Before you ask, I don’t know who Norman is.
Also I’d like to draw your attention to the “h” within the word “farthing.” Please don’t mistake these biscuits for something that they’re not.
That would be a truly terrible name for a biscuit.
I had measured out the dry ingredients for this particular bake probably a week ago before deciding that I was too tired to try it, and then a day went by and another day and here we are. It’s a rainy Saturday and I thought these would go well with soup. As does rain.
I sifted the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder (the recipe called for self-raising flour, but I didn’t have any so I added some baking powder instead), and measured out the cold butter and cold lard.
Then I used my fingers to rub the flour into the butter and lard to create fine crumbs. It could be my terrible posture because of working from home or it could be the fact that I haven’t seen my physiotherapist for several months, but my carpal tunnel was slightly begging for attention. This part was pretty hard to do but I powered through (may not have been wise) and the result was very tired hands and fine crumbs.
Then I used a round-bladed knife to add in 90 ml of cold water and it did not seem like enough.
So I added a little bit more and it still didn’t seem like enough. It didn’t really come together into a “nice, firm ball” and I didn’t have the strength to keep working on it, so I just put it, slightly dry and crumbly, into clingfilm and popped it into the fridge.
It was supposed to “relax” for 15 minutes in the fridge, so I did the same (just not in the fridge).
I rolled it out and my concerns grew. This is a very dry dough. But I’d rather throw out ruined biscuits than start from scratch so I prevailed.
I do have a plain round cookie cutter somewhere, but I couldn’t remember where I stored it. And I also could have used a glass (again) but I didn’t feel like doing that when I had a little crimped edge cookie cutter (is that what they’re called?) within reach.
The first dozen were stamped out, pricked with a fork and ready for the oven.
Two things about this process. First, the dough was really tough to roll out so I’m fairly certain that it’s not the thickness it was supposed to be. It’s supposed to be “slightly thinner than the thickness of a pound coin” and even though I do have several pound coins in my home, I didn’t get them out to compare. I guessed. And I think I guessed wrong. Secondly, the instructions say “using a biscuit-pricker or a fork” and I have to know: what is a biscuit-pricker? Because it sounds more like an insult than a utensil.
Good news is the more I rolled and re-rolled, the easier the dough became to work with.
I wonder if it would work to make this dough in a food processor like a pie crust. I may have to retry this recipe one day without the hands-on method.
Also this dough makes a lot.
And that’s not even all of them.
But I did try one, and it was pretty good!
It had a nice crispiness to it, but it was super plain. I mean, it’s basically a cracker (sorry, Brits), so it does better with a bit of butter and cheese.
Not too shabby!
Now, here’s the thing. I wasn’t going to do the second part of this recipe: homemade butter. The very idea kind of grosses me out and I just don’t see why it’s necessary when I have butter in the fridge from the grocery store. But then I watched The Great British Bake Off‘s Nadiya Hussain’s new Netflix show, Nadiya’s Time to Eat and she made butter. And she made it look so easy!
I mean that’s the whole point of the show: making it easy. (I binged half the season and loved it, by the way, so do yourself a favour and watch it now.)
So I thought I’d face my fears and try. The recipe calls for using 300 ml of double cream, but I just went with 100 ml of whipping cream.
Norman’s instructions? “Whisk until it separates into yellow lumps and watery buttermilk.” That’s good advice, but I appreciated Nadiya’s instructions more: just make whipped cream but then forget about it.
That’s what I did.
It took a lot longer than you’d expect.
And it seemed like such a waste because I do love whipped cream. It’s so yummy and such a lovely texture, but then I just had to watch it get ruined.
First it turned into that almost crunchy whipped cream texture. Then it stayed that way for a while. Then it started to get weirdly runny again. Then it curdled. (It was disgusting.) Then after probably 5 minutes, it started spraying watery milk everywhere and I stopped and found chunks attached to the whisks.
Nadiya requires muslin cloth (which I don’t have), but Norman said I only needed a sieve, so I went with Norman for this next step.
He then said to rinse it gently with cold water until the water runs clear. The last rinse should be with salt water and then scooped out, put in a dish, covered and put in the fridge until it’s ready to be used.
I took it back out of the fridge and put some of it on a cracker (sorry, farthing biscuit) and you know what? It’s delicious!
I made crackers (sorry, farthing biscuits)! I made butter! I will be making butter again and I will be making these again, possibly with a food processor, and also possibly with some herbs or garlic salt or something.
P.S. If you’re feeling brave, try to make your own butter. It’s easier than you think and really tasty.