While some people look for brightly colored eggs for Easter, I am on the prowl for Sedgemoor Easter cakes (read cookies or biscuits). Now, I am not particularly partial to “sweet things” or desserts, but Sedgemoor Easter cakes are a special treat that will be enjoyed by both young and old alike.
I realize that this is probably not a suitable recipe for those faithful to the “Mediterranean diet,” but trust me, it is OK to sin a little.
I first “discovered” Sedgemoor Easter cookie recipe some years ago in the New York Times, but the original recipe may be found in Florence White’s 1932 cookbook Good Things in England A Practical Cookery Book for Everyday Use. This cookbook was reprinted in 2003 and there is an excellent Blog on Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits or “Cakes” with the recipe in grams for those who are metrically-inclined. I will stick to Tbs and tsp to preserve our somewhat outdated traditions in cooking.
West England is known for its great biscuits and potted cream and dairy products and this sensational recipe brings together all of those great English traditions. This recipe includes a confectioner’s sugar glaze to set off the great flavors of this currant biscuit. You can substitute dried cranberries for currants, but why bother trying to improve on perfection.
Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits
- 3/4 cup dried currants
- 2 Tbs brandy
- 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 oz (1 stick) of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 4 tsp milk
- Place currants in a small bowl, add brandy and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment.
- Place flours and salt in mixer. Mix briefly on low speed to blend. Dice butter, add to mixer bowl and mix on low speed until blended with flour to make a crumbly mixture. Whisk sugar and spices together and add to mixer. Mix on low. Add egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, currants and brandy, and mix on low just until clumps of dough start to form. Turn dough out on work surface. Knead briefly to smooth.
- Roll out about 3/8-inch thick. Us a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, preferably fluted to cut rounds. Re-roll the scraps. Place rounds on baking sheet. Bake about 25 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a rack.
- Mix confectioners’ sugar with milk and remaining vanilla, and brush on warm cookies. When glaze has set, brush on a second coat. Allow to cool completely. If desired, wrap in packages of three and tie with pastel ribbon (Holy Trinity).
This recipe yields about 18 cookies and I always make a double batch. You will certainly agree after you have tasted these wonderful English “cakes.”
Therese Saint Clair