It’s crunch time in the kitchen

tea_room

On the eve of Waitangi Day, which many Kiwis regard as the nation’s birthday, I (Mr DW)  thought that I would create a little slice of Kiwiana heaven here in New York. Unlike a NY slice, this one appeals to the sweet tooth. More Anglophile than our Aussie neighbours, we Kiwis love tea, coffee and cakes and slices (an antipodean sweet treat of a shortbread cookie base with a thick  flavoured icing). That little slice of heaven I’m making tonight? Ginger crunch; ginger flavoured shortbread with a buttery, ginger icing.

As a couple we’ve become so obsessed with ginger crunch that our first port of call on the drive home from Auckland airport is a non-descript motorway cafe in the Bombay Hills. It’s only then, after a flat white and a ginger crunch, that we know we’re home. That box ticked, the rest of our home leave is spent downing flat whites and comparing ginger crunches. Fortunately NZ “law” mandates that every cafe, tea room and bakery carry the little slices of heaven, so even if we don’t leave my hometown, we still have at least 10 cafes to compare during our visit.

captive_crunch

Ginger crunches in captivity.

In honour of Waitangi Day and to be a fair and balanced blog between NY and NZ and their respective savoury and sweet slices, we present this recipe from the Edmonds Cookery Book (a NZ touchstone), first published in 1908.

Ginger Crunch: makes 24 slices Prep time:15 mins Cooking time: 20-25 mins

Base

125 g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups standard plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Icing
75 g butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
3 teaspoons ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and ginger together.
  3. Mix into creamed mixture.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead well.
  5. Press dough into a greased  20 x 30cm (8×12 inch) sponge roll tin.
  6. Bake at 190C (375F) for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.
  7. When there is about 5 minutes of cooking time left, combine butter, icing sugar, golden syrup and ginger.
  8. Heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly.
  9. Pour hot ginger icing over base while still warm and cut into squares before it gets cold (about 20-30 mins).

*Under no circumstances do we endorse this as health food, but it does conform to Michael Pollan’s first rule in his book “Food Rules”: Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Well, my grandmother certainly recognized this as food so we’re good.

The cafe product – often good, sometimes spectacular:

Finished_crunch

And our finished product?  Pretty good, but more sampling on the next trip to NZ is needed for comparison and inspiration.

Finished_crunch

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