Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shrewsbury biscuits

I live in a town called Shrewsbury. A few years ago I stumbled upon a recipe for "Shrewsbury biscuits" and thought I'd definitely have to give them a try one day. Today was my Garden Club's monthly meeting and the theme was Shrewsbury, England since our mayor came to give us a presentation about his recent visit to our sister town on the old continent. I knew the time had come for me to bake those cookies. :) They were simple to make but seemed to be a hit with everyone at the meeting. My daughter, 8, who helped me bake them was so happy and proud! :)

Shrewsbury biscuits- or cakes- are an English dessert named after Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire.  They were first mentioned in a recipe book dated 1658, "The Compleat Cook of 1658". They are also mentioned by the English playwright William Congreve in "The Way of the World" in 1700 as a silile (Witwoud - "Why, brother Wilfull of Salop, you may be as short as a Shrewsbury cake, if you please. But I tell you 'tis not modish to know relations in town"). The recipe was taken to the White House, when First Lady Louisa Catherine Adams made them for her husband, President John Quincy Adams. Shrewsbury biscuits are also among the most popular snacks in India. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrewsbury_cake)

Shrewsbury biscuits are hard, crisp, sweet biscuit flavored with some combination of lemon, rose-water, caraway seeds and raisins, the exact combination depending on who you ask. :) (http://www.wetnelly.com/page010.html)

The recipe I used came from The Good Housekeeping New Step-By-Step Cookbook (British Edition)

Shrewsbury biscuits

½ cup butter, room temperature
5 ounces sugar
2 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange (I used lemon and they were delicious)
8 ounces all-purpose flour
2 ounces currants (optional in the original recipe, but I put them in)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the egg yolks and the lemon zest. Slowly add the flour and the currants. Stir until the dough comes together.

Roll half of the dough on a lightly floured surface until ¼ inch thick. Cut the dough into rounds and place on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Reroll the dough scraps and cut as many cookies as possible. Do not reroll the dough too many times.

Bake the cookie for about 15 minutes until very lightly browned on the edges. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Here are my Shrewsbury biscuits at the Shrewsbury Garden Club meeting tonight:

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