To celebrate #nationalbiscuitday (Saturday 29th June, 2021, I tried to make an easy recipe from one of the recipe books in the archive of the Wright family of Eyam Hall in Derbyshire, kindly sent to me by my mother. It produces a lovely crisp biscuit to enjoy with a cup of tea – the lady who wrote down this recipe noted they were ‘exceedingly good’. The original recipe uses large quantities (this is a recipe designed for a household on the Chatsworth House scale, after all), so it’s been quartered, which will make around 38 biscuits depending on what size you cut out.
8oz (225g) plain flour (you can use wholemeal or a mix of both)
4 oz (110g) butter
4 oz (110g) sugar
1/2 tbsp white wine or water
4 oz (110g) currants or 1/2 oz (12g) caraway seeds
Use cold butter straight from the fridge, cut it into small cubes and rub it into the flour until it resembles fine crumbs – or pulse the mixture in a food processor, which will be much quicker than doing this by hand.
Stir in the sugar and either currants or caraway seeds. Beat the egg and mix it in, then add the wine or water and use your hands to pull the mixture together to form a ball of pastry-like dough. You need very little liquid as the warmth of your hands will soften the butter and you’ll find that it comes together nicely.
There’s no need to knead – as soon as you’ve got it into a smooth ball, it’s ready. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface, getting it as thin as you dare. Use a biscuit cutter to cut rounds (or any fancy shape you like!), and then transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes near the top of the oven at 180 degrees. Don’t let them get too brown – they should be a pale golden colour. Cool on a wire rack.
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