Wednesday, 12 March 2014
I think the simplest way to explain this recipe is to tell you that the biscuits photographed here were the ninth batch that I've made in a little over two weeks. Only the first four included any changes to the recipe - the rest, including a double batch, were because we were craving more. The last of this batch disappeared this afternoon and I'm already having to restrain myself from making a tenth.
It all started when Yotam Ottolenghi tweeted about the Garibaldi they've started selling online. Curious, I searched and found the great piece Bee Wilson wrote about their history. Garibaldi are slightly unusual in that they have been factory produced from the beginning, so there isn't a big home baking tradition - but I think they're well worth it (and quite different - though still recognisable - to the ones you buy).
I started my testing with Delia's recipe. I added an egg yolk - partly because I didn't want to have one left over - and more milk to the dough. I added lemon zest to the middle (though it's not traditional) and I doubled the amount of fruit (adding bit by bit - it was the main change between my first four tests).
It's hard to explain why they're so good. I wasn't expecting to love them. They're somehow both plain and flavourful. The fruit becomes a little caramelised around the edges and the chew it provides contrasts with the short, crumbly texture of the biscuit itself. A few fingers with a cup of tea makes for a solid, satisfying snack. They also travel well - I had a little box on my flight home last weekend and took some on a day trip to London yesterday - and don't take long to whip up when a craving hits.
So here's to the homemade squashed fly biscuit, my new favourite.
(I started with Delia's recipe)
110g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
big pinch of fine sea salt
25g unsalted butter, cold
25g caster sugar + bit extra to sprinkle
1 large egg
3 tbsp milk
100g dried fruit - I tend to use 1/2 currants + 1/2 sultanas
zest of 1/4 lemon
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F (fan). Line a big baking tray with baking parchment. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Chop the butter into cubes then add to the bowl and rub in. Stir in the caster sugar. In a bowl or mug whisk the egg yolk and milk together, then add to the bowl and gently mix in just until the dough comes together. Use your hand to bring it into a ball.
Dust the worktop with plenty of flour then place the mix in the middle and dust again. Roll out to a rectangle of roughly 7 x 11" or 20 x 30 cm, using more flour when needed. Tip the fruit onto one half and zest the 1/4 lemon on top. Spread the fruit out into an even layer so it covers half the dough. Fold the other half over the fruit. Check it hasn't stuck to the surface, dusting again if needed. Roll out to 7 x 11" or 20 x 30 cm again.
Trim the sides with a sharp knife so you have a clean rectangle (the offcuts are delicious) then cut into two lengthways. Cut each strip into 8, so you have 16 small strips. Transfer to the baking sheet. Brush the tops with some of the egg white (you'll only use a small amount) then sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar. Bake for 14-16 minutes until deep golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Three more biscuit recipes:
Whole Vanilla Bean Biscuits
Caramelised Milk Chocolate and Espresso Shortbread
Roasted Hazelnut Butter Biscuits