These biscuits are great to have to hand in the cupboard for enjoying with cheese or jam, with butter, or serve them completely unadorned with drinks for toothsome and low-fat snacking – they may look plain, but they’re very moreish.
When I was writing last week’s post about Almacks, I thought to myself: I can add a link to those nice cracker biscuits – and then I couldn’t find them on the blog at all. The pictures eventually turned up in a folder on my laptop almost two years old, because it appears that I’d taken the photos but forgotten to actually write the post ! And so here we are.
These unusually-named biscuits come from the classic Victorian “Biscuits for Bakers” (1896) by Frederick T. Vine. Mr Vine has no idea where the name came from but assures us that “As the above seems rather catchy and the biscuits are something of a novelty, we will let it stand.”
Making your own savoury biscuits might seem a bit of a chore, especially when opening a packet is so much easier, but it’s always good to have a recipe to hand for short notice situations.
OK, now I think on it, I must confess I’m at a bit of a loss as to what kind of situation might warrant being deemed a biscuit emergency, so ANYHOO….
Another reason for making your own, of course, is because you have complete control over size, shape, texture and flavour of your biscuits. For crackers this is extremely simple, for it takes no more than the addition of a spoonful of dried herbs or a sprinkling of sea salt flakes to make a batch individual. The size is only limited by what biscuit cutters you possess. I’ve used a set of mini cutters to make the crackers in the picture above, each roughly the same size, but with differing shapes, which, in my opinion adds to the appeal. I’ll admit the biscuits shown in the picture are very small, about 3cm in diameter, but this means they can be popped into your mouth whole, thereby avoiding the danger lurking in larger biscuits, of shattering into pieces and dropping crumbs all down your front; I’m looking at you, Carr’s Water Biscuits and Bath Olivers.
The method for these biscuits is unusual in that, once baked, they are split open and returned to the oven so that the insides may dry and bcome toasted. Again, it is up to you how long you leave them and at what temperature, so the texture and colour can be suited to your needs.
SHOPS CLOSED ON EASTER SUNDAY! Finally thought of a biscuit memergency.
225g wholemeal brown flour
1tsp cream of tartar*
½tsp bicarbonate of soda*
milk to mix
- Heat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
- Put all of the dry ingredients into a food processor and blitz until well mixed.
- Slowly add milk to mix until the mixture comes together in a paste.
- Tip out onto a floured surface and knead smooth.
- Roll out as for pastry, to a thickness of 5mm.
- Cut your biscuits with whatever cutters you prefer. The top of a small glass can also serve.
- Lay the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and bake for 10-12 minutes if small, 15-18 minutes if larger, until the surface is cooked, but not brown. NB If making small biscuits, work in small batches to help reduce breakage when splitting – see below.
- Remove from the oven and with the point of a sharp knife, cut around the edges of the biscuits and split them in two. NB You should work quickly, because if the biscuits cool, then they will break rather than split apart.
- Lay the biscuit halves insides-upwards and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes until crisp and browned to your taste.
- Allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container.
TOP TIP If, when cooled, your biscuits aren’t crisp, just put them back into the oven until they are. I suggest a much lower heat (100°C, 80°C Fan) for longer (20-30 minutes) in order to really dry them out. Fun Fact: Victorian bakers used drying ovens or provers to get that crispness to their biscuits without having to brown them further in the heat of the main ovens.
* Or instead of these two, 2 tsp baking powder.