Cornish Fairings

Sunday 5 September 2010

One thing that I have enjoyed since moving over here to the UK, is learning about and how to cook traditional dishes from all over this wonderful land. There is a wonderful variety of recipes available and most are steeped in wonderful history and tradition.

I just love learning the traditions and histories of different food stuffs, don't you?

Over here in the UK they call cookies biscuits and there are many delicious and scrummy regional varieties.

Like these Cornish Fairings . . . a sweet and gingery biscuit commonly found in Cornwall. Their name is said to have orginated due to their having been sold at feeast and fair days down in Cornwall. A 'fairing' is basically any type of gift bought at a fair, edible or otherwise!

Most town or village fairs over here have a certain type of food attributed to them and more often than they are spicy things . . . probably going back to Medieval times when spices were greatly loved and widely used.

According to Wikepedia, this particular recipe is reputed to have originated at the "maid hiring" fair, held the week after Christmas in Launceston.

Whatever their origin, they are quite tasty! Kind of like a spicy gingernut biscuit, but with added little bits of candied mixed peel.

Very easy to make, quick to bake and really scrummy with a hot cup of tea, herbal or otherwise I am sure!

*Cornish Fairings*
Makes 20
Printable Recipe

A traditional biscuit from the West Country. Sweet and spicy, with the added surprise of chopped mixed peel. Using two sources of raising agents makes the biscuits crack. Scrummy!!

100g plain flour (about 3/4 cup)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
40g of caster sugar (about 1/4 cup)
50g of unsalted butter, chilled and diced ( 3 1/2 TBS)
1 TBS very finely diced mixed peel
3 TBS golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Butter several baking sheets and set aside.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl along with the salt, baking powder, soda, ginger and mixed spice. Stir in the sugar. Drop in the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the mixed peel and then the golden syrup, mixing it all to a stiff dough.

Using your hands, roll the dough into 20 marble sized balls. Place them well apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 7 minutes until golden brown and cracked on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for several minutes before scooping off to finish cooling on a wire rack. Let cool completely and then store in an airtight container.


  1. Oh, thank-you! One of my VERY favorite things is when you tell us about traditional British foods--I love that so much!

    These look wonderful--I LOVE ginger! I will be making these so very soon! It's so fun to taste things that have a history, don't you think?

    Hope you're having a wonderful day--must be pretty early for you right now! Have a beautiful Sabbath, my dear friend!


  2. Gotta try these. Very much like a ginger cookie I make but these look SOOO good! What are the peels?

  3. These look wonderful! I do have a question, though. What is mixed spice? Does it have a different name (or at least a substitute) in North America?

  4. Mixed spice, also called pudding spice, is a British blend of sweet spices, similar to pumpkin pie spice, an American blend of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. It is often used to complement fruits or other sweet foods. It is a mixture of ground coriander, cinnamon, cassia, ginger, caraway, nutmeg and cloves. HOpe this helps mskelli

  5. Susan, mixed peel is what is called candied citrus peel in North America. The mixed part refers to the use of peels from a variety of fruits. It provides your dish with the sweetness of the candied coating and the tartness of the citrus peel. Candied fruit is made by infusing the fruit with a mixture of sugar and corn syrup, and is available in North America as candied orange, lemon, and citron peels, sometimes separate, sometimes mixed. You can also make your own. Here is a link to the recipe:
    Hope this helps! also I think that in this recipe if you didn't have the peel you could just grate in the zest of half a lemon and half an orange instead. It wouldn't be exactly like the original, but very close.

  6. Love the look of these Marie!

  7. Oh, these look lovely. I love a traditional British recipe but I've never heard of these. So I'll have to give them a try by way of introduction!

  8. I'm going to have to make these for the origin alone. My home town back in Tassie is Launceston (we prononuce it differently to the Launceston over here!
    Great post ;0)

  9. Love the history Marie!! These look like a wonderful cookie with an afternoon tea or coffee
    xoxo Pattie

  10. A hint of spice and peel... Oh, I love the sound of these, Marie! Just the thing, a tiny sweet to go along with a cuppa--perfick! ;o) Happy Day, dear friend--LOVE YOU LOTS ((BIG HUGS))

  11. My uncle lives in Cornwall! So now you know I must try these! :)

  12. mmmmm.... would be lovely with Cornish cream :-)

  13. OMG, I love biscuits... especially ginger ones. These have just gone to the top of my 'to bake today' list :-) Marie, I moved the other way, from the Wirral to Edmonton, Alberta. Liking it so far, but I do miss good old British cooking, and your blog is a godsend.

    Love it, love it, love it!!!


  14. These were very tasty. I had trouble stopping mine from being very thin though. Also, do you mean mixed spice or allspice? I think it would work well with allspice.

  15. Hi David, mixed spice, also called pudding spice, is a British blend of sweet spices, similar to pumpkin pie spice, an American blend of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. It is often used to complement fruits or other sweet foods.It is a mixture of ground coriander, cinnamon, cassia, ginger, caraway, nutmeg and cloves. Not sure why you have the problem with them being very thin. I am stumped with that one. Hope this helps!

  16. I have just found your blog and love it! I am a Brit who has lived in the USA (Minnesota)for the past 18 years. I love my English cooking, cookery books and everything about my traditions. Thank you for your blog and for 'debunking' some of the myths about what I consider to be full, flavorsome meals! First blog I have ever added to my Bookmarks! Thank you!

    Patricia Sweeney

  17. I have made these lovely biscuits but my husband does not like peal so I chopped candid ginger not to much they are lovely

  18. Hi Marie,
    My husband, who is English, and I, used your recipe and our fairings came out even better than the ones we bought on our trip to the Lizard. Can't wait to try more of your scrumptious recipes. Thanks for creating such a great blog!

  19. So happy you enjoyed this Rosa and many thanks for your lovely comments! xx


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