These are a classic roll ’em and cut ’em out biscuit. They are plain, in that they are vanilla flavoured, although the recipe suggests you could add some finely chopped nuts or coconut to the recipe. I’ve never tried this, and not sure it would be worth it. Sometimes you are just in the mood for an ordinary biscuit.
175g / 7oz SR flour
pinch of salt
25g / 1oz cornflour
100g / 4oz butter
100g / 4oz caster sugar
1 egg (or it says you can use 2 egg yolks, which I guess would work if you were making meringues, or a mousse)
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
a little milk
More caster sugar, or glace icing for dredging once they are cooked
Grease 2 or 3 baking sheets. Oven 200ºC / 400ºF / Gas Mark 6.
- Sift the flour, salt and cornflour into a bowl. I don’t think you need to do this any more. This is an old book – I must have bought it in 1979 – and in those days the flour needed to be sifted. The milling process has since improved and there is less need to sift flour for baking).
- Add the butter in wee chunks (straight from the fridge, it works best if cold) and rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Try to add air into the mixture at this stage, by lifting your hands up from the mixture to rub, and letting it drizzle back down through your fingers.
- Beat together the egg and the vanilla essence and add to the mixture.
- Mix together and slightly knead to form a fairly soft dough. Add a little milk if necessary.
- Wrap in cling film or foil and leave to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 5mm / 1/4″ thick. Use whatever cookie cutters you have to cut shapes (preferably about 5cm / 2″ diameter) and place on the baking sheets.
- Bake in the pre-heated moderately hot oven for 8 – 10 mins or until lightly golden brown.
- Remove to a wire rack and either dredge with caster sugar while still warm, or wait until they cool and ice with glace icing.
This should make 30 – 40 biscuits.
This recipe is from one of my oldest and most loved and used recipe books: Cakes and Cake Decorating by Rosemary Wadey. I bought it when I was in my early teens, and spent many a happy weekend and evening trying out new recipes. I ticked each recipe off as I tried it at one point, but sadly left no notes, or other comment, such as a date.
I fell in love with the Grantham Gingers, a surprisingly hollow wee dome shaped biscuit, light and crisp, and delicately gingery. And then there were the Danish Pastries – a triumph! And after my grandfather died, I made virtually every teabread in the book for his wake. Perhaps it was then that I first discovered the therapeutic power of getting into the kitchen and baking.