The 2-4-6 biscuit formula
( SERVES 36 )
A very easy and adaptable recipe often called refrigerator biscuits because the dough is firmed up in the fridge before slicing and baking, and it can also be frozen, well wrapped in paper and aluminium foil. You can either thaw the whole roll of dough, or slice off a few frozen discs and cook them. Like many older recipes, it can be made with a range of flavours to add variety to the tins. One of my favourites, for rosemary biscuits, came from Margaret Paine, who is my sister Fiona's mother-in-law.
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choose one of the following flavourings:
|1½ tbsp||Fresh rosemary, to your taste|
|2 tsp||Aniseed, slightly crushed|
|2 tbsp||Toasted almonds, chopped|
|2 tbsp||Toasted walnuts|
|2 tbsp||Glace ginger, add 1tsp of ground ginger and 1 tsp of brown sugar|
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and line a baking tray with baking paper, or grease it lightly.
- Combine the first three ingredients to form a dough, then knead in the flavouring of your choice.
- Make the dough into a long roll by pressing it together firmly. Wrap it in waxed paper and chill for at least 20 minutes, overnight, or for up to 10 days.
- A tip for those who like things complicated: you can make perfectly circular biscuits by taking a cardboard cylinder - the centre of a roll of baking paper works well - slitting it open and laying the plastic-wrapped roll of dough inside it. Hold the cardboard roll closed with a couple of rubber bands and put the parcel in the fridge.
- When you are ready to bake and the oven is at the right temperature, unwrap the dough and slice it into discs about 5mm thick with a thin-bladed table knife.
- Set them out on the baking trays, leaving just a small space between the pieces.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.
- Be prepared. Pay attention to the recipe: read it through before you start and check that you have the right tin and all the ingredients.
- Be realistic. Start with simple expectations and an equally simple recipe. It doesn't have to be long and it doesn't have to be expensive to be a big hit.
- Ignore all the rules about not writing in books. Write down what happened when you tried a recipe. You'll want to remember - and it's a good history.
- Don't give up on a recipe. If it doesn't work the first time, have another go.
- Enjoy yourself. Baking is not a necessity, it's about having fun.