These are the cylindrical biscuits you find in really posh
boxes of biscuits, usually dipped in chocolate at one end.
Here we make them naked so that they can be dipped into
something, such as lemon posset,
as you eat. They are rather time consuming to make and
quite difficult to get right: the last picture above highlights
the good ones from our early attempts.
Sufficient for eightyish biscuits.
200 gm butter
175 gm icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 large eggs, whites only
200 gm plain flour
For this recipe you need to make yourself a stencil out
of thick (but not corrugated) card; I used 1 mm thick plasticard
which I happened to have handy but any normal card will
do. Cut a square 10 cm on a side and then cut a hole 7.5
cm in diameter (approximately the size of a ramekin) in the
card. You will also need two pallet knives and the handle
of a small wooden spoon.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
Beat the butter with the sugar and the vanilla extract (a
food mixer is easiest for this; it needs to be beaten until it
turns quite pale).
Add the egg whites and continue beating.
Add the flour and continue beating.
You should end up with a very soft putty-like
dough; leave it to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
Place the stencil on the grease-proof paper and use the
pallet knife to scrape a thin, flat, layer of the mixture into
the hole in the stencil: you want to make it approximately 1.5
mm thick, probably just slightly higher than the thickness of
the cardboard. Getting the thickness right is very much
a matter of practice but you have lots of mixture here to get
it right with.
Lift the stencil and repeat so that you have four circles
of the mixture on your baking tray; don't do any more as you
won't have enough time to process them all in step 11.
Timing is really critical from now on...
Cook for 5 or 6 minutes; the biscuits are ready when their
outer edge, where they meet the paper, just starts to
brown; this may vary with the thickness of the layer.
You can try running a seconds-based timer but the thickness of
the biscuit layer has such a large effect that, in the end,
you have to look. If you make the layer too thick the
biscuits won't brown until more than 6 minutes have passed and
will feel spongy. If you make the layer too thin the biscuit
will be too brittle to roll, if not the first one then
certainly by the time that you remove and attempt to roll the
last one of the four (since the biscuits begin to harden as
soon as you take them out of the oven). In the last
picture above the ones on the left were too thin and the ones
on the right and to the rear too thick.
Remove from the oven and immediately left one biscuit from
the paper with a pallet knife and very quickly roll it around
the handle of a wooden spoon. The biscuit should be like
a tiny thin pancake: malleable but not spongy or brittle.
Repeat, as quickly as you can, with the remaining three
Dust off the baking paper, run the baking tray under the
cold tap briefly in order to cool it quickly, wipe it dry and
repeat from step 7 a lot of times.
If you have more than one baking tray you can try
interleaving the spreading and the cooking but do take care
not to overcook the biscuits while by getting too distracted.