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So apparently in the last (and it may well be THE last, or so I pray) edition of the Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry announced that a biscuit must be crunchy.
Excuse me: what about cookies? macarons?? lady fingers??? Biscuits are not crunchy by definition, at least not in the wide meaning, and apart from cantuccini they are not normally baked twice. Jaffa cakes? Digestives? Gingerbreads? And that’s even before we go over to America and inspect what they call ‘a biscuit’ there. Crunchy it isn’t. I’m all for a good biscuit (although I don’t dunk), crunchy or not, but let’s not make sweeping generalisations. It’s as if someone said that all steaks must be made with fillet beef.
Crunchy is good when it melts in your mouth and tastes of butter and sugar - which is basically what the crunchy biscuit is made of. When I was a kid I used to eat uncooked crumble (uncooked dough is one of the finest things in life) and a good crunchy biscuit reminds me fondly of that raw flour/sugar/butter combo.
I set out to make a replica of Fox’s crunch creams - one of the best shop-bought biscuits, without question - only sans creams as that’s where shop-bought would beat my buttercream on eat-by date (with E-numbers). I made the first batch with a bit of egg as the dough wouldn’t come together but it was wrong - not enough crunch, not enough melt. The second time round I only added a bit of lemon juice to help the dough gel - and the result was spot on. Crunch. Melt. Mary Berry happy. And the perfect side to a lemon posset.
crunchy biscuitsServings: 3 dozen biscuitsTime: half an hour plus chilling pastry
- 100g butter, slightly softened
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp. light corn syrup (use golden syrup or honey as an alternative; each will alter the taste slightly)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
1. Cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy, add the vanilla extract. Stir the flour with the baking powder into the mix, add the corn syrup and mix everything into soft dough, adding the lemon juice to help the dough come together.
2. Roll it up into a sausage about 4-4cm in diameter, wrap it in cling film and chill for at least an hour until firm.
3. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment.
4. When the dough has chilled, slice it with a sharp knife into 3mm thick discs, place them on the baking sheets well-spaced out and bake for 8 minutes until light golden around the edges. Cool on the wire rack.