In last week’s inaugural post for Cookery Corner, we looked at delicious cake recipes and found some that made our mouth water. This month, we have toned it down a little and are taking a look at biscuits – our favourite cup of tea companion. To begin our search, we identified a number of classic biscuits we wanted to find: ginger nut, shortbread, and digestive. Along the way, a few other types popped up.
Initially, a search for early “ginger nut” returned recipes and mentions of ginger-bread nuts, which itself sounds like a delicious dish.
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The Northern Whig published a recipe for ginger nuts in their ‘women and home’ section (where many of these recipes are found). The piece is written by Florence Irwin, who identifies herself as ‘The Housewife’. The recipe is curiously noted, ‘for Christine’. Not sure who you are Christine, but thank you for requesting a ginger nut recipe.
In another Irish title, we found a similar ginger nut recipe. This column, written by the Belfast News-Letter’s Lady Edith, also included a recipe for orange biscuits and almond biscuits. In one column we have enough biscuits for weeks (or in my case, maybe a week), but we did not stop there.
Our next step was to look at the iconic digestive biscuit. The round biscuit was thought to have beneficial digestive properties and particularly helpful as an antiacid. In this advertisement from The Suffolk Chronicle, the famous digestive biscuit is said to be able to give health to ‘clergymen and persons of studious and sedentary habits’.
Joan, from the ‘Derby and Joan’ column in the Derby Daily Telegraph, provided a recipe for a digestive biscuit for a reader who had requested a recipe which was ‘not too extravagant’.
Another classic, and personally one of my favourites, is shortbread. The Scottish biscuit is traditionally made with a mixture of flour, butter, and sugar, but adapted recipes may use semolina or margarine. The Belfast News-Letter provided recipes using both.
The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News provides recipes for excellent accompaniments to your shortbread. They had served crisp shortbread biscuits, with a pineapple scoop filled with fresh strawberries, and a berry flan. Sounds like an excellent dessert spread to follow a summer BBQ. The recipes are suggestively placed next to a full-size advertisement for Highland Queen whisky. I assume you are supposed to have the two together.
The Imperial biscuit, also known as the Empire or German biscuit, is popular in Scotland and Northern Ireland. During the Second World War, the name of the biscuit was changed from the German biscuit to the Imperial biscuit. It is a double biscuit filled with either chocolate or jam. For a second time, it is our friend Lady Edith who has given us a recipe for the ‘Imperial’ biscuits.
Moving away from the well-known and traditional biscuit varieties, in the Hawick News and Border Chronicle we found a recipe for a cinnamon sandwich biscuit. The writer was encouraging the readers to bake their own biscuits. The recipe calls for cinnamon (of course), glace cherries and angelica and crystallised mimosa balls.
With most of these homemade biscuits, if you store them in an airtight container, they should stay crisp for several weeks. Enjoy your biscuit making adventures!