Celebrating Easter in Gillingham, Dorset – with a very special recipe for Easter biscuits

Today’s very seasonal recipe share is from one of my very favourite members of the Dorset Farmers’ Market gang – Lizzie the Baking Bird.  Lizzie pops up on assorted Fridays and Saturdays each month and sells her delicious food at markets in places like Sherborne, Wimborne, Dorchester and Bridport,  as well as at various Dorset foodie events throughout the summer. Check out her website for details of where you can be like me and stalk her in order to buy her goodies.

LBB Easter biscuits
Photo by Lizzie the Baking Bird, with thanks

So, what are Easter biscuits? They’re made all over the UK but I’d never really encountered them until I moved to Dorset. Traditionally, they are served after church on Easter Sunday, and are presented in a bundle of three biscuits to represent the Holy Trinity. They are eaten alongside hot cross buns, Simnel cake and chocolate eggs as part of British Easter festivities. Easter feasting comes at the end of Lent, so the taste of rich foods is supposed to come as a treat. Similar biscuits eaten before Lent commences are known as Lenten biscuits, and are made to use up eggs and sugar in the way that the Shrove Tuesday pancake does.

As with recipes for lardy cake and other regional delicacies, there are more country-wide variations than there are days in Lent, so perhaps this is a recipe with a central ‘theme’, but for which there are unlimited variations. The theme is spice and fruit. All Easter biscuits are spiced, either through a small addition of mixed spice or ground cinnamon. The fruit is either solely currants, or can be mixed dried fruit, as used here.

Here is Lizzie the Baking Bird’s recipe,  for those of you not lucky enough to be able to buy them from her in person.  Thank you, Lizzie. Happy Easter!

Lizzie the Baking Bird’s Easter Biscuits

Makes c. 12-15 large biscuits

150g butter
125g caster sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon mixed spice
250g plain flour
40g mixed fruit
Egg white and caster sugar for finishing

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180C

Beat the softened butter with the caster sugar. Add the lemon zest and beat again. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until incorporated.

Add the flour and mixed spice and beat until just incorporated and then pop the fruit in and mix again.

Lightly flour the work surface and pop the dough in the centre. Roll out to approximately 5 mm thickness.

“I do re-roll the leftovers!! So repeat the rolling and cutting.”

Cut out the biscuits (typically, they are c. 7cm square) and place on a baking tray.

Glaze the top with egg white and sprinkle a little caster sugar over.

Put in the oven for approximately 15 minutes and pull them out when they are slightly firm and just turning brown.

Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight tin to keep.