Rainy days have always called for a big pot of tea in my household – in the afternoon I grew up watching my parents enjoy tea and biscuits. With the middle of the Easter long weekend being as gloomy as it is, I felt quite a longing for afternoon tea. And what better to accompany this than some home-baked biscuits?
I’ve been doing a fair bit of baking, now that I don’t live with roommates anymore (a clean kitchen seems to motivate me), and this recipe for Earl Grey and Vanilla Cookies from Butter and Brioche has been beckoning me for a while. I felt dissuaded due to not owning a food processor but this has been rectified – and I’m pleased to say that it was one of the most relaxing evenings I have spent in the past month with these cookies and a big pot of tea.
The recipe calls for any type of tea you prefer – I used black tea and the subtle flavour of tea set off the buttery crumbly texture of the cookies wonderfully. My boyfriend and I could not stop ourselves from grabbing cookie after cookie – we had to stop ourselves from eating the whole batch and saved some for another rainy day.
Try to freeze the dough roll well – ours turned out a little crumbly due to my misreading of the recipe and we had to reshape the round pieces – but rough-hewn different shapes of the biscuits only lends to the charm, in my opinion. A good conversation and good company is made that much better by having something warm and fresh to snack on.
The recipe is as follows, from Butter and Brioche:
- 2 tbsp. earl grey tea leaves, or preferred black tea
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean, chopped into quarters and ends trimmed (I didn’t have vanilla bean so just omitted this from the recipe – although I imagine the cookies would be just that little bit more flavoursome because of this!)
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup icing sugar
- 1 ¼ cup plain flour
- Pinch of sea salt ( I used normal kitchen salt.)
- 2 tsp. heavy cream (I used Gippsland double cream)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup butter, chopped and slightly softened
- Demerara or raw sugar for sprinkling (I used white sugar)
- Place the tea leaves in a small stainless steel fry-pan set over medium heat, shaking the pan to distribute the tea leaves into an even layer. Watch the leaves and stir them carefully as they can darken easily – toast them for about two minutes until the tea is fragrant. Place the toasted leaves in the bowl of a food processor to cool.
- Add the caster sugar and vanilla bean segments to the food processor bowl with the tea leaves and pulse to combine into a fine powder. Add the cinnamon, icing sugar, flour and sea salt and pulse to just combine. Finally add the cream, vanilla extract and butter and pulse to form a rough dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap scattered with a handful of demerara sugar and roll it gently to coat the outside and form a log shape roughly 1 ½ inches / 3 ½ cm thick. Sprinkle the log with extra demerara or raw sugar to cover it entirely, and transfer it to a freezer for at least thirty minutes to chill.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat an oven to 170 C / 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Remove the log from the freezer and cut ⅓ inch / 1 cm slices off the log, rotating as you go to ensure the cookie shape remains round. Transfer the cookies to the prepared trays, leaving a couple of inches / centimetres between each – the cookies won’t spread that much but they do need their space to crisp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown.