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Victorian Biscuits

Bake all these biscuits and you'll have teatime treats in abundance!

These recipes 444444444444444444444reliably have ensured a steady supply of biscuits for more than 100 years.444444444444stood the test of time (>>>>over 100yrs still working)

The four varieties on this page, in Annie Rossington's handwriting, feature at the very start of her 1896 cookery book. We like making them all but we don't always use the quantities of ingedients originally (see photograph) suggested!

We have typed up the original recipe (hoping that we have deciphered the handwriting correctly) and then, beneath each, we have attempted to explain how we made something similar in our small oven.

Oatmeal Biscuits

1 oz oatmeal

5 oz flour

3 oz fine sugar

3 oz melted butter

1 egg

1/4 teaspoonful c. soda

1 tablespoonful milk to wet soda in

We mixed 145g plain flour and 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda with 30g oatmeal and 85g caster sugar.

We added an egg and then melted 85g butter and mixed that in with a little milk.

The mixture was quite wet. We made a tray of flattened balls (12) and then generously dusted the worktop with flour and rolled out (to ~5mm) a further 18 biscuits (using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter).

Each tray was baked for 12 minutes, turning half way through cooking, at Gas Mark 5. The biscuits were cooled a little on the tray and then transferred to a rack before storage in an airtight container. Do try a few before you put them all away!

Almond Biscuit

1/4 lb flour

2 oz butter

2 oz c. sugar

2 oz g. almonds

part of an egg

Rub the butter in the flour then add sugar & almonds, a little ess. almonds, mix these well together as dry as possible with part of an egg, roll out 1/4 of an inch thick & cut with fan cutter. Bake in moderate oven ten to twelve minutes.

We used 120g plain flour and 60g each of the butter, sugar and ground almonds with 30g of beaten egg.

We rolled the dough and cut out 8 large (3 inch diameter) biscuits and then cut a second set of 8 discs into thirds (24 fan shapes).

The biscuits baked in twelve minutes at Gas Mark 5. The almond flavour is subtle.

Grantham Gingerbread

(Mrs Fisher)

3 lbs of flour

3 lbs of loaf sugar

1 lbs of butter

1 oz g. ginger

1/4 oz volatile salts

6 eggs

40 drops ess. lemon

Rub the butter into flour, add sugar, ginger, beat the eggs, add lemon, mix all together.

We decided to make slightly less dough! We creamed 40g of softened butter into 115g self raising flour, having mixed 1/2 tsp ginger powder and 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda into the flour. (We omitted the sal volatile.) Then we mixed in the beaten egg and 5 drops of lemon juice. We made 20 balls (each using ~20g of dough) and did not flatten them. They baked for 40 minutes at Gas Mark 2 . (Yes, a long time at a low temperature!) Each biscuit had spread to around 6cm diameter and looked cracked and was hollow.

Brown Gingerbread Biscuits

(Mrs Fisher)

2 lbs flour

1 lb brown sugar

1 lb treacle

1/2 lb butter

1 large teaspoonful c. soda

1 egg

2 or 3 teaspooon g. ginger

Make one day. Bake the next in a moderate oven.

Again, we made less dough!

We used 200g self raising flour,

100g soft dark brown sugar,

100g golden syrup (although we have sometimes used 80g golden syrup and 20g black treacle),

50g butter,

~20g egg,

1/2 a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda,

1 teaspoonful of ginger powder.

We melted the butter with the golden syrup. We mixed the powders and the sugar into the flour and then mixed these dry ingredients into the butter and syrup mixture along with the egg, forming a soft dough which was rested for 24 hours. We rolled the dough and used a variety of old cutters for some interesting shapes. We baked the gingerbread at Gas Mark 5 for 8 minutes and then turned the tray and baked them for a further 4 minutes until they were just turning slightly brown. After 2 minutes cooling on the tray, they were transferred to a rack to cool completely.

We do use these recipes (and slight variations) from time to time but enjoyed making the "full set" - bringing the whole page to life - on this occasion. We had a tin full of biscuits after this baking session but can't really say how many hours, days, weeks, months or years they may last because they're unlikely to remain in their airtight tin for many more minutes... We must make more! Perhaps it would have been wise to stick to the original quantities after all?

We hope that these recipes will remain both historically interesting and practically useful for hundreds more years!