I am a Ginger who happens to love ginger. Considering my sensitivity to spice, I surprise myself with how much I enjoy a really fiery ginger ale like Boylan's or a heavily spiced gingerbread. Although I have been fortunate enough to have spent a considerable amount of time in England (the perks of being a Dickens scholar and having a terrific friend who lets me stay with her in South Kensington), I had never encountered Cornish fairings. Maybe I was distracted by all the Millionaire's Shortbread, of which I consumed roughly a million pieces per visit.
The word "fairing" originally referred to any sort of goody vended at British fairs but eventually came to specifically represent a type of biscuit or cookie usually made with ginger or other baking spices. The "Cornish fairing" became a household name in the late nineteenth century when one intrepid Cornish manufacturer began mass producing them for mail orders.
Golden syrup can be found online, or at most shops that specialize in foreign and/or British comestibles, like Rice Village's The British Isles Shop. You can use maple syrup, but the extra investment/errand is worth it for its distinctive, buttery, honey taste.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup caster (very fine) sugar
5 tbs golden syrup
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
4. With a sturdy spatula, add butter in small chunks until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Small, greasy ones, that is.
5. Add in sugar. Then gradually stir in golden syrup.
6. Flour your hands slightly, then shape dough into a large ball. Refrigerate for about 30 min.
7. Place golf ball-size pieces of dough on cookie sheets, leaving ample room in between.
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until balls have spread flat, turned golden brown, and assumed a crinkly surface texture.
9. Cool on wire racks. Enjoy with a cuppa.*
*That means 'tea' in British.