Now this recipe is not actually a cake at all, it is a biscuit, or cookie for American readers of the blog.
The reason for making these shortbread type biscuits is quite simple. I was watching TV and a guy came on, talking about historic recipes. Ivan Day was the guy’s name. He appears in many British programmes talking of the subject of food in times gone by. Anyway, he demonstrated the recipe for Shrewsbury Cakes, and told some of the history behind them. The cakes date back to the 17th Century. They were used, according to Ivan, as an accompaniment to a specific type of alcoholic punch. The pattern was there to allow the biscuits to be broken into pieces to dip in the drink.
I then did some searching on the internet and found an interesting site, with a nice explanation, and a recipe. The site is A Taste Of The Past, you can click that link to see the site, and read about the recipe.
This is a very simple recipe. The biscuit dough is made and then shaped for baking. They are large biscuits. Very large, in fact, at 5 inches in diameter. The biscuits are imprinted with a pattern. But the most interesting thing is that they are flavoured with rose water. However, if you don’t like that idea you can use some other flavouring, almond extract, orange extract, lemon extract etc.
When I made these a few years ago I used diluted orange extract with worked very well. But I have to admit that with rose water they taste great.
The recipe will make 16 5 inch biscuits and I baked 8 today, saving the remainder for tomorrow. I baked the biscuits for 15 minutes, until they had started to colour around the edges.
Then I left them to cool on the baking trays for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
The biscuits baked perfectly. They had a lovely snap when broken along the lines of the pattern.
The taste was superb, the aromatic rose water flavour and just so buttery too.
These are a biscuit I will happily make time and again.
Another old British biscuit recipe is Grantham Gingerbreads
Shrewsbury Cakes (Shropshire Cakes)Course: Biscuits, CookiesCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
450g(3 cups, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour
227g(1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
225g(2 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar
1 medium egg(large in USA)
5ml(1 tsp) rose water (or flavouring of choice)
1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
- Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper
- Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine.
- Add the butter and rub it in between your fingers, until it all resembles fine breadcrumbs or sand(you can do it all in a processor)
- Mix the rose water into the egg and then add it into the flour mixture.
- Stir around to create a clumpy dough.
- Use your hands to squeeze everything into a sturdy dough.
- Divide the dough into 16 equal portions(about 59 grams).
- Flatten each piece of dough into a disc about 5 inches in diameter and place on the parchment paper.
- Use the tines of a comb(clean of course) to make 5 lines equally spaced across the dough.
- Make another 5 lines, diagonal to the first set, creating diamond shapes on the dough.
- Use a skewer to poke a hole in the middle of each diamond.
- Bake the biscuits in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges begin to colour. Longer is better to have. crisp biscuit.
- Remove the biscuits from the oven and leave on the trays for two minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.