Initially when I thought about what I would bake to produce a “classic” version of this iconic Kiwi slice, I was going to stick to a recipe that combines Helen Jackson’s, Al Brown’s, and the Edmonds Cookery Book from 1956.
It has a shortbread base, and uses powdered ginger.
I started by creaming the butter and sugar together, rather than rubbing them in, before adding the dries.
Once it was nice and crumbly, I turned it out into my baking dish. Now, unfortunately, none of my baking trays were the right size, but my glass casserole dish was approximately right, so I went with that.
I didn’t knead the “dough” at all, which most traditional recipes call for – it was really quite crumbly, so I used the back of a spoon to pat it down.
Then into the 180 degree oven for 25 minutes. With the timer showed ten minutes to go, I measured out all my icing ingredients into a small pot, and brought them to a simmer while stirring.
Once the base was golden brown and delicious, I removed it from the oven and immediately poured the icing over the top.
I was actually worried there wouldn’t be enough of it, and had to smooth some around a bit with my spatula to ensure even coverage.
Then into the fridge to chill until set, before slicing up!
Honestly, I was pretty pleased with how it came out. The base had a really nice snap to it and the icing wasn’t too thick, so I wasn’t overwhelmed by the sweetness.
But something was bothering me….
As I was baking my one “classic” Ginger Crunch with it’s shortbread-powdered ginger base and boiled-powdered ginger icing that was added while everything was hot, I felt it wouldn’t be a fair experiment if I didn’t also do a version with oats. After all, I’d be asking people to try this and tell me what they thought – if I didn’t include a whipped icing and an oaty base, a whole demographic of Ginger Crunch fans might feel disenfranchised. And as a Yank, staring midterm elections in the face, during what is possibly the longest political dumpster fire in our country’s modern history, I am all about enfranchisement. So I rustled up the recipe for the first ginger crunch I had ever tried, which was from my first employer here in New Zealand.
Not only does the base include oats and coconut but it also uses crystallized ginger and doesn’t require a mixer. Instead, you combine the dries into one bowl. Then melt the butter and golden syrup together in the microwave and mix it into the dries.
The whole thing gets pressed into a baking tray – I used my slightly smaller glass baking dish, since this recipe is meant to produce a thicker base. Then into the 180 degree oven for 27 minutes.
Once it was golden brown and delicious, I removed it from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for a bit until I felt it was safe to put it in my refrigerator. This slice gets iced cold.
It took a wee while for it to come down to a decent temperature – my fridge isn’t very powerful, I admit. But eventually, although it didn’t feel cold, it no longer felt warm, so I felt I could now make the icing and spread it on and let it chill the rest of the way.
For the icing, I combined powdered ginger with icing sugar in the bowl of my mixer and, in a glass jug (measuring cup for the Yanks), melted the butter and golden syrup together, again using the microwave. Then turning the mixer on low, I poured the hot wets into the dries, and increased the speed to medium.
I was astonished at how quickly the icing turned into a paste. I spread it on the cooling base, dotting it with chopped crystallized ginger, and let it chill completely before slicing.
It definitely looks…chunkier than the first one, but still pretty damn sexy.
The verdict: Happily, everyone I shared the slices with with found something to love, and it was unanimous that at the very least, after four years of working in food in New Zealand, I can make a decent Ginger Crunch.
Here’s the first recipe:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (approx 350F).
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and ground ginger. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and fold together on low speed until texture resembles coarse crumbs.
Spray/grease and line your chosen baking sheet with baking paper – I recommend one that is about 20×30 or 20×25 (that’s about 8×12 or 8×10 for you folks in inches). Tip the crumbly dough into the baking tray/dish and pat flat – I used the back of a spoon and my fingers.
Bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Towards the end of the baking time, in a small pot over medium heat, stir together all the ingredients for the icing and allow to come to a simmer. Remove from heat.
When the base is done, remove from the oven and immediately pour the icing over, spreading with a spatula as necessary. Allow to cool on the bench/kitchen counter until room temperature, and then chill the rest of the way in the fridge.
Turn out and slice. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (if it lasts that long).
Here’s the second recipe:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (about 350F).
In a small bowl, combine the rolled oats, flour, coconut, baking powder, and chopped crystallized ginger.
Toast the almonds in the oven, then add to the dries. In a microwave save vessel, combine the butter, sugar, and golden syrup – microwave until all melted. Pour into the dries and stir – I find my hands work well for this mixture as well.
Spray/grease and line your chosen baking sheet with baking paper – I recommend choosing one that is slightly smaller than for the previous recipe. Tip the crumbly dough into the baking tray/dish and pat flat – a greased spatula is good for this.
Bake at 180 degrees for about 27 minutes. Once it’s GBD (remember?), remove from heat and leave to cool on your bench/kitchen counter until room temp.
Once the base is at room temp, measure out the icing sugar and ginger for the icing into the bowl of a stand mixer. Measure the butter and golden syrup for the icing into a microwave safe vessel and heat on high until all melted. Put the mixer on low and begin adding the wets into the dries. Gradually increase speed to medium and let whip until the texture changes and becomes less wet and more paste-y.
Stop the mixer, and scoop the icing onto the base, spreading with a greased spatula. Remove the whole thing to the fridge to chill completely before slicing.
Will keep for a week in an airtight container. Maybe.
And remember how I said that Ginger Crunch *wasn’t* a breakfast cereal? Turns out I’m wrong…SOMEONE got into the offcuts from my portioning the prototypes and discovered that if you crumble them up…and add milk… yeah. That happened. I’m both proud and horrified.
Up Next: I come up with a Yank version of Ginger Crunch