Repost: Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits

Some Gourmay readers get their nose out of joint when I don’t always publish new recipes. Sadly, their nose will continue to remain out of joint as I have decided to republish this delightful recipe for Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits. As most Gourmay readers are aware, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I can assure you this is certainly an Easter treat that will be enjoyed by young and old.

A recent Easter favorite is Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits that I first discovered in the New York Times some two years ago, but the original recipe comes from Florence White’s 1932 cookbook Good Things in England A Practical Cookery Book for Everyday Use.  This cookbook was reprinted in 2003 and there is an excellent Blog on Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits or “Cakes” with the recipe in grams for those metrically-inclined.  I will stick to Tbs and tsp to preserve our somewhat outdated traditions in cooking.

Sedgemoor Easter Cakes

West England is known for its great biscuits and potted cream and dairy products and this sensational recipe brings together all of those great English traditions. This recipe includes a confectioner’s sugar glaze to set off the great flavors of this currant biscuit.

Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits

Ingredients
3/4 cup dried currants
2 Tbs brandy
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz (1 stick) of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 large egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
4 tsp milk

Preparation

Place currants in a small bowl, add brandy and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment.

Place flours and salt in mixer.  Mix briefly on low speed to blend.  Dice butter, add to mixer bowl and mix on low speed until blended with flour to make a crumbly mixture.  Whisk sugar and spices together and add to mixer.  Mix on low.  Add egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, currants and brandy, and mix on low just until clumps of dough start to form.  Turn dough out on work surface.  Knead briefly to smooth.

Roll out about 3/8-inch thick.  Us a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, preferably fluted to cut rounds.  Reroll scraps.  Place rounds on baking sheet.  Bake about 25 minutes until lightly browned.  Transfer cookies to a rack.

Mix confectioners’ sugar with milk and remaining vanilla, and brush on warm cookies.  When glaze has set, brush on a second coat.  Allow to cool completely.  If desired, wrap in packages of three and tie with pastel ribbon (Holy Trinity).

This recipe yields about 18 cookies and I always make a double batch.  You will want to also after you taste these great England cakes.

Sheila May
Therese Saint Clair

Royal Christmas Cake News Alert

NEWS ALERT

For those with a Royal palate, I am pleased to report that the marzipan (flown in by special courier from the “Old Country” where such ludicrous traditions are still revered) has been applied to the Royal Christmas Cake.  We now allow nature to take its course and let it harden for four days before the “royal” icing is applied.  (See Waitrose video above).

Rule Britannia!

 

Orange Cake, Ancona Style

Marcella Hazan Orange CakeIn a delightful tribute to Marcella Hazan in the New York Times magazine, Mark Bittman recalls fondly how Marcella taught him “to interpret Child’s (Julia) work in a way that felt contemporary.”    He rightfully concludes “. . . we can drink to the woman who was largely responsible – however unintentionally – for bringing real Italian food to the United States.”

I am pleased to reproduce below one of Marcella’s few dessert recipes that was printed in Bittman’s New York Times article:

Orange Cake, Ancona-Style

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the pan
  • 3 eggs
  • Grated peel of 3 oranges
  • 4 Tbs ( 1/2 a stick) butter, softened to room temperature, plus butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup plus 3 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs of ouzo (Pernod is OK as substitute)
  • 1 Tbs whole milk
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice with 3 Tbs sugar dissolved in it.

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 350º
  2. Put the flour, eggs, orange peel, 4 Tbs softened butter, sugar and ouzo in a food processor and run until all the ingredients are evenly amalgamated.
  3. Add the milk and baking powder, and process again to incorporate into the mixture
  4. Thickly smear a tube pan with butter, and dust with flour.  Put the cake mixture in the pan (It won’t fill it up all the way), and place the pan in the preheated oven.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top of the cake becomes a rich gold color.
  5. When the cake is done, place the bottom of the pan over a bumbler or tall mug, using pot holders and push down to raise the loose bottom.  Take the tube with cake out of hoop, work the cake loose from the bottom with a knife and lift it away from the tube.  Place it on a plate with a slight raised rim.
  6. While the cake is still warm, poke many holes in it using a chopstick or any similar narrow tool.  Into each of the holes, slowly pour some of the orange juice.  At first the hole fills to the brim with juice, bus this will subsequently – in about an hour – be absorbed by the cake
  7. Serve an room temperature, with more orange juice drizzle over each slice.

Yep.  It is as good as it sounds.