Treat your cuppa to what I proudly declare the best biscuit I’ve ever made.
I like pie, but I’ve never really liked apple pie, all that hot mushy fruit fills me with fear. Mock you may, but I’ve wasted many an hour wondering why I thought the best bit of my Granny’s apple pie was the custard. Madness I hear you say, and you’re probably right.
But what I do like are biscuits, all nice and buttery and perfect with a cup of tea. Technically my biscuit of choice would be a custard cream, but what about if I combined the two treats together? Perhaps if I made an apple pie just like a biscuit, maybe then I’d like hot fruit. So I decided to give it a crack and I think this Frankenstein pudding experiment, inspired by Smitten Kitchen might just be the ticket.
It turns out the name biscuit comes from the French meaning ‘twice-cooked’ but don’t let that put you off, The French know nothing about making a good biscuit, pastries yes but biscuits non. We’ll only be baking these little guys just the once and first up is our pastry. The trick with pastry is to keep your cool, so that means cold hands, cold water and whenever it gets too sticky to use – pop it back in the fridge to firm up again.
225g plain white flour
25g granulated sugar
22g unsalted butter straight from the fridge
115ml cold water, add ice cubes to keep it cold
3 medium apples
Squeeze of lemon juice
70g granulated sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 pinches of ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
1 large beaten egg
Cookie cutter (or large jar lid)
To make the dough, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. You then need to mix in the butter, and as I don’t have a fancy machine for this, I like to keep it old school by mixing with my hands. To make it easier I cut the butter into small chunks and work it through until smooth. Then for the messy bit, slowly stir in your cold water with a wooden spoon until combined. Knead the dough just a few times to make a large ball, cut in half, wrap in cling film and flatten it as much as you can with your hands. Then pop in the fridge and leave to chill.
While your dough is chilling it’s time to get your assembly line together. First up, mix the sugar and spices into a bowl for dipping your apples. The second section is a small cup of water, followed by a fork and finally the beaten egg. We’ll come to all of this in a bit, but preparing it in advance prevents a kitchen meltdown later in the process.
Prepare your dough crust: Roll out your dough until it’s about 3mm thick, or as close to this as you can get. Make sure you’ve got lots of flour on the work surface so it won’t stick. Then with your cookie cutter cut 12 discs from each batch of pastry and lay them out neatly on a lined baking tray. Transfer back to the fridge for later.
Peel your apples and cut into thin discs around the same thickness as your pastry. Slice from one side until you get to the core, then repeat on the other side. Rub in a little lemon juice to prevent them going brown. Depending on the size of your apples you may need to trim them down. Either use a smaller cookie cutter, jam jar lid or a knife to make sure it sits neatly in the middle of your pastry disc with space on the side.
Preheat the oven on to 180 degrees.
Building your biscuit
Lay out 6 discs on a lined baking tray, lightly dampen the edges and head back to the assembly line you made earlier. Take a disc of apple and coat in the spiced sugar mixture. Lay two of these on the damp disc and place a second pastry disc on top and crimp the edges together. A fork works well, just make sure it is sealed and don’t worry if you’d prefer to pick it up. Slice a few lines into it to let out the steam. Then repeat until you have 6 perfectly formed apple biscuits. Brush with the egg yolk and sprinkle some of the left over spiced sugar from earlier. This will make it crunch like a biscuit.