Monday, October 6, 2008

Shrewsbury Biscuits for Tea Time

Don't you love it when a book that's been on your wish list for some time suddenly shows up at an antique mall? Such was the case with "Jane Pettigrew's Tea Time," of which I found a 1992 reprint in excellent condition at Newnan Antique Mall on Friday. It was just sitting there, on top of a stack of cookbooks, tilted ever so slightly as if someone wanted to make sure I didn't miss it. Since I was already a fan of Miss (Mrs.?) Pettigrew, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the World Tea Expo last year, I was especially happy to take this home with me.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the book included a few color photographs showing some of the recipes in the book, and the one that most appealed to me was Shrewsbury Biscuits, or "cookies," as we would say. Although I've grown somewhat accustomed to translating the British word "biscuit" into "cookie," I don't suppose I'll ever be able to read the word "biscuit" without first thinking of the Southern breakfast bread good for serving with bacon, sausage and other breakfast foods. (What do the Brits call our "biscuits," by the way? Do they go through the McDonald's drive-through and request a Sausage, Egg and Cheese Cookie? Denise? Anyone?)

When making the Shrewsbury Biscuits, I first had to "Americanize" the recipe by figuring out the equivalents for some of the ingredients, but the recipe was so simple this was quite easy to do. The instructions also said to cut out these cookies with a three-inch cutter, but after doing so several times, I decided it was easier to simply roll these into a ball and flatten by hand. So here's my version of the recipe in case you'd like to try them yourself. I enjoyed mine with Earl Grey Tea, and they were simply delicious!

Shrewsbury Biscuits

1 stick of butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup dried currants
3/4 to 1 cup plain flour, sifted (includes extra for handling dough)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add the lemon zest, currants and flour and mix well. Roll or cut into circles about 3 inches wide and about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 15-20 minutes on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or cookie sheet prepared with baking spray) just until edges begin to brown. Sprinkle immediately with sugar and let cool for several minutes before trying to remove them to a wire rack or plate. Yields about one dozen cookies. (Or "biscuits.")


  1. That was a lucky find. I have "Tea-time Recipes" by Jane Pettigrew (The National Trust). It is filled with the history of so many National Trust properties and traditional teatime recipes.

    The cookies look yummy. I really like currents and often add them to scones.

    Also, I wanted to mention a magazine to add to your list. The November issue of "The Herb Companion" (20th Anniversary) has a lot of articles on tea, as well as recipes for scones and muffins.
    The editor says that this special anniversary issue celebrates tea.

  2. Oh lucky you! Another great find. I just love tea books!

  3. I am jealous of this find! But I'm thrilled for you, too!

  4. You might be interested in an alternative version of the biscuit with the same name. In New Zealand, Shrewsbury biscuits are a plain biscuit that comes in two halves - one half is a plain circle (or, even better, witha bit of a crinkly edge), the other half is a circle as well but has a small hole in the centre. When cool, the two halves of the biscuits are put together with raspberry jam.

    There's a recipe here (which I've not tried but looks about the same as my one).

    Also, american biscuits are similar to (but not quite the same as) British/Commonwealth scones. Your scones (from what I tasted in California, anyway) are a bit drier than ours. :)


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