Saturday, 7 April 2012

James Martin's Easter Biscuits

A few weeks back, the Mothership put in a request for Miss A to forgo her weekly gingerbread baking ritual in favour of making Easter biscuits. Not being a fan of anything containing dried grapes I only agreed because a) it would count towards the blog and b) I'd score brownie points on the home made gift front.   I selected a recipe by the lovely James Martin.

Like most biscuits, the recipe is really simple to follow. I must admit that I missed the instruction to only put in the yolk of a egg and not the whole thing.  But with my sous-chef being in charge of egg-related activities there's no way I'd've gotten a separated egg anyway!

I had to add another 50g flour to compensate.  The egg white is used to stick the sugar to the biscuits part way through baking. Luckily I had a spare one kicking around from another recipe that I'd been wondering what to do with.

Because of the extra liquid from the egg, I also didn't need the milk that James recommends.  I guess for thriftiness, following the original recipe is best so that you don't have to waste an extra egg yolk by using a whole egg in the mix and needing a white for the glazing part.

 As my mum doesn't like mixed peel I left that out and replaced it with extra currants. If I'd been making them for me I'd've gone with a chocolate and ginger combo like yesterday's buns or maybe sour cherry and apricot. There's always another time I guess.

I would also say that whoever wrote the recipe must've used tiny cutters.  We used a large round fluted cutter and a butterfly cutter and managed twelve biscuits.  The recipe specifies 20-25 biscuits so do consider this if you need to share them around with family and friends.

They've not been taste tested yet as we are all fit to burst after a huge tea of meatballs and spaghetti and  birthday cake (on separate plates!) but they've passed the eagle-eyed sight test of my mother, the ex professional chef.

If she likes them then I guess that's another tradition to add to my list.  Apparently her grandma used to make them for her as a child. Who knows why the tradition petered out but I'm happy to re-instigate it for Miss A.

Updated 8th April 2012 - Well the biscuits got the Mothership's seal of approval.  She said they were nicely spiced and they had a nice soft texture without being too crunchy.  I think if I made them again I'd probably zest an orange and a lemon into the mix to replace the candied peel.  And even I enjoyed mine despite not being a fan of squashed fly biscuits.


Ingredients

  • 110g/4oz caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 110g/4oz butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 free-range egg, separated
  • 225g/8oz plain flour, sieved
  • good pinch mixed spice
  • 55g/2oz currants
  • 30g/1oz candied peel
  • 3 tbsp milk


  1. Preheat the oven 160C/325F/Gas 3. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk until well combined.
  3. Fold the flour into the mixture, then stir in the mixed spice, currants and candied peel. Stir in enough milk to form a stiff dough.
  4. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and cut out the biscuits with a fluted cutter. Place onto the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the biscuits from the oven, brush with the reserved egg white, sprinkle with sugar and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until pale golden-brown.
  6. Remove the biscuits from the tray and set aside to cool on a wire rack.

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