We were completely alone, Lulubelle and I. Old Spouse was off carousing at some year-end function, O Bunn was at a birthday party and Diski had found a hole in the fence and gone to visit with the dogs next door. I wasn’t as glum as Lulubelle at being the only ones home, but I was a bit grumpy at the prospect of not being able to have my customary Friday night glass of wine; the Bunn’s party would end at 9pm and one really can’t take the chance of drinking and driving, even with the party house being just a few blocks away.
There was nothing for it but to bake away the time, with forays to the lounge to watch the progress of Celebrity Masterchef UK. I got a bit tearful when old Paul Young was sent off; affable bloke, but the years have not been kind to his face. In the kitchen I spotted a bottle of blackstrap molasses that I bought on a whim some time back. I’d seen it in the supermarket and instantly had a flood of memories about my Grandpa’s farm. He always had a gallon-drum of the stuff standing just inside the kitchen door. I think he gave it to the cows every morning as a sort of booster, but my Grandma used it too, for all manner of things. She’d put a saucer of it on the windowsill on days when the flies were really bad, the flies would gravitate to it and get stuck and there’d be a heaving mass like something from Dante’s Inferno by mid-afternoon. She also baked molasses cookies, a bitter-sweet confection that confused my young tastebuds.
I’ve come to love these biscuits; the spicy crunch is just perfect for vanilla ice cream sandwiches.
My recipe comes from Joy of Cooking, but I know it so well that I seldom refer to the book when making it.
¾ cup butter and 1 cup sugar, beaten until fluffy.
Add in and beat well:
2 cups flour, ½ tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 large egg, ¼ cup molasses, 1 tsp baking powder.
You’re left with a soft dough, refrigerate for an hour until firm and workable, then form into small balls and coat with sugar. Set on a baking tray an inch apart and bake at 180C for 10 minutes. The biscuits will harden on cooling.