Having ventured into northern climes once I decided to invest in a baking book which reached even closer to the North Pole. I have to say it is absolutely delightful – useful non-fussy recipes and inspirational photography. ( I’m a bit wary of the latter as sometimes the photography is misleading – tricks used by photographers go way beyond cooking skills.)
These biscuits are delightful – so light and easy to make. Their only difficulty is that the pasty is so light and delicate it is difficult to handle in hot weather – or for that matter, a hot kitchen! The combination of vanilla and almonds is wonderful. The original recipe suggested sprinkling demerara sugar on the surface of the biscuits – however I used Swedish sugar crystals which I love as they just look so pretty after baking – like sprinkles of snow.
Vanilla and Almond Biscuits
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
large pinch salt
125g caster sugar
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1tsp vanilla extract
1 medium egg-white
finely chopped almonds (skin on)
demerara or sugar crystals to sprinkle
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºCfan/Gas mark 6. Line three baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
- Using a mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and butter and blitz until the mixture resembles bread-crumbs.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and keeping mixing until the dough blends. If it is a little dry, you could add a teaspoonful of milk – but I found it was a very soft dough without any addition.
- Using clingfilm – take the dough and shape it into a long sausage approx 3 cm in diameter. Wrap each end over so that it is closed and place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. This dough is much easier to deal with if it is cold.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and using a sharp knife, slice into small discs. I found the easiest way was to pat the discs gently to flatten them and then use a 3cm cutter to shape them. Then I used a thin metal spatula to lift them onto the baking sheets. They do expand and rise on baking so don’t pack them in tightly.
- Glaze the tops of each one by brushing with egg-white ( fork it around before you start so it spreads on better). Scatter each one generously with chopped almonds and sugar crystals.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 8-10 minutes. They will be golden in colour and have slightly risen and expanded. When they are cool, lift them carefully onto a wire rack to cool.
- The biscuits should last for a couple of weeks in an airtight tin – though it is unlikely you will have to test this theory!