“ Brand: Sainsbury's / Type: Ginger „
There's a scene in "I Don't Know How She Does It", a novel by Alison Pearson that is a manifesto for working mums, that I love. Poor beleagured mum, faced with having to provide the goods for yet another cake sale takes a rolling pin to shop bought mince pies in the wee hours to make them look home made. I've never quite resorted to these lengths whilst trying to do it all, though I have a friend who gets her kids to decorate shop-bought fairy cakes for cake sales (cunning eh?), and now, with the advent of this ready made gingerbread dough from Sainsbury's I won't have to. This gingerbread dough block means you can whip up a batch of biscuits just like homemade by opening a packet and supplying the kids with a rolling bin and cutters. Genius.
The dough costs £2, which is more expensive than ready made gingerbread men might be, however the ingredients in the dough are exactly what I would use myself to make from scratch and it saves on writing off the kitchen and is great if you are in a hurry. The ingredients list includes flour (British to boot apparently), golden syrup, sugar, butter and pasteurised free range egg along with mixed spice and preservative. I particularly like the fact that the dough is made with butter and not oil, it's a short ingredient list which, to me, is always a good sign that there are not too many hidden nasties. The level of salt is reassuringly low - they are quite high on fat and sugar but then that is kind of what you would expect from biscuits.
There is 350g of product in the plastic packet which has to be kept refrigerated and removed from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to use it. The dough is fairly stiff but rolls out well without falling to bits, unlike my home-made if I get the consistency wrong, and it is easy to cut. The instructions say to use a floured board but in my experience you can get away with rolling it straight out. The packaging states that you can make 8 biscuits, this is probably a bit misleading, they would have to be huge monster gingerbread men. We can make 30 or more smaller biscuits, and this keeps the children quiet, happy and occupied for ages whilst I get on with other things, like enjoying the fact that we are baking and there isn't flour all over the floor.
The biscuits cook in the stated 8-10 minutes, and then once cooled we like to decorate them. Taste wise, well they taste like home-made, fresh biscuits. They are slightly crunchy but a little chewy at the same time just like the ones I would make myself, and nice and light texture wise with just the right amount of spice. I find that the finished biscuits store well and don't have to be eaten at once, though generally they disappear pretty quickly. The packaging doesn't state whether they can be frozen once made, but the dough (which has a couple of weeks "use by" on it generally) can be, so I assume it would be alright.
I think this dough is an excellent product if you want to bake with kids the easy way without mess. The finished item tastes good and is far nicer than what you might produce with some of the baking kits that are on the market - I always avoid the cupcake ones as the results are pretty unpleasant and eating them once sent my child a little bit loopy. I'm happy to recommend this dough though, which you will find in the aisle next to ready made pastry - I'm hoping it might just save another busy mum from bake sale anguish. Though I don't intend to stop making things from scratch with my kids I will definitely be using this again and it will be the base of our annual Gingerbread House this year I think, because sometimes if you want to do it all you have to cut a few corners. With this product you can do just that and no one will ever know.