My friend (and fellow Bellowhead fan) Gill has requested a recipe for melt-in-the-mouth biscuits. I can’t say no to a fellow-folky, so I’ve trawled through a few of my recipe books and come up with this, which is based on a recipe from Jane Grigson’s English Food. It’s pretty Hedonistic stuff (that’s a Bellowhead-related quip).. so these are most definitely biscuits to share!
The quantities given here makes a LOT of dough, but this is the bonus factor of the recipe – the dough can be kept in the fridge (for 2 weeks) or freezer (for a couple of months), ready to slice, so that you have a supply of biscuits pretty much at your fingertips.
You can also divide the dough and flavour it in different ways, as suggested in the recipe. Just make sure you label your flavoured dough if you aren’t going to use it straight away, unless you don’t mind a surprise. As a rough guide, a quarter of this quantity of dough makes around 24 small (6cm/2.5″ in diameter) biscuits.
The dough needs to be chilled before you use it. You can leave it overnight in the fridge, but if you want your biscuits sooner than that, put your required amount of dough in the coldest part of your freezer until it is cold enough to slice thinly – this took about 30 minutes in my freezer.
250g salted butter (softened)
250g caster sugar
200g plain white flour
100g rice flour (if you don’t have rice flour, you can use 300g plain flour, but the rice flour adds nutritional value & even more crunch)
1 level tsp baking powder
flavouring ingredients of your choice:
per quarter quantity of dough: 1/4 tsp ground ginger or cinnamon; pinch ground cardamom; tsp grated lemon or orange zest; a drop of natural vanilla essence; anything else that takes your fancy.
- Mix all the ingredients except for your chosen flavourings, using a food mixer, an electric hand whisk or a strong arm & wooden spoon.
- Transfer the dough (which is pretty sticky!) onto a floured work surface and divide it into 4 pieces. Flavour each piece as required & knead the flavourings thoroughly into the dough.
- Shape each 1/4 piece of dough into a longish roll with a diameter of around 5 cm or 2 inches. Wrap each piece in greaseproof paper or foil & put some to chill ready to bake (30 minutes in the freezer or overnight in the fridge), and store the rest (wrapped in a polythene bag or other suitable storage) ready for later use.
- When you are ready to bake your biscuits, line 2 baking trays with baking parchment (or lightly grease them) and preheat your oven to 180 C (fan) / 190C / Gas Mark 5.
- Flour your work surface lightly and unwrap your chilled dough. Slice the dough into thin rounds (3-4mm or 1/8 inch), using a sharp knife. If you want lovely round biscuits then it helps to rotate the dough a little after each slice, just so it doesn’t go a bit flat on the bottom.
- Lay the biscuit slices on your prepared baking trays, making sure you leave a little room for them to expand a bit.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. If you don’t have a fan oven (or if you have an oven that tends to hot spots like mine) then swap the 2 trays round after about 4 minutes so that they cook evenly. They are done when they are very lightly coloured.
- Leave the biscuits to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
These should keep well in an airtight box for a few days, but we haven’t had chance to test this yet – I’ll try and let you know but I don’t know how long I can keep them for…