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Baking: Westcountry Easter Biscuits

westcountry easter biscuits

I don’t have the greatest memory in the world, but I seem to have a photographic memory when it comes to food  I still remember the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten, Florence 2004, the most incredible Macaroni Cheese with Lobster & Truffle, Portland Maine, 2010 and the Easter Biscuits from my local farm shop which I consumed by the packet load as a child.

I grew up in the West Country in a small village in the Mendip Hills which is a stones throw from that popular yoghurt dairy, Yeo Valley. What I didn’t realise until I moved away, is that the Easter Biscuits I had as a child were a local speciality which you don’t find outside of the Bristol/Somerset area. These Easter Biscuits are essentially Shrewsbury biscuits with an extra ingredient added to them….. Cassia Oil.

Yes Cassia Oil, I hadn’t really heard of it either! Apparently it comes from the bark of a Chinese Cinnamon tree, which is native to China, how it ended up in the Westcountry is anyone guess! Its really difficult to describe  the taste of Cassia Oil its a bit like cinnamon but spicier and with the most incredible, warming cosy smell. Baking these biscuits makes the house smell nicer than any yankee candle!

This year after going almost a decade without proper Westcountry Easter Biscuits I tracked down some Cassia Oil  and had a go at recreating these Easter biscuits, they are really quick to make and taste amazing! If you don’t have any Cassia Oil you can substitute it for Mixed Spice.

Ingredients

285g Plain Flour
200g Butter
140g Golden Caster Sugar
70g Currents
2 Egg Yolks
8 drops of Cassia Oil or 1-2 tsp of mixed spice to taste

Recipe

  1. Heat oven to 160C
  2. Mix the butter, sugar and flour until well beaten.
  3. Mix in the egg yolks and add the Cassia Oil or Mixed Spice.
  4. Add in the currents and mix by hand. If the dough is dry and crumbly add a splash of milk to bring it together.
  5. Roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thick and cut out your easter biscuits
  6. Place biscuits on baking parchment covered baking trays and cook for 10-15 minutes until the edges start to go golden. When you take the biscuits out the oven they should still be fairly yellow in colour. Sprinkle with sugar and leave to cool and harden on the baking tray for 10 minutes then move to a rack for cooling.
  7. Eat and enjoy!

I hope you like the recipe and if you do have a go at baking them be sure to let me know what you think!

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Kate May

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