Many, many moons ago I saw a recipe by Heston Blumenthal as part of his “In Search of Perfection” series for making caraway biscuits.
My firm intention to make these biscuits was triggered by my fondness for caraway. I think it’s an underused spice, which is a shame, as I think it really has a lovely aromatic flavour. I love it in cheese and savoury biscuits, and it is fantastic in bread and with beetroot. So this struck me as an interesting recipe, that I mentally filed on my “to try” list.
However, I never quite got round to making these biscuits. The reason was that all this perfection seemed to involve too much work…multiple stages of chilling the dough, rolling it out to wafer-thinness, freezing it, then baking a sheet of the mixture and then cutting out the biscuits. So as far as I could see, there would be lots of scraps left over, which didn’t strike me as really all that perfect. Clearly, I’m too lazy for perfection.
So what have I done? Well, when in doubt, make up your own recipe, or make some tweaks to an old favourite. I’ve opted for the latter. I made some Dutch almond wreaths at Christmas, and I liked the way the dough worked – it held its shape and the biscuits were buttery yet crisp. So I have taken that recipe, and adapted it by adding a little ground almonds (a nod to Heston’s recipe) and a decent amount of caraway seeds.
The result is, frankly, amazing. Think of these as quite an adult biscuit – it’s a sophisticated taste, that goes well with a cup of Earl Grey or some green tea. Might not go down so well with an infant, but that’s their loss. I love them.
To make caraway biscuits (makes 40):
• 100g light brown sugar, sieved
• 160g plain flour
• 50g ground almonds
• 150g butter, finely chopped
• 1 egg white, lightly whisked
• 1/4 teaspoon salt, finely ground
• 10g (2 heaped teaspoons) caraway seeds
To finish the cookies (optional):
• caster sugar
Start by dry toasting the caraway seeds in a saucepan over a medium heat – keep them moving until they smell fragrant (1-2 minutes). Pour onto a place and leave until cold.
Put all the dough ingredients in a bowl. Use your hands to quickly knead to a smooth dough – it will be quite sticky. Place the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes (this makes the dough much easier to work with). In the meantime, preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface until around 1/3 cm thick. Use a round cutter (5 cm / 2 inch diameter) to make the biscuits and transfer to the baking sheet.
If you want, brush the biscuits with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar (optional).
Bake the cookies for around 20 minutes until lightly golden, turning half-way to make sure they colour evenly – watch carefully as there is not much between “cooked” and “burned”.