With the UK COVID lockdown comes some benefits which for me have included a reminder of the pleasure available from a good dunk! There have been opportunities to both practice technique and savour the optimum results.
For anyone who is not aware dunking is
The practice of immersing a biscuit(*) in a hot drink for just long enough to soften it before eating.
* for US readers a biscuit, in this case, is a cookie!
A failed dunk is when the softened biscuit breaks either while in the drink or during transfer to your mouth.
Now there are many possible biscuits that can be used and a variety of drinks, but I will focus on what I believe to be the premiere and optimum combination, namely a cup/mug of hot English Breakfast tea and a ginger nut biscuit. By and large, it doesn’t matter which brand of ginger nut as there is considerable consistency across brands; the key is that it be a “hard” ginger nut and not another sort of ginger biscuit.
Why is that the premiere combination? Well, tea is wetter than coffee or hot chocolate and the more moderate flavour complements the ginger better. Also, I find the heat of the tea tends to amplify the ginger flavour of the biscuit. As to the biscuit, the hard dense texture of the ginger nut has structural integrity that allows for the finest of dunking without an undue risk of failure. Additionally, the ginger nut is of a size that allows consumption in one bite, thus avoiding the hideous and risky practice of double dunking!!
I am sure some readers will advocate different combinations, but in my opinion, they are lesser options promoted because of a preference for alternate flavours but come with the price of a poorer dunking experience.
For anyone interest in trying to dunk for the first time or those looking to refine their technique, there are three key factors to a good dunk; the grip, the dip, and the transfer.
Looking at the grip first, the objective is to be able to effect maximum immersion without losing grip of the biscuit AND keeping the dipper’s fingers dry.
It is worth thinking of the biscuit as having three zones;
The objective is to maximise the wet zone while minimising the other two.
Best practice dictates a finger and thumb grip that just reaches across the bevel at the edge of the biscuit. Relying upon a “flat” grip that includes any significant element to the flat of face and back of the biscuit is just lazy, but acceptable for beginners as they hone their skill.
(NB: The grip in the title graphic is less than ideal as it encroaches the flat sides.)
Now with a good grip we can move to the dunk. This should be achieved in a swift single smooth action that immerses as much of the biscuit as possible while leaving a minimal dry zone. The importance of pace is that the biscuit will immediately start to take on tea on contact with the surface. A slow dunk can lead to a differential absorption between the leading edge and the upper part of the biscuit requiring either early withdrawal (a sub-optimal dunk) or risking edge loss (bad form!).
The next key element is the duration of the dunk. This is a matter of practice and will become natural in time. I recommend mental counting; I usually go for a count of 5, but this needs to be adjusted for your personal pace of counting.
Immediately I reach 5, I start the transfer. The imperative for smooth movements is greater at this point as the structural integrity of the ginger nut has now been compromised close to failure. Sharp movements will impart undue stress and increase the risk of fracture which could result in re-entry to the tea or an embarrassing mess.
With mouth open and ready the dunked biscuit can be inserted and savoured. The biscuit retains a little crunch in the grip and dry zones, but there will likely be a little dunk creep into the dry zone. Careful use of this can add to the optimal dunk, but beware that reckless reliance on this additional benefit risks failure.
Personally, I enjoy the crunch (the grip and dry zones) with a tongue crush of the wet zone to release maximum flavour and pleasure.
The pace of transfer is also important as the structural integrity will continue to diminish following withdrawal from the tea, as will dunk creep into the dry zone. The shorter the transfer time, the greater the immersion time a dunk master can deliver.
So now it just behoves me to leave the reader to practice and wish you all happy dunking.
Ian J Sutherland is a highly skilled director with expertise in governance, partnerships and regulation and almost four decades of experience serving as a powerful catalyst for change for organisations of all sizes and sectors. He thrives on identifying areas for innovation and improvement, forming effective strategies to drive efficiency and create bottom-line results. He has a proven capacity to serve as a bridge between organisations and functions, creating unity and operational coherence. A personable and creative leader, with a unique insight and the ability to see the big picture and provide constructive challenge, he writes on many matters including the delivery of change in today's world and is an opportunistic photographer who seeks to capture images that interest him. He enjoys good beer, good company and good music - not necessarily in that order.