As I was looking around the internet for some old fashioned bicsuit/cookie recipes I came across Tosset Cakes, which are a traditional biscuit made in Lancashire. They are very similar to Goosnargh biscuits, also from Lancashire. But the ratio of butter to flour in Tosset cakes is higher than in Goosnargh, so the resulting biscuits are more crumbly, and they just melt in the mouth.. Very delicate, they are also flavoured with slightly crushed caraway and coriander seeds.
Everywhere I looked the recipe was exactly the same, in the same proportions, so it is difficult to attribute a particular source for the recipe. Though I did read that they featured on a Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty TV program. I don’t watch the show so I cant say how theirs turned out.
The recipe also claims to make 25 biscuits, but that is wrong. If making biscuits of .5 cm thickness, using the volume of ingredients suggested, the number is likely to be at least 40. This does mean extra rolling of the off-cuts. That in turn can create some issues, as the dough is not the sort that wants to be handled too much. Overworking the dough will cause it to spread a lot during baking. In fact having read some reviews of various people’s attempts some have turned out perfectly and others report that the dough spread all over the place.
So for mine I decided not only to chill the dough for an hour before rolling out, as suggested in the recipe, but also to chill again before baking. Also I varied the method slightly, adding the crushed seeds into the flour and sugar before rubbing in the butter. The original instruction had the butter rubbed in and then the seeds added and mixed in. I thought this could easily lead to overworkng teh dough, so I opted for my method. I also did a test using 20% volumes as I didn’t want to waste so much if they were not going to be any good. The test worked well with a lovely crisp, crumbly and flavoursome biscuit. So then it was on to making a full batch. They turned out great too, so I am very pleased indeed to have discovered a lovely new(to me) treat.
- 500g plain flour(plus extra for dusting)
- 500g softened unsalted butter, cubed
- 150g caster sugar(plus extra for sprinkling on the top of the biscuits before baking)
- 1 heaped tsp of caraway seeds(about 3.5g)
- 1 heaped tsp of coriander seeds(about 3.5g)
- Icing sugar to sift over the baked biscuits
- Using a pestle and mortar(or any other way), gently crush the caraway and coriander seeds a little to break them down, without turning to dust.
- In a large bowl place the flour, sugar and crushed seeds and mix to get them all evenly combined.
- Add the butter and gently toss in the mixture to coat.
- Using your fingers rub the butter into the flour mixture until there are no large lumps.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture just enough that it starts clumping together.
- Pull the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Dust the work surface with flour and roll out he chilled dough to a thickness of .5cm(about 1/4).
- Using a 6cm cookie cutter cut out rounds and place on a lightly floured baking tray.
- Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F.
- Sprinkle caster sugar over the cut out biscuits.
- Bake the biscuits in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Watch them carefully as you don’t want them to colour, they should be pale.
- Allow to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
- If desired sift some icing sugar over the top before serving.
I think another method, to avoid overworking the dough would be, instead of forming a ball and chilling, to form a couple of sausage shapes of the dough, 6cm in diameter and chilling that. Then they should be firm enough to cut into .5cm slices rather than rolling out.