Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#270 Mereworth Biscuits

The move back to Houston after almost a month back in England has left me very homesick indeed and definitely in need of some therapy of some kind, especially when Sunday came around. Personally, I find nothing more therapeutic that having a good baking session. Unfortunately, I could not arsed to leave my flat and buy ingredients.  The Teatime chapter of the book has received the most attention out of all the chapters, and I assumed that all the remaining recipes required either ingredients or equipment that I have not yet acquired.  Not so, these little savory biscuits; they are made up of just plain flour, butter, milk and a pinch of salt.
I’d not heard of these before, but they are supposed to be served with butter and cream cheese and that sort of thing. I don’t like to quote big chunks of Jane Grigson’s writings on the blog, but I think this post requires it – her little introduction to this recipe is so evocative that I can’t resist. Enjoy:
We once looked down on the perfect Greek cross of Mereworth Castle through young beech leaves, not long after we had visited the Villa Capra at Vicenza, which stands right up on a dusty hill surrounded by long grass. And here in the spring countryside of Kent was this perfect replica, with the same collected elegance, far below the valley. I should like to see the kitchens of Mereworth, where these biscuits were made in the nineteenth century.”
God, she is good. It’s a shame she is no longer with us. She goes on to tells us that the recipe comes from a book called Choice Recipes by a certain Lady Sarah Lindsay.

Mereworth Castle

This recipe make quite a large number of biscuits, I imagine that the dough will freeze perfectly well like most biscuit doughs do. It’s also a very easy dough to make, so if you’ve never baked before, this could be a good initiation!
Begin by rubbing one ounce of butter into eight ounces of plain flour along with a pinch of salt. Make a well and add some hot milk, bring the dough together adding more hot milk until it becomes firm but soft. Give it a knead. There’s quite a lot of lee-way here, unlike pastry, the hot milk and kneading is supposed to make the dough stretchy and it can take quite a bit of liquid. If it is a little too wet, sprinkle with some more flour. The dough can now be rolled out extremely thinly – make it as thin as possible, so thin you can see the work surface beneath. Cut out two inch circles with a plain biscuit cutter and bake for no more than five minutes at 220°C (450°F) until slightly golden. Some will produce giant bubbles others will not, but they will look beautifully home-made! Keep somewhere airtight as they do go soft very easily.
#270 Mereworth Biscuits. These were quite nice and went well with whatever bit and bobs I found in the fridge to eat with them. I do like cheese and biscuits but rarely ever think to buy them, apart from at Christmastime. These were good, but there are more English savory bikkies that I personally think are better, so I’m going to give them a safe 5/10.

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