Yes, that’s right we’ve immortalised Shakespeare in the form of a gingerbread biscuit – crisp, spicy and the taste of Christmas in one beautiful bite. Our Literary Manager, Jess (with the help of her furry assistant, Maestro), has been busy in the kitchen concocting this exceptional gingerbread recipe for Globe Advent. Enjoy!
13 | CHRISTMAS BAKE: SHAKESPEARE GINGERBREAD BISCUITS.
Globe Advent 13
‘An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread’
Of course, we can’t assume that Costard – Shakespeare’s clown-ish country bumpkin from Love’s Labour’s Lost – represents Shakespeare’s own taste in biscuits, but I like to think that gingerbread might have been a favourite of Will’s, too.
Although the traditional Elizabethan recipe involved stale white bread, red wine and fresh ginger – sound appealing? No, I didn’t think so either. Sorry Will.
So instead, like a modern-day Goldilocks, I have tried various recipes until I found the recipe that is just right.
I like my gingerbread to be a bit soft rather than dentist-inducingly firm. I also like mine with a real kick of ginger, but if you want less of a kick and more of hum just use 3 teaspoons of ground ginger rather than 4.
This recipe is incredibly easy. You mix the wet ingredients together, then mix the dry ingredients together and then whack ‘em all in one bowl while the scent of Christmas-spiced flour drifts through your kitchen…
Jess’ Shakespeare gingerbread biscuits
350g Plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp ground ginger (warning: 4 is quite punchy, you may prefer a little less)
4 tbsp golden syrup
125g salted butter
175g dark muscovado sugar
Plus icing sugar to decorate our biscuit-Shakespeares
And last, but not least, the all important Shakespeare cookie-cutters (we supported small businesses on Etsy for ours!)
In a big bowl mix the wet ingredients together.
Start by beating the butter until it’s smooth and a slightly lighter colour, I’d advise using an electric hand-held mixer here but you can just use a whisk and some good old elbow-grease.
Add the muscovado sugar and golden syrup until you have a lovely golden brown, creamy mixture. Crack in your egg and combine, scraping all the forgotten loveliness from the sides of the bowl.
In a separate bowl mix your dry ingredients together. Start by sifting your flour, then add your bicarb of soda and all the spices, giving them a good mix with a spoon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix, do this gradually. You may decide to ditch the wooden spoon and just use your hands at this point – it’s much more satisfying.
The dough will probably be very sticky and that’s just what we want. Grab some cling film and wrap it up tightly before popping it in the fridge. Some recipes say chill it for 15 minutes, some say 1 hour, some say overnight. I suggest anywhere between 1 hour and overnight is just right!
Preheat oven to 180c and put some baking paper on two flat baking trays. Take your dough out of the fridge and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out your gingerbread dough until it’s about half a centimetre thick. (You might need quite a lot of flour, as the dough will still be quite sticky.) Use your Shakespeare cookie-cutters to create your biscuit shapes, and then pop them in the oven for about 12 minutes.
Once they’re golden brown but still a little soft to the touch, place them on a cooling rack ready for icing. Mix your icing sugar with water according to packet instructions.
Decorate your Shakespeare biscuits – we’ve outlined Shakespeare’s silhouette, added a moustache and shirt buttons to ours!
Then gobble them up with your choice of festive tipple!
An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread
— Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act V scene 1