends, in an attempt to save the family waistlines – a great edible gift given and received with pleasure and true to their heritage. Given them a go; if you like ginger you’ll love them.
8oz Plain Flour
2 level tsp baking powder
2 level tsp ground mixed spice
3 level tsp ground ginger
1 level tsp cinnamon
4oz caster sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup (gently heated)
Sieve and mix together the dry ingredients. Rub in butter until it all resembles breadcrumbs and add the sugar. Pour in the warm syrup and mix to a stiff paste. Flour your hands and form into walnut-sized balls. Place on a lined baking sheet (with enough space to spread) and bake in a pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes, moving the baking sheet from the top to the bottom of the oven after 5-7 minutes.
Leave to cool for a little while, before moving to a cooking rack. Wait until cold (if you can!) before eating. Alternatively, pack some up and give them to your chums x