Monday, 20 February 2012

Shrewsbury Biscuits

Recipe Number One Hundred & Sixty:  Page 202.

I've not made many biscuits of late and I fancied something other than cake. I wanted something to munch on with my afternoon mug of tea. Mary describes these biscuits as having a delicate lemony flavour. I love anything lemony, so I felt very eager to try them.

When I awoke on Saturday morning I was feeling very excited but also a little nervous. Later in the day I would be meeting up with three lovely ladies who happen to be rather keen on baking! We each have our own baking Facebook pages and have encouraged and supported each other from the very beginning. A year later and we were finally going to meet in Oxford for afternoon tea!

I knew I would be too tired to make the biscuits when I returned home in the evening but would most probably be in the mood to eat them! After rolling out of bed, I headed straight down to the kitchen to make a start.

By some small miracle I'd actually remembered to leave the butter out of the fridge overnight, so it was all lovely and soft. I sliced several chunks of butter into a mixing bowl and then tipped in the caster sugar. Mary says to cream until light and fluffy. My muscles were still asleep, so I grabbed hold of my little electric whisk and put it to work. Moments later the butter and sugar were suitably light and fluffy, so it was time to beat in a solitary egg yolk. The white would be put to good use later. I was a little aggrieved to have to sift the plain flour! In most of the Baking Bible recipes sieving is not necessary. The flour is simply weighed straight into the awaiting bowl. As I'm a lazy baker I like this method!

Once I had reluctantly sifted in the plain flour, I moved on to grating and then adding the zest of a lemon. As I haven't used lemon in a recipe for quite some time, I particularly enjoyed the whiff of lemony freshness! I used my wooden spoon to mix everything thoroughly together. The mixture was very dry but I hadn't finished yet! After adding a seemingly small quantity of currants, I measured in a couple of tablespoons of milk. The milk did the trick, and soon the mixture easily combined to form a soft dough. I gave the dough a light knead on the kitchen worktop and was surprised by how easy it was to work. Very little flour was required to roll it out. My fluted cutters were either too big or else smaller than suggested, so I decided to live life on the edge and make two different sizes! As I laid the cut dough onto the baking trays, I couldn't help but compare them to Easter biscuits. They certainly looked very similar to me.

As my biscuits were different sizes I placed them into the oven one after the other on separate trays. They needed to cook for around eight minutes and then come out of the oven to be glazed. This is where the egg white comes in. I quickly brushed the egg white onto each biscuit before sprinkling over a generous amount of caster sugar. Then it was back into the oven for another four or five minutes. It took a while for all the biscuits to cook, and I was aware that the time was ticking on. I still needed to get ready, eeeek! Eventually, all the biscuits were cooked and they could be left to cool on a wire rack. I was very pleased with their appearance; they were a pale golden brown and looked quite pretty. The sprinkled caster sugar still sat proudly atop each biscuit. How did it survive the heat?! Finally I was free to run upstairs and preen myself – I didn't have long!

In a moment of pure insanity I decided to take some of the biscuits with me!! I felt the need to take a homemade gift for the ladies. Unfortunately I didn't have time to hunt for a fancy tin (not that I own one anyway), so I hurriedly threw them into an airtight tub. Maybe I'd be able to find something better in Oxford. I grabbed my camera and coat, gave goodbye kisses to Neil and Isaac and ran out through the door. I was convinced that I would miss the train! I ran along the road, my handbag falling off my shoulder and the oversized carrier bag slamming against my thigh. This was not a good look for me! Luckily this unflattering experience didn't last long as our lovely neighbours were just heading off in their car. Seeing my plight, they very kindly offered me a lift down to the station. I shall be eternally grateful. I feel sure I would have missed the train without their help!!

Once in Oxford the heavens opened, I hoped this wasn't a bad omen! To keep out of the rain I felt forced to take shelter in a bookshop. I tried but failed to resist buying several more baking books – whoops! Soon it was time to make my way for afternoon tea. As I walked along the road it dawned on me that the ladies I was about to meet were all fantastic bakers, way beyond my level. I decided the biscuits would be coming home with me; there was no way I would be sharing them!! Soon I arrived at the beautiful hotel – it was absolutely stunning. Before I'd even had a chance to touch the door handle, the door swiftly opened and I was ushered inside. I was made to feel very important and was even called madam - wow! Thankfully, no mention was made of my dripping umbrella and bags of shopping! The lovely Dor soon arrived and we chatted like we had known each other for years. Jo and Elli came together a little while later. We were all so busy talking that we only managed to take a few photographs! A couple of them are on my Facebook page if you'd like to see them. The tea was lovely, but of course we couldn't help but rate it. Elli mentioned that we should have brought score cards! I can definitely vouch that the scones were particularly good. After a couple of hours of chatter and laughter it was time sadly to say our goodbyes. I think it is safe to say that we all had a wonderful afternoon and would love a chance to do it again one day.

Sitting on the train on my way home I couldn't resist nibbling on a biscuit! I wish I hadn't been so worried about sharing them as they were actually rather yummy. They were light and crumbly with a gorgeous lemon flavour. I hadn't thought there would be enough currants, but of course the quantity was just right.

Neil was delighted when I returned clutching a doggy bag from the afternoon tea! I ended up eating another scone and biscuit – oink oink!

I'll certainly make these delightful biscuits again. They were very easy to make and were rather scrummy to eat. All in all it was a wonderful day with memories to treasure for a lifetime.
A few of the biscuits (the best ones)!

3 comments:

  1. I'm sure I once made biscuits like these at school - about 47 years ago !!
    They look yummy and I also love anything with a lemon flavour.
    It's interesting that in many of your posts is the theme that the ingredients aren't always what you would expect but the recipes always work. That's how good Mary's recipes are, I guess.

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  2. Wow! I remember once, was staying in one of the various hotels in Shrewsbury, they had those in the menu, with compliments from the chef. They were simply superb. Yours look as good! :)

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  3. Thank you Jean. Yes alot of the time I am surprised by the ingredients. I guess that mostly comes down to the fact that I'm not an experienced baker. I'm learning all the time!

    Ahh thanks so much Jimmy :-)

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