My granny had an orange Tupperware for biscuits which usually contained Nice biscuits (Nice you note, rather than nice). I wasn’t very keen on the container nor on the contents but always forced one down in the way that children seem unable to turn down a biscuit. Now that I think about it, biscuits in the 70’s were not what they are today.
Bourbons, pink wafers, custard creams, Rich Tea, digestives, gingersnaps. Then there were Garibaldi, exotically named and invitingly glazed but always mouth puckeringly dry. Viscounts with their pat of mint cream, a real treat as foil wrapped almost counted as confectionery. Oh and those hefty rectangular shortbread bricks which invariably came in a tartan packet. We weren’t exactly spoilt for choice back then.
Now however, biscuits practically take up an entire aisle in the supermarket. All the above remain, time will not wither us etc. but there are now hundreds of newcomers from the white chocolate dipped cranberry beauty to the extraordinary pencil thin Mikado. There are Belgian chocolate dipped wafers, American Oreo’s and various French sables and galettes. For the purposes of research you understand I tasted a few old favourites, Breakaway – the chocolate didn’t seem as thick and am I imagining it or are they smaller than they were? Or perhaps I am just bigger. Blue Riband which I remember as a proper after school treat were dry and disappointing. Kit Kat’s happily remain exactly the same.
So I parade up and down the shelves looking at what is there and what is new but then a voice in my head pipes up “we will make biscuits at home – home made are much nicer…” When I was a child these words would make my heart sink, bought things seemed so much more exciting and yet, I can hardly believe it is me saying them now. True though and here is a recipe which I hope will prove the point.
100g soft butter
30g icing sugar (plus a little extra to dust)
90g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Cream the butter and sugar together and then add the flours and vanilla until combined. Put the mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes to make it a little easier to handle. Take a teaspoonful and roll into a ball, put on the baking sheet and flatten gently with a fork (dip the fork in flour so it doesn’t stick). Repeat with the rest of the dough and then bake for 20 minutes (check after 15) until just golden on top and cooked on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar if you want. Makes about 24.
These are perfect as they are but you can see from the photograph that I sandwiched a few with some chocolate icing I had left over. My children loved the doubles with the extra treaty filling – I prefer them unadorned with a cup of tea.