Friday, 11 November 2011

Squashed Flies and Some Garibaldi Facts.

Helloo. How's things? Fancy a cup of tea and perhaps a biscuit or 2? Garibaldi? Maybe you're off on a winter walk and would like to pack a few up in some brown paper and nestle them next to your sandwiches and Thermos.

That's what's great about these old fashioned little chaps, they're sturdy and filling as well as being ever so good to eat; not like shop bought biscuits that give you sweetness without any substance and just leave you reaching for more.

I've done a little Garibaldi research and it turns out, as with lots of British favs, each bite of a Garibaldi is your own slice of (biscuit) history. Mr Garibaldi was an Italian (duuuh) general who led the war of Italian unification and he payed a visit to England in the 1800s. Some how or other this ended up in Scottish (don't tell the Scots, they will claim all biscuit invention as their own) biscuit legend John Carr, creating this squashed fly concoction. And we still love them. Good work Mr Carr.

Some more Garibaldi facts for you, because, well everyone loves a fact right? They're Gene Hunt's, as in Ashes to Ashes man, favourite (just ask Mum). They pop up in Anita and Me, Skins, Dinnerladies and The Young Ones. Aaaaand there are lots of 'Garibaldis' around the world that bear very little resemblance to our squashed flies; a Mexican sponge for example. There, go and impress your friends, and if your friends aren't the type to appreciate biscuit trivia, you need new ones. Harsh, but fact. With Love and Cake.

Garibaldi Biscuits
From Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer by Jane Brocket

A few notes:
  • This is a fairly tricky dough to play with, so I like to deal with a bit at a time; cutting off a chunk, rolling into a rectangle cutting in half and making into biscuits, rather than splitting the whole thing in half and having to roll each half out into a giant rectangle.
  • Squish in lots and lots of currant, the more the merrier....more that you think, it'll make a difference to the final biscuit.
  • You can make these as big and fat or small and dainty as you like. I like a sturdy but not too hefty size and thickness.
Makes a good biscuit tin-full
You will need

a baking sheet, well greased

200g self-raising flour
100 soft butter
125g caster sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
1 egg, beaten
150gish currants
a good sprinkling of granulated sugar

  • Preheat your oven to 180°c.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter with the tips of your fingers (ooor you could do all this in a food processor, adding and whizzing everything in the same order).
  • Mix in enough milk to bring everything together to a soft dough and turn out onto a floured surface.
  • Roll out some of the dough (see notes) into a long rectangle. Then trim the edges and cut tin half so you have 2 rectangles the same size, about the height of your Garibaldi's length.
  • Move one rectangle onto your baking sheet, brush with egg and sprinkle with lots of currants.
  • Push the currants down into the dough and then pop the second rectangle on top. 
  • Brush the top with egg and then sprinkle liberally with granulated sugar.
  • Slice into separate biscuits and shuffle them around so there is a gap between each one.
  • Repeat this process until you've used up all your dough.
  • Bake the biscuits for 12ish minutes, until golden and crisp looking and put the kettle on.

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