Hi all! Long time no speak.
I’ve been remiss and for that I apologise. I can only thank you for hanging on so long. Let’s hope these biscuits are worth the wait.
So, “Why Doolally?” I hear you ask. Because I like the word and quite honestly I don’t think it gets enough air time in the day-to-day conversations of your average Joe or Jane.
Why Garibaldis? Perhaps for the same reason …
It was a recent request by the Pater for these that made me suddenly consider them for the first time in years. I didn’t think I had seen them in the shops recently; were they still made at all? There was a time when such biscuits graced every plate at every Mother’s Union Meeting up and down the country, but perhaps they had now been replaced by the more indulgent chocolate chip cookie or ever-reliable custard cream? And whilst I hate to be wordist about it, could the biscuit’s possible demise have something to do with its overly exotic name? Garibaldi. It sounds so important, so regal, so full of promise but in reality the biscuit’s far from grand. I can only imagine the confusion that Garibaldi initiates suffer on opening their biscuit packet.
To make matters worse (or better, depending on whether you’re like my father or not) their alternative appellation is squashed fly biscuits, something my dad pronounces with an impish schoolboy delight. Sounds delicious, eh? Now I’m sure you really want to try them.
But in truth they are good. Fruity and a little crunchy and sweet but not too sweet. It’s only that if you’ve never had them before you might be disappointed to find that something named so spectacularly after such an eminent Italian as Giuseppe Garibaldi was actually rather unspectacular. You’d have thought those Londonian biscuiteers could have come up with something a little more befitting of such a towering figure of Italian society. So called, these morsels sound like they would be suitable rivals for the Viscount or the Florentine; you expect butter, or chocolate, or at least some fresh vanilla beans and instead you get something very nice but altogether less … indulgent. If they had been called “Currant Snaps” or “Average Joe biscuits” everyone might have lowered their expectations and they wouldn’t have looked remotely out of place alongside the unquestionable Digestives, Nice biscuits and Rich Teas.
But perhaps the two entirely incongruous elements of name and appearance can, in the end, just be put it down to a British quirk, and far be it from me to denigrate a quirk. Who wants anodyne anyway?
After some none-too-taxing investigation I have discovered that they are actually still out there gracing the supermarket shelves. They’re probably as popular as they ever were, it’s perhaps that my presence at Mothers’ Union meetings has declined since my youth (hahaha). What I suspect is that the British public actually rarely thinks about the title at all, remembers only that since the day they discovered sugar they had known about Garibaldis, and liked them because they were plain and fruity, or disliked them because they were plain and fruity. No one except a newbie and an inquisitive food blogger thinks twice about it.
So, with that in mind I’m off to make some Cabalooloos before embarking on an Epoustouflant or two. And you, my friends, should make a Doolally Garibaldi.
Note: These can easily be made eggless by omitting the eggwash and brushing with milk or melted butter instead. Also you could try mixing up the dried fruit – think about cranberries or tossing in the some mixed peel and cinnamon too.
225g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
75g butter, softened
75g icing sugar
Place flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until fine crumbs. Pour in 75ml milk, use a round ended knife to mix in and add a little more milk if necessary to make a soft, not sticky dough. Don’t overwork.
Sprinkle flour over the a silicone baking mat or greased baking paper that you will use to bake the biscuits on and roll out half the dough fairly thinly onto it. You may find it easier to split the dough into four and do smaller amounts at a time. Sprinkle the currants over the rolled out dough to make a fairly thick layer (remember to only use half of them if you’ve divided the dough into four).
Roll out the second amount of dough to the same shape (for ease you would use a second silicone baking mat), flip over onto the currant layer and use a rolling pin to flatten as much as you can without causing the currants to break through the dough too much. A little piercing of dough is OK.
Slide the baking mat with the rolled out biscuit dough straight onto a metal baking tray and then cut into rectangles with a sharp knife, slicing down through the dough and not dragging the knife through it as this may tear the dough. Leave the biscuits side by side with no gaps. Prick them with a fork in a few places.
Beat the egg with a fork until well mixed and then brush over the dough. You should only need about half of the egg. If you want you could try using just a beaten yolk, but don’t use just the white as it stops the biscuits becoming beautifully golden.
Bake at 180 C degrees fan for 10-15 minutes, turning once if necessary, or until golden brown.
Allow to cool on the baking tray. One of the joys of these biscuits is breaking them apart, so leave as many attached to each other as possible so that people can do this themselves! Fun times :)