Christmas Kitchen: Orange & Festive Spice Biscuits
As much as I wish it did, it really does not feel like Christmas this year. There are some lovely Christmas lights up in Beverly Hills, all the shop windows have pretty awesome holiday displays and the supermarkets are full of festive food and music, but I’m still not really feeling into the festive spirit. I think it has something to do with the fact I’m hard programmed that Christmas should be cold, it should involve snuggling by the fire and massive hot mugs of mulled wine, and the weather here in Los Angeles still resembles something akin to the perfect English Summers day. (Not that I am complaining about the beautiful weather, though!)
In an attempt to get into the Christmas spirit, I thought up and have been tweaking this recipe for the perfect Christmas biscuit, which certainly for me, the taste perfectly encapsulates Christmas at my parents house, and I can’t seem to stop munching on. I have not been able to find festive cookie cutters, unless I go to a specialist store so I had to use my usual round ones, but I think these would make the perfect star biscuits. This recipe makes about 25 round biscuits, but it will obviously depend on the size of your cutter.
- 190g (1 1/2 cups) Plain Flour
- 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
- Pinch Salt
- 1 1/2 tsp Freshly Grated Orange Zest
- 65g (1/2 Cup) Granulated Sugar (Caster Sugar if you’re in the UK)
- 115g (1/2 Cup) Unsalted Butter, Softened
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 tbsp Milk
- 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
- Demerara Sugar (Natural Brown Sugar), for sprinkling
Mix the flour, spices, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside. I find a big metal whisk does this really well. Grate your orange zest onto a large, clean chopping board and pour the granulated sugar over the top. With the back of a metal spoon, rub the zest into the sugar until all of the sugar is a lovely pale orange colour. This will make the flavour really stand out in your biscuits, more so than if you had just added the zest to the mixture. In another large bowl, measure out your softened butter and add the orange sugar. Cream together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well mixes, and slightly pale. Add the milk, and half the egg, beaten. I know you usually can’t half eggs, but guesswork seems to be okay in this recipe, as long as you have what is roughly half your beaten egg in the mixture. Beat well until the mixture is smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix until well combined, finishing off to make a lump of dough with your hands, adding a little more milk if needed. Shape the dough into a fat sausage and wrap in wax or greaseproof paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, though it can be left overnight.
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (325 degrees fahrenheit). Slice the dough sausage in half, and roll out each half on a well floured surface until that are biscuit thickness and cut out shapes with your preferred cutter, laying them on non stick baking trays. Add a little water to the remaining egg mixture, and brush the tops of all the biscuits with the egg wash using a pastry brush, then sprinkle each biscuit with Demerara Sugar. You can use more granulated sugar, but the lovely golden of the Demerara makes the biscuits look, as well as taste festive. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges of the biscuits are just slightly golden brown. Cool on a wire cooling wrack, and enjoy!
What really embodies the taste of Christmas for you?