One more week and I’ll be blogging from Madras. I am counting every single day. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I can’t wait to get away from the rains. I need some sunshine. I need to overdose on South Indian food. Just the thought of going back home is comforting.
I should probably stop daydreaming so much about home and all those yummy things I’m going to get to eat. I should probably talk about something of higher pertinence, perhaps this little town called Shrewsbury in England.
Shrewsbury, a quaint little town gave us the good old Shrewsbury cakes or biscuits. Does it ring a bell? These biscuits are still very famous in Pune’s Kayani Bakery. Back in the day, before independence, Iranian immigrants took shelter in parts of India, particularly Mumbai and Pune.
For a livelihood, the Iranians established plenty of cafes and bakeries. They brought with them their breads, cakes and cookies that became a massive hit among Indians; one of them being Shrewsbury biscuits. But I still wonder how a British teatime treat became an Iranian specialty.
I don’t even know if Shrewsbury produces these biscuits anymore but Kayani makes about 200 kilos of these biscuits every day and if you go too late, you don’t get to have the biscuits. It’s interesting how traces of colonial hangover can still be seen in the littlest of things.
I believe this recipe is as good as the original because it’s from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. Traditionally, Shrewsbury biscuits had some form of dried fruit in them. You could leave out the fruit if you want to.
- 200 g (1 ¾ cup) plain flour
- 75 g (3/4 cup) caster sugar, extra for sprinkling
- 100 g butter, softened
- 1 egg, separated
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 50 g (1/4 cup) currants
- 2-3 tbsp milk
- Preheat the oven to 200 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg yolk and beat further. Add the lemon zest and beat further.
- Sieve in the flour and mix well. Add the currants and enough milk to make the dough soft.
- Tip the dough on a work surface and knead gently. Roll the dough into ¼ inch thickness. Using a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut rounds. Place the rounds on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Bring the tray out, brush with egg white, sprinkle caster sugar and bake for 5 more minutes until the biscuits are brown.