To reward you all for being such lovely loyal readers I have decided to share my favourite recipe for homemade biscuits. Rich with butter, but as light and crumbly as air you cannot say no to a second (or a third) of these stunning cookies. They impress everyone who tries them, but are so incredibly easy to make that you’ll never use another biscuit recipe again!
I would love to take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. It comes froms the rather underrated Bake by Rachel Allen. I was given this lovely cookbook a few years ago for Christmas and it has become a real go-to for me when I consider turning the oven on for anything. The recipes are easy to follow, rarely require unusual or hard to obtain ingredients and have so far all worked perfectly for me, none more so than the Basic Cookie Recipe on Page 14.
This simple straightfoward recipe contains just 3 main ingredients in the shape of butter, flour and sugar, but can be customised a million ways to suit your tastes so you never tire of it. In fact, it has become such a staple for me I haven’t managed to try any other cookie or biscuit recipes from this book yet!
For this month’s Invisible Food Walk buffet I had intended to make Nigel Slater’s Iced Marmalade Cake to use up a spare jar of Paddington’s favourite, but at the last minute I realised I didn’t have enough self-raising flour left, so with very little time to spare, I decided to whip up some cookies. To make them more foraging appropriate, I decided to steal an idea from a recent tea party and flavour them with rosemary.
I have never used rosemary in baking before, but having made the lemon and ginger versions of these cookies many a time, I have learned that about a tablespoon of flavouring or spice gives the best results rather than the slightly timid suggestion of 1 teaspoon in the original recipe. I picked a nice big sprig of rosemary from the garden and chopped it as finely as I could be bothered at 8.30 in the morning…
I then followed the recipe as usual, creaming the butter and sugar together and then adding the flour and rosemary. I have made these cookies by hand and as long as your butter is nice and soft, it takes very little time, but a bit of elbow grease for this stage. I have recently invested in Sainsbury’s Basic Hand Mixer and this little miracle takes the effort out of baking for a mere £4.99. All in all with the mixer, I had a lovely buttery dough flecked with pungent oily green rosemary in less than 5 minutes. If you are making these by hand, it’s a great recipe to do with the kids.
The cookie dough is easier to handle if you pop it in the fridge for half an hour, but if you are desperate for biscuits as soon as possible, you can skip this. Roll small balls of the dough and flatten them out slightly, but don’t put them too close together on the baking tray as they do spread out a fair bit when cooking. Then pop them in the oven for around 15 minutes until they look slightly golden round the edges. Leave them on the tray for a minute or two to firm up when you take them out, put the kettle on and voila, you have homemade biscuits in around 30 minutes from start to finish.
If you happen to have dough leftover (not as unlikely as it seems! I often make two batches at once) it will keep, well wrapped, in the fridge for about a week or it can be frozen too. If you roll it into a log shape before chilling or freezing, you can simply cut discs of dough and cook them straight from the freezer to make home baking even easier. Considering it would take me 15 minutes to go out and buy a packet of (vastly inferior) biscuits, I usually keep some of this super easy to make dough in the fridge or freezer if I’m expecting visitors…and since I started offering warm freshly baked cookies as routine, I have a lot more visitors!
By the way, I am going on anecdotal evidence that the rosemary worked well. I went to try one at the Invisible Food Walk and they’d all gone, so I’m guessing it works well! I think I might have to try lavender next…