Golden syrup is used to make modern brandy snaps but the original brandy snaps sold at fairs were made from treacle. They were a particular favourite at the Hull fair which has been around in one guise or another since 1278 (you can read more about the fair’s colourful past here). Brandy snaps are still made and (to my knowledge) sold at the fair by Wright & Co today.
Demerara sugar is essential to achieve the lacy effect but you can substitute golden syrup for the treacle if you prefer.
This recipe is based on one by May Byron from 1915 and features in my book First Catch Your Gingerbread. You really do need asbestos fingers to create the rolled wafer effect (for which I use the handle of a wooden spoon). Alternatively, you could drape them over a rolling pin or just leave the lacy discs to harden as they are. You can fill them with brandy flavoured cream or plain along side ice cream or even a cup of coffee.
The 2021 Hull Fair will start on Friday, October 8 and will run until Saturday, October 16.
Ingredients – Makes 18-20
50g unsalted butter
50g treacle (or golden syrup)
50g demerara sugar
A few drops orange or lemon extract (optional)
1 tsp ground ginger
50g plain flour
Brandy cream filling ingredients (optional)
300ml double cream
2 tbsp brandy
3-4 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
¼ tsp vanilla extract and a couple of pinches ground ginger (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180℃. Have a couple of wooden spoons ready to curl the snaps around when they come out of the oven.
Melt the butter, treacle and sugar in a small saucepan. Add a few drops of orange or lemon extract (if using) then stir in the ginger and flour.
Drop teaspoons of the mixture on a baking sheet lined with silicone or nonstick paper making sure they are well spaced (once again you will need to bake in batches). Bake for 6-7 minutes. As these wafers contain treacle it is very tricky to see whether they are burning so watch them carefully. If they look black they are probably burnt! Remove from he oven and wait for a minute or two for the biscuits to harden slightly. Quickly remove them from the baking sheet with a palate knife and wrap each one around the handle of a wooden spoon (you should be able to get at least two per spoon) or a small rolling pin (I use one from a child’s cooking kit). Don’t wrap them too tightly otherwise you won’t be able to take them off without breaking them. If they start to get too hard on the baking sheet, return them briefly to the oven to make the mixture pliable again.
If you want to fill them with brandy flavoured cream, place all of the ingredients in a bowl. Whip to soft peaks then pipe into the cooled brandy snaps. (This is best done just prior to eating them).