Zenzerin are rustic biscuits of unique flavour, in which the ingredients – wholemeal emmer flour, cane sugar and ginger – are perfectly balanced.
Though strong, the ginger flavour is delicate and never invasive on the palate, and lingers for a few minutes after tasting.
Ginger biscuits are popular all over the world and come in many and various versions.
They are typical, above all, of the countries of Northern Europe, but it’s not rare either to find unique variations on the theme at lower latitudes.
Their origin may date to the 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth I of England served her guests figure-shaped biscuits aromatised with ginger.
These gingerbread men subsequently gave rise to innumerable breads, biscuits and cakes aromatised with ginger.
These confections are eaten mostly in given periods of the year, during pagan festivities like Halloween or religious ones such as Christmas and Easter.
AREA OF PRODUCTION
Zenzerin are a creation of the pastry chef Gianfranco Tibaldi of Alba (Cuneo, Italy), which is thus the area of production.
Wholemeal emmer flour 50%, cane sugar, corn seed oil, water, candied ginger, powdered ginger, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda.
The flour is strictly organic and is acquired from two of the finest local mills:
Mulino Marino Felice in Cossano Belbo, Piedmont, Italy.
A mill producing natural stone-ground organic flour, conferred with a Piedmont Regional Authority certificate for ‘Artisanal Excellency’;
Mulino Sobrino in La Morra, Piedmont, Italy.
A mill producing flours from the finest Langa soft grain varieties, involved in a research project designed to revive and reuse heirloom native soft grain varieties.
Sustainable, ethically selected high-quality sugar from Soc. coop. sociale Libero Mondo, a social cooperative in Bra, Piedmont, Italy.
Supplied by the historic Sardo e Quaglia grocery in Bra (Piedmont, Italy), birthplace of the Slow Food movement.
CREAM OF TARTAR
A natural raising agent extracted from grapes. It starts the leavening process, if combined with bicarbonate of soda.
Zenzerin biscuits are produced by pastry chef Gianfranco Tibaldi in his ‘Laboratorio di pasticceria artigianale Tibo’ workshop at Strada dei Magliani 47 Frazione Scaparoni, Alba, Piedmont, Italy.
In his small workshop, in addition to traditional Piedmontese confectionery, he produces unique creations such as this.
Gianfranco Tibaldi refuses to compromise over the quality of his ingredients and produces everything himself, entirely by hand and with huge passion.
The wholemeal emmer flour, cane sugar, powdered ginger, cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda are blended in a mixer.
The oil and the candied ginger fruit, cut up into small pieces with a special knife, are folded into the mixture.
Then, last of all, water is added.
When the mixture has reached the right consistency, it is removed from the mixer and left to rest for about 10 minutes.
Using special biscuit cutters, it is cut into rounds.
Each biscuit is stamped by hand and baked in the oven for about 15 minutes at 160°C.
PERIOD OF PRODUCTION
Zenzerin are produced continuously and may be bought and consumed all year round.
The biscuits, which are free from preservatives, have an average life of 180 days from their date of production (check the ‘best before’ date on the box).
Zenerzin are excellent at teatime or to damp the appetite at any time of day.
Gianfranco Tibaldi says that you should meditate while you prepare the candied ginger for Zenzerin, otherwise you feel like an idiot!
But if you simply want to enjoy the biscuits, he suggests listening to ‘I Put a Spell on You’ by Screaming Jay Hawkins as you do.