The Tea companion: Whole Wheat Biscuits
Biscuits are my favourite tea time snack. And, tea is the perfect drink to awaken the senses and refresh the mind. No wonder then, that my day begins with a cup of tea and the mid day pick me up is, yes, tea!
For a tea fanatic like me it is essential to have a stock of biscuits in the pantry, always. But, there are times when we do run out. Life takes over so completely, with assignments and readings, that food, just once in a while, does not remain a priority.
After a long break we are putting it back in the front and center of things! And I am counting days until the winter break begins, when I can relax, bake and make merry as the season of joy takes over. Also, I will be traveling home! Mornings out in the lawn with hot tea, biscuits and peacocks for company, could there be a better description of paradise? Not in my world! But, there is time before I can soak in that beauty. In the meantime though, there is still some snow on the ground from last week’s snowstorm, the first of the season and cups of tea are on my mind as I study and make plans for the holidays.
Presenting to you a simple, and I mean truly an easy, no-frill recipe for whole wheat biscuits. I am quite sure that most people with a working kitchen will be able to find the basic ingredients to make a batch or two. The one that might be tricky is cardamom, so improvise and make it your own.
Today’s batch of biscuits, yes I did indeed bake them today evening, have a twist that is all my own. Cooking is an endless experiment, no recipe is truly original. The uniqueness stems from the combination of flavours and techniques brought to bear upon the ingredients. Whoa, the academic in me resurfaced! The statement is true. Do excuse the halting, slightly off pace prose. The chatter of ideas and thoughts about bridging them in my mind can often seep into the everyday.
Time: 45-50 minutes. Prep: 20 minutes, Cooking: 25-30 minutes.
1 cup whole wheat flour,
1/2 cup sugar,
1 tsp cardamom powder,
1/4 tsp salt,
1/2 cup unsalted butter or cooking oil,
2-4 tbsp milk,
1/4 to 1/2 cup rolled oats for coating,
12-13 pieces of almonds, clean, dry.
As the collage above suggests, the process of making the dough is straightforward. In a mixing bowl, measure the flour, add in sugar, salt and cardamom powder followed by the fat, whichever you are using. When using butter make sure you leave it out for at least 10 minutes to bring it to room temperature or warm it in the microwave for 10 seconds, no more. Now mix all the ingredients. You will get a clumpy mixture mirroring the consistency of bread crumbs. This is perfect. Next add 2 tablespoons of milk. Start kneading the dough in earnest. If it doesn’t hold together by itself, add another tablespoon of milk. Add only on spoonful at a time, too much and the dough will become a sticky mess. You want to get a moist consistency but not sticky. It should be just stiff enough to hold shape while being easy to roll off your hands.
The next step is to pre-heat the oven. My oven takes about 7-10 minutes to heat up. So, gauging from that I would recommend putting it on around now. You need to bake the biscuits at 360° to 370°F. I baked mine at 370°F. It took 20 minutes for them to be done, but I like them well done. So stick to 360°F and keep them in for 25 minutes to get a slight browning on the outer rims.
Next, to shape the biscuits take small balls of dough, one at a time, about the size of a small red turnip. When shaping the ball notice how your fingers will completely fold in. That’s the right size to get biscuits that aren’t too thick nor wafer thin. Make the balls as round as you can and then gently start pushing down in the center to flatten them into discs. Do not worry if you end up with cracked boundaries, imperfections and finger impressions are all part of the experience of eating home made biscuits.
The next step is inspired from my experience baking scones. To add a little more fibre, pat the flat discs in a bowl of oats. Coat both the sides and lay down on a baking sheet. I used my cast iron pizza pan, it’s a large-sized plate that is as good as a non stick pan and is extremely versatile for baking. I divided my batch of biscuits into those coated with oats and others garnished with an almond in the center. All you need to do is press an almond gently into the dough. There is a third option too, to mix the oats into the dough. That will require a little more moisture, but you have to be the judge of that as you go along. Below is a photograph from when I baked them with the oats mixed in.
Around the 20 minute mark keep a watch for signs of too much browning. Below is a picture of the underside of my biscuits. They are a fairly deep brown. So stop sooner than 25 minutes to keep them lighter.
Take them out and let them rest on the sheet until they are easy to handle. You can devour them right away! I made two cups of tea, one for myself and one for the husband while waiting for the biscuits to bake. It was well worth the effort!
Do try this recipe and write in with your comments, questions and feedback.