I hope you’re well and truly into the swing of all things Christmas baking by now! Or at least more so than me. With less than a week to go I’ve done next to nothing in terms of producing Christmas related fare. Last year I was all over it like a rash. We had Vanilla Kippels, Fruit Mince Pies (admittedly the latter was posted after Christmas, but that’s just being super organised for the following year, right?), Christmas cake, dairy free steamed puddings…the lot. Time has run away from me this year. It doesn’t help when you’re barely around a kitchen long enough to cook normal meals, let alone special Christmas goodies. Mind you, there’s plenty that can be done in a week! You’d be surpised how much cooking can be packed into a day with a little dedication, a lotta elbow grease and some bangin/ tunes.
These Rum and Spice Biscuits, following the precedent of the Fruit Mince Pies, are a late addition. Made in the lead up to Christmas last year (let’s pretend I’ve got a steaming batch emerging from the oven now, go on play nice, it’s Christmas after all), our household had to try our utmost hardest to ensure that there were actually some left for the day itself!
Light and crispy, these Rum and Spice Biscuits are of the ideal dunking variety. The kind that you need after a long, hard day slaving away in the kitchen. Though it’s not really slaving if you’re enjoying it – which, by the way, you should be! And they needn’t be dunked in tea if you’re too hot and bothered for a warm beverage…they also pair wonderfully with with a cup of cold, creamy milk. Neither overly rich/buttery or heavy in the stomach, one could easily consume a tin in the single sitting while watching a sappy Christmas flick. The spiciness (more so than sweetness) makes them a suitable after dinner ‘cleanser’, to freshen the palate and ready yourself for the main dessert (because hey, it’s Christmas and you’re going to do what you damn well like).
Although they are certainly festive in flavour, there’s no constraints to stop you from making a batch at another time of the year. Keep a few in the freezer for those 0ccasions when guests arrive unexpectedly, and you’ll ensure everyone is a happy chappy. After all there’s only one thing worse than the mad final few hours of baking/cooking/sweating over the stove before the Christmas guests arrive. And that’s when people turn up unexpected on a bog-standard day and you don’t have the ‘it’s Christmas therefore all normalcy goes out the window’ excuse for not having something scrummy squirreled away in the freezer.
Rum & Spice Biscuits
Makes about 30 biscuits
1 ½ cups plain flour, plus about 2 tbsp extra for kneading
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground fennel seeds
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground ginger
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
125g butter, softened
¾ cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 tbsp rum
1 tbsp golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 190C. Line three baking trays with baking paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, fennel, salt, ginger and black pepper into a bowl.
Cream the butter until pale, either by hand or using either an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the rum and golden syrup. Add the sifted flour mixture in thirds, stirring well after each addition until well combined.
Use your hands to work the mixture into a dough. Knead on a lightly floured board for 2-3 minutes. Shape the dough into a log about 3cmx6cm in width and height. Wrap tightly in clingfilm and freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
Using a large sharp knife, slice the log into rectangles about 5mm thick so that you have individual biscuits that are 6x3x5cm. Place on prepared trays, leaving about 2cm between each biscuit.
Bake for 12 minutes or until browned and firm. Transfer biscuits to wire racks to cool.
Will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
Source: Adapted from Margaret Fulton Baking: The Ultimate Collection