Simple biscuits

I haven’t made biscuits for years, but today I wanted to make some simple, buttery sultana biscuits, and to my surprise a trawl through the most likely suspects on my bookshelf (Delia, Jane Grigson, Katie Stewart, Georgina Horley) came up blank. I ended up googling, and even that took a while. But eventually I hit lucky, and less than half an hour later I was able to sample the result. Very nice, albeit a bit crumbly; I might add a spot of milk next time, as the dough was very short. I added sultanas, but see suggestions at the end of the recipe for alternative flavourings. This recipe makes about a dozen.

Credit: from tafn.org.uk, but the site was down when I visited so I used Google’s cache.


110 g (4 ounces) butter at room temperature.
50 g (2 ounces) caster sugar
150 g (5 ounces) of plain flour
50 g (2 ounces) sultanas (optional, see below)
A little extra butter or margarine to grease the tins.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C, 350 F, gas mark 4, 160 fan oven.

Grease a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones).

Cream the softened butter and caster sugar, with a wooden spoon, in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add your chosen flavouring. Stir in the flour and then bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough (adding a little milk if it doesn’t hold together).

Divide the dough into small balls, each about the size of a walnut. Flatten out into circles.

Place the circles, well spaced apart, on the greased baking sheet(s) and flatten a little more with a fork.

Bake near the top of the oven for between 15 and 20 minutes, until pale gold. The biscuits will still feel soft when they first come out of the oven.

Cool on the trays for 5 minutes, then use a slice to transfer the biscuits to a cooling rack. Leave to go completely cold, by which time they should be nice and crunchy.

They will keep well for a few days if stored in an airtight tin.

Alternative flavourings:

A few drops of almond or vanilla essence
1 heaped teaspoon of instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
1 heaped tablespoon of honey or golden syrup, added with either a greased or hot spoon
50 g (2 ounces) of chopped glace cherries
50 g (2 ounces) finely chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
grated rind of half a small orange or lemon
2 level tablespoons of chocolate chips
2 level tablespoons of either currants or sultanas.

Alternatively, you could replace 15 g, or 1 tablespoon, of the flour with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder.

You might also add 1 tsp of either ground ginger, mixed spice, or ground cinnamon to the flour, instead of or in addition to the above flavourings.

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