English baking is (for many of us) our source, what we grew up with on our kitchen table. For all the mixed banter about English cuisine and meat 3 veg, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love traditional English biscuits; ginger nuts, jam drops, the wheaty digestive, cornish fairings or this little Shrewsbury. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (how’s that for a Pommy name) of the UK Guardian wrote a funny piece on the British biscuit last year.
The Shrewsbury biscuit dates back to the 1700‘s. Often described as one of England’s finest medieval market towns, lovely Shrewsbury is in Shropshire UK, close to the Welsh border. I have adapted this recipe from Loretta Sartori’s - a talented Melbourne based Pastry chef. She shares her recipe in Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Book - 760 pages of amazing Easter reading for passionate cooks and gardeners just like us. You can substitute the currants for the carraway seed version if you like. Traditionally lemon was used but I think orange is just perfect with the currants and cinnamon.
Ingredients - 370 grams plain flour ❤ ¾ teaspoon baking powder ❤ 100 grams currants (or 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds) ❤ finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange (or lemon if you prefer) ❤ ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon ❤ 200 grams unsalted butter, softened ❤ 100 grams caster sugar ❤ 50 grams soft brown sugar ❤ 1 free range egg, lightly beaten with a fork ❤ 1 free range egg white, whisked lightly with a fork ❤ white sugar, for rolling dough in (Makes approx 40 small biscuits)
Method + Tips - Measure out currants and put them into a small bowl covered with boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes before draining into a colander. Return them to the bowl and pour over orange juice and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer). Even overnight is ok if you’ve got time. When ready to bake biscuits, drain the currants and discard orange juice.
Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon together and set aside.
Using a mixer with a paddle or dough attachment, beat together butter, sugars and orange zest until light and pale. Best to scrape down the bowl at least once with a spatula to ensure all mixture becomes light. With the motor running on low speed, add whole egg and mix to combine.
Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed only until just combined. Add drained currants and mix briefly without tearing the fruit.
Cover two baking trays with a sheet of baking paper. Divide your dough equally between the two trays. Roll each into a long log, smoothing with your hands before twisting paper at each end until firm. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until quite firm (even overnight is fine too).
Preheat oven to moderate 170°C (340°F).
Whisk egg white with a fork and scatter plenty of sugar onto the baking paper. Unroll biscuit dough logs and brush them all over with egg white using a pastry brush. Roll logs in sugar to coat. Using a serrated knife, slice dough logs into even 7mm-thick slices. Place on baking paper-lined trays and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer biscuits to metal cooling rack. Once cold, store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Happy Easter - I’ve really enjoyed posting each day this week, instead of my usual every 2-3 days. My oven needs a good clean though. Self-cleaning...ha!
I’ll be back next week with a sparkly oven and outlook as relaxed and fresh as my new MFK Banner and Jam labels. Hope you like them. Will share my favourite no-bake slice recipe I've re-named "Too Many Easter Eggs leftover Slice” plus lots more. Have a great weekend. Enjoy your baking in the kitchen or sunshine and good food with family and friends. Susie x