Saturday, 26 January 2008

More Tea, Vicar?

Sometimes, just the name of something is enough to persuade me to make them. This is particularly the case in older cookbooks, where you don't have pictures to talk you into it; if I come across something called English Monkey, I'm writing it down for later. These biscuits are from my Gran's old, handwritten recipe books - Parson's Pleasure.

I'm fighting back that old urge for innuendo, here.

I only found out what the name was about when I took them out of the oven; my mum came into the room and got all excited (yeah, we have that in common), asking, 'is this your gran's recipe for Parson's Pleasure?'. When I nodded, she settled down on the end of the kitchen table (we have that in common, too) to tell me where the name had come from. Basically, she told me, my Gran had come across these biscuits at a Church Fete or something - yes, this is back in the good old days when we British did that sort of thing more often. I'm adding 'more often' as a disclaimer, as I actually live in the sort of village that does hold Church Fetes - when a friend of hers had made them. Everyone was sipping their tea, discussing their knitting and the like (I'm using creative license here) and sampling each other's baking, but the vicar, Mr Wooldridge, was in my mother's words, 'a greedy man', and upon trying these biscuits, had to have another. And another. And another.

I realise I'm retelling some mild gossip from about fifty years ago, here.

Anyway, my mum said, by this point all the old ladies were getting 'all twittery', and elbowing each other, muttering. And so when my Gran got the recipe from her friend, she rechristened the biscuits 'Parson's Pleasure', because she was all cool like that, and had a knack with alliteration and wicked irony. And sure enough, when I looked back at the handwritten recipe, she had written 'Mr Wooldridge!' in brackets at the side of the name.

I'd have called them something like 'ginger crack!biscuits', but this is probably due to the generation gap. Or whatever.

Parson's Pleasure
Recipe from my Gran ^__^
Makes about 16.

150g/ 5oz self-raising flour
120g/ 4oz butter
90g/ 30z caster sugar

A little bag of crystalised ginger
Ground ginger & caster sugar in roll dough in.

1. Mix together the flour, butter and sugar into a dough. Roll into balls with damp hands, and dip them into the mixture of ground ginger & extra sugar (sorry I can't give a proper quantity- just sort of 'flour' your surface with it and roll the balls across.

2. Press the balls onto a greased baking tray, squashing them down a little (they do spread though, so don't flatten them out or anything; I think they look nice small and fat). Put a small piece of crystalised ginger on top of each and cook....

...ah. This is where I introduce you to my Gran's method of recipe writing. She says, 'in a moderate oven', with casual disregard for temperature or timing. I put them at about 190C for roughly ten minutes. Keep an eye on them, cause I take no responsibility for something going wrong as a result of my Gran's scorn for specifics.

Thinking of inviting the vicar round for afternoon tea? Put these out, and if he's anything like Mr. Wooldridge, you're going straight to heaven.


Pixie said...

Great story of where the name of the biscuits came from. I love family recipes best! Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, I shall be doing the same.

Anonymous said...

Hey Indigo,
Love your story about the "Parson's pleasures". Only wish I had found your recipe earlier. They would have been perfect for my "Madhatter's teaparty" I organised.

Anna said...

Pixie - Thanks! Yeah, I love to go through my Gran's old recipes... it always makes me smile when I come across instructions like 'add however much sugar you like' and 'cook in a warm oven for some time' ^__^

R Khooks - Firstly, a Madhatter's Teaparty is SUCH a good idea... definitely putting that on the To Do list, haha. Thanks for commenting!

eatme_delicious said...

What a great story behind these cookies and great name too! :)

Peabody said...

A fun story.
I came over to tell you that a ‘betty’ is a baked pudding, made with layers of sweetened and spiced fruit and buttered bread crumbs. A grunt is a dessert comprised of stewed or baked fruit covered with a rolled biscuit or cookie dough and baked. And a crisp is what a crumble is in your neck of the woods.

Anna said...

Eatme_delicious - thankyou!

Peabody - oh wow! A grunt is kind of like a cobbler here, but I've never seen or eaten anything like a betty... it makes me want to find a recipe and give it a try ^^. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Lovely story behind the name. And nothing quite beats family recipes; all those hand-me-down-from-generations have such a nostalgic feel to them. Thanks for sharing!

Anna said...

Thanks Ovenhaven! Yeah, I think that's mostly what appeals to me from my Gran's recipe books =] I especially love it if it's something I can remember her making, or giving to me.

Anonymous said...


My sister made these for her boyf for his birthday the other day, & today I received a surprise parcel containing lots of Parsons Pleasures, ironically in the box you gave me Christmas fudge in! Seriously tasty, I'm with Mr. Wooldridge on this one,