Perfect Abernethy Biscuits are so quick and easy to make. But first let’s think about the origin. They were invented, or suggested, by Dr John Abernethy. He hailed from London in the 18th century. The biscuits have been made ever since those days. However, in the UK, there seems to be just one brand readily available these days.
The biscuits were originally created as an aid to digestion. Caraway seeds, thought to do that too, were included in the recipe. However, for my version, I ground the caraway seeds to a powder, since I prefer not to encounter a rock hard seed in my biscuits. I also think that the caraway flavour gets more evenly distributed in powder form. Some versions of these biscuits also seems to include a little orange blossom water. The amount of caraway seeds can also be varied to personal preference.
The raising agent originally used was ammonium bicarbonate, which gives a good rise and a very crisp texture. However it also gives off a very strong odour whilst baking. That odour, though, dissipates and cannot be tasted in the baked biscuits. These days it is more usual to use baking powder, which was not available in the 18th century. Baking powder is what I used too.
Another aid to crispness is the use of some lard. Some versions use all lard and others a combination of butter and lard. Other versions use all butter. It is really a matter of taste, though using some lard does give more crunch to the biscuits. I used a combination of butter and lard.
The biscuits are very easy to make. Just mix all the ingredients into a soft dough. Roll it our on a well floured surface and cut out the biscuits. After pricking them all over they are baked in the oven for as long as it takes to make them crisp. The timing will depend on how thick the dough is rolled.
My Abernethy Biscuits
I rolled out my dough to just under a 1/4 inch (5 mm) and I baked them for 14 minutes. Then I transferred them to a wire rack to cool. As they cooled they hardened to a lovely crisp biscuit.
They had a lovely ‘snap’ to them and a good crunch when eaten. The flavour of the caraway was great too. I enjoyed several with a nice cup of tea.
Another lovely crunchy biscuit recipe is Gingernuts
Perfect Abernethy BiscuitsCourse: Biscuits, CookiesCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
200g(1 1/3 cups, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour
4g(1 tsp) baking powder
50g(3 1/2 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cubed
25g(1 tbsp _ 2 tsp) cold lard, cubed
1g (1/2 tsp) ground caraway seeds (or whole caraway seeds)
75g(6 tbsp) caster sugar
1 medium egg(large in USA)
up to 45ml(3 tbsp) milk
pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F, and a couple of baking trays with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- In the bowl of a processor place the flour, salt, baking powder and ground caraways seeds.
- Add the butter and lard, and then the sugar.
- Process the mixture briefly until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg and process again to combine, scraping the bowl if needed.
- Pour in the milk, a little at a time and process until a clumpy dough forms. It will be soft. Only use as much milk as needed to achieve a soft dough.
- Tip the dough onto a well floured surface and form it into a disc.
- Flour the top of the dough and roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch(5 mm).
- Use a cookie cutter which is about 2 1/4 inches(6 cm) in diameter to cut out the biscuits.
- Transfer them to a baking tray, leaving a gap between each, and prick them all over. Re-roll the excess dough for more biscuits.
- Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes, until they have coloured nicely and are crisp.
- Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool completely. They will become crisper and very crunchy.
Another easy biscuit recipe is Gingernuts – Crunchy Ginger Biscuits.