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Mrs Beeton’s not so great lemon biscuits

2013 March 14
by lucinda matthews-jones

Emma Vickers (LJMU)

This post forms part of the JVC Bake off  in aid of Comic Relief. You can sponsor all our bakers efforts here.

I decided to attempt Mrs Beeton’s Lemon biscuits on the basis that they looked relatively simple. No Viennese flour, no weird solid sugar and a ‘drop’ biscuit to boot. I pre-heated the oven to 150 used Google to change the old measurements into usable ones and followed the recipe. The amount of butter seemed fine but I couldn’t quite fathom why Beeton would want me to use such a large quantity of flour and sugar. I would clearly be making biscuits for all of the village.

The recipe above suggested using four eggs but the mixture was too stiff, plus I calculated (with no tangible evidence whatsoever)  that eggs were probably much larger in Victorian Britain.  So, I used six yolks and whites, plus the zest of a lemon, lemon juice and half a cup full of water to loosen the mixture. Having rubbed the butter into the flour, I added a bag and a half of caster sugar (amounting to 600g: not enough, according to the recipe), combined this dry mixture with the wet ingredients and started dropping the mixture off the spoon on to a buttered tray, leaving a two inch gap between each dollop to account for spreading. Off they went into the oven. Unfortunately, within about 5 minutes, they had merged into an undulating mass of biscuit. With a bowl of mix left, I decided to wait and see if they were remotely edible. Which they weren’t. Burnt on the edges and far too hard to grace Lucie’s table. Oh well. There’s always next year.

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