Friday, 24 June 2022

Arrowroot Biscuits - À La Mrs. Crocombe Of Audley End

Does anyone else watch the English Heritage videos on YouTube from Audley End, a stately listed house in England?  I adore the cook - Mrs. Crocombe - as played by Kathy Hipperson, (along with several other re-enactors).  And I am a big fan of Dr. Annie Gray, the English food historian, who has also played Mrs. Crocombe.

This recipe is from the book How To Cook The Victorian Way with Mrs. Crocombe by Annie Gray and Andrew Hann.  So I thought this one looked good, and I made it, and it was a sad travesty of a biscuit.  Their fault?  My fault?  I think that our warm, humid Brissie weather has a vastly different effect than chilly Brit weather on a soft dough like this one.  So I determined to try it again, with a chilly twist.  And it worked beautifully!


golden, crispy and chocolatey - and blingy!

Here we have attempt number two.  The first time the dough was clearly too soft and turned into a big puddle after baking.  Also the instructions about which size of spoon to use, and the bit about dipping them in melted chocolate was seventy pages further in, as a tiny footnote to Mrs. Crocombe's original manuscript!  What the?!  It was sheer luck I found it at all.  But I'm very glad I persevered as they were "stonking" as YouTuber Barry Lewis often proclaims.


Kathy Hipperson as Mrs. Avis Crocombe

Recipe by Mrs. Avis Crocombe (adapted by Dr. Annie Gray and Andrew Hann)

Makes about 24: (I made 26!)

ingredients:

115g./4 oz butter, softened (not melted)

140g./5 oz caster sugar

85g./3 oz plain flour

85g./3 oz arrowroot flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2-1 scant tsp orange flower water

100g./3.5 oz chocolate - dark or milk, your choice

Bling, if you like - I added lots of gold and silver and multi-coloured balls and sprinkles


Method:

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl

Sift the plain flour and the arrowroot flour together in a separate bowl

Vigorously stir the beaten eggs into the butter and sugar, adding some of the flour mixture as you go, so it doesn't curdle

Then fold in the rest of the flour mixture, and the orange water

Now into the fridge for at least 30 mins. or the freezer for 15 mins.

Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto lined baking trays - six fits nicely on a tray, so you will need to make a few batches (and keep the dough in the fridge in between batches)

Bake for 15 minutes at 180C/350F till the edges are golden

Cool for a few minutes on the trays, then place onto wire racks

Once cool, melt the chocolate (I used Lindt milk) and brush it over the tops with a silicone brush, or just dip them in bodily

And bling like crazy!

Notes:

I suggest using small to regular eggs.  I only had large eggs, which I feel were too much!  Remember that Victorian-era eggs were smaller than current day eggs

These biscuits like to spread so leave plenty of room on the trays

I didn't have enough arrowroot flour so I had to add some cornflour (cornstarch to American cooks?) to bulk it up.  I was thinking of using some rice flour but apparently you have to halve the amount, so I thought that was way too confusing :-)



ingredients gathered

add the beaten eggs once you have creamed the butter and sugar

start stirring in the flours

flours and orange water beaten in

dough ready for the fridge or freezer - a heart or a bottom? :-)

ready for some baking @180C for 15 mins. 

slightly burnt broken-up scraps of biscuit - 1st sad attempt

They stuck together in a huge puddle of slightly burnt dough!  Mr P. said they tasted good anyway.


golden and crispy - yay, successful 2nd bake!

brushed with milk choc and blinged up!

and plated nicely :)


© Sherry M.

This is the Maranta arundinacea plant (also known as arrowroot); the one most commonly used to make arrowroot flour though other plants are also used.  It is a large perennial herb with an edible rhizome, from which they make the flour.


28 comments:

  1. wow Those cookies are loaded with sprinkles! I would love to have a couple for my tea :-)

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  2. Haven't seen those videos -- they look like fun. And this is a nice looking cookie (biscuit!). Like the addition of the orange flower water. Interesting observation about eggs. When I was a kid, "medium" eggs were the ones most people bought (and cookbooks used to specify the medium size most often, or at least that's my impression). These days it seems to be "large" eggs all the way. Anyway, interesting post -- thanks.

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    1. yes funny to think chooks laid smaller eggs a hundred years ago:-) You're right about modern recipes always calling for large eggs.

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  3. The sprinkles make these cookies look fun and they sound delicious.

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  4. Yum! These look scrumdiddlyumptious! How funny about the footnote, lucky you have eagle eyes!

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    1. hi sammie. it was indeed lucky that i kept flicking thru the book:-)

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  5. I will look for the YouTube channel to watch the show. I would love to have some of your cookies to dip in my coffee. Gerlinde de Broekert

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  6. Interesting about the egg. Probably a result of industrial practices in keeping hens confined, but I try not to overthink these things or I would be limited to eating the grass in my back yard.

    You are intrepid indeed to keep trying when the recipe is so sketchy.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. yes hens are just bred for laying Pauline from Happy retiree's kitchen has told me. I know what you mean. best to eat as carefully and well as you can but not despair. i was quite proud of myself for trying again.

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  7. Lovely! I sometimes watch Mrs. Crocombe on YouTube. So much fun.

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  8. I'm not sure that I should thank you for pointing us in the direction of Mrs. Crocombe's videos Sherry, lol. Hubby doesn't generally watch cooking videos but we settled into 5 of the them in a row this arvo, his type of cooking, if I make it of course. Such a great series.Think I'll have to buy the book now.And not a hint of plastic anywhere in that kitchen. Loved it. Chooks are bred just to lay eggs now, so the eggs are bigger. Anyway the biscuits look great, and you blinged them up beautifully. Fun post, thanks.

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    1. tee hee pauline. she is addictive isn't she? i have watched many of them.

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  9. Hi Sherry, this is such a fun post filled with lots of fun facts and I always like you share your failures along with your successes, Bernadette, New Classic Recipe.

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    1. thanks muchly bernadette. It was fun to make and write too :-)

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  10. These biscuits look good. I often use arrowroot flour with my other gluten free flours.

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  11. They look so delicious, Sherry, and I love how disorderly they look too! Hope Mr P didn't eat all of them in one go :0)

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    1. Thanks Anon. they went down very quickly! but i did give lots away, as i do with most of my baking.

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  12. Good note on the eggs - thanks. I am getting all mine form the farmers these days and they tend to vary from small to large. I always use the small and medium ones for non-baking recipes, as most U.S. recipes call for large. This is perfect!

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    1. thanks david. Yes I only have large eggs in my fridge but this recipe would probably do better with smaller ones.

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  13. Love an historic recipe. I've only seen arrowroot biscuits in the supermarket so it is interesting to see this recipe - that youtube show sounds very interesting.

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    1. yes the show is worth a look. I love historical recipes too. Arrowroot gives baking a really soft texture.

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  14. Sherry, I love a good British show. I can't say I have come across this one here in the states ( may not be available). The joy of cooking and baking brings trial and error. Looks like you got it! Delicious biscuit perfect with coffee. I don't know if this would be helpful but, perhaps a silicone mat would be helpful to bake evenly. As always, thanks for sharing with us. So enjoyable.

    Velva

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    1. hi velva it's actually on YouTube so should be available to you. I love it! I've found silicone mats not very helpful in my baking. they seem to distribute the heat differently - or something! Not sure what it is but it never seems to work for me :( Thanks for the kind words.

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