Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ginger Nuts - Two Fails.

Ginger Nuts (Miss Jean Murray)
pg 19
  •  226g butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tab golden syrup
  • 2 cups S. R. Flour
Grease a cookie tray and preheat the oven to a 180 degrees C.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the ground ginger and mix through.  Add golden syrup and flour and mix through on a moderate speed.  

Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto greased trays.  Bake for 15min.

Now this recipe is simple enough - so I'm still a bit sour that I messed it up so badly twice over.   

Let me explain....

 The first time I attempted this recipe I thought I'd be smart and use the Thermomix I had on loan.  For those not in the know, a Thermomix (TM) is a very fancy kitchen device which can mill, mix, weigh and heat all in the same bowl.  I thought using the TM to make the recipe might help with reducing mess.   I weighed ingredients in the TM then used it to cream and mix the ingredients (adding in order according to the recipe).   All seemed fine.  The batter was the right consistency for drop cookies, that is, a little firm but soft enough to spoon onto trays. 

But then 5 minutes into cooking time I smelled disaster.  The cookies had melted into discs, merging with each other and were entirely burned underneath.

These were inedible - and it was the same for each batch.   I considered that the TM had been a bit overzealous in creaming the mixture and the friction of it's strong motor had heated the butter too much causing the spread.

(Note - this kind of spread of cookie dough is often caused by the butter being too warm or the tray being to warm.   I put these cookies onto cold trays that were not pre-heated so that meant it was the butter.  I had put the butter directly from the fridge into the TM so that meant that it was the TM that had warmed it.)

So - I tried a second time, on a different day, but this time I used normal scales and electric mixer - but only half the ingredients.

And oddly, I got an entirely different batter mixture.   I had to press the crumbly mixture into balls and flatten them on the baking trays - which is not consistent with the recipe at all.

I forged on regardless and ended up with some spectacularly tasty cookies.  They had a beautiful cracked appearance and were very firm on the outside but softer inside.  But I can't help think that I somehow messed something up and this wasn't how they were 'supposed to be'. 

About Miss Jean Murray

The lovely lady from the Tabernacle Baptist Church who met with me didn't have any information about Miss Jean Murray - so I'm left to find what I can through accessible public records like online newpapers to find any hint about this particular girl.

And there were plenty of mentions of Miss Jean Murrays in the Brisbane Courier Mail in the 1930s/40s!  There was a Miss Jean M. Murray and a Miss Jean E. Murray and so forth!  With so many Miss Jean Murrays it was impossible to determine which was our Jean.

I now know that the cookbook was published in 1941 and that the recipes were donated by ladies active in the church, not from further afield so I limited my articles to those in Brisbane in 1935 - 1944.

There was mention of a Miss Jean Murray who was part of the Fairholme Old Girls' Association.  She spent an evening knitting for the war effort in Clayfield according to this article in September 1940.   (As a bonus, the article underneath is instructions on how to crochet a really cute turned turban!  I'd like to give it a go!)

There was also mention of a Miss Jean Murray who acted in two 'Scottish plays', one in 1939 and the other in 1941

A Miss Jean Murray hosted an luncheon at Rowes for her friend Miss Barber to celebrate her upcoming wedding in 1940.  With pink rosebud sprays on the table too!    I have never considered Rowes as a lovely place to entertain - it's since become a nightclub - but this is the second mention found during this project of dainty celebrations held at that venue. 

The most exciting article for me was one that had a romantic story and even a photo!   Could this be the face our Miss Jean Murray?  Though I'd like to think so, the story has her marrying in the Ann Street Presbyterian Church and I find it unlikely that our Jean Murray of the Baptist Church would marry in a different church, so close to her own.

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