14 Jul 2013

plain malt biscuits

Sorry - I ate them all before I took a photo

I have told you before that I love a plain cake – simple, barely sweet. Of course you can fancy it up by serving it with fruit or icing or ice cream – or whatever – but a perfect perfectly-plain cake can stand on its own.

However, I’ve never contemplated baking a perfectly plain biscuit. Shortbread, I suppose, is close to it, but if you say ‘plain biscuit’ I’ll word associate and come back with store-bought biscuits like ‘milk arrowroot’ or ‘scotch finger’ biscuits, and I’m not really a fan of those. So make your own? Why bother?

Because you’ll be in for a lovely surprise. These are morning tea biscuits, mainly because you’ll feel compelled to dunk them in your cup of tea (which, when I think about it, is possibly not very ladylike or proper, is it?).

The flavour is not at all sweet, but warm and cosy – it’s hard to put your finger on it, but there is a distinctly pleasing flavour in each bite. Their subtlety will be your undoing – they are very morish.

These malt biscuits are also good fun to make because you get to play with your cookie cutters! This would be lots of fun if you were cooking with children, but adults should find it equally enjoyable. Can I just say though, that the original recipe’s instructions were frustratingly vague – without advising what size cutter to use, you were promised 12 biscuits at the end of it! Not good.

So go put the kettle on and enjoy one or two (or more) of these perfectly-plain plain biscuits.

Plain malt biscuits
Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe. A note on the malt: mum and I could not find malt powder (specified in the original recipe), only malt drinks loaded with sugar. I finally found a 1kg tin of liquid malt extract (Saunders brand). It’s very thick – almost like tar – to do spray your measuring cup with a little oil to help it slide off (and be patient!). At this rate, you’ll have the tin for the rest of your life.
  • Beat 150 gms soft butter with 1 cup icing sugar until pale and creamy.
  • Add 1 egg, ¼ cup liquid malt extract, 1 tspn vanilla and beat until well combined.
  • Now sift in 2 ½ cups plain flour, 1 tbspn cornflour and 1 tspn baking powder and combine to form a smooth dough.
  • Roll out dough between two sheets of baking paper til about 5mm thick. Slide onto a baking try (still between paper) and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • When ready, preheat your oven to 160.
  • Choose your favourite cookie cutters and stamp away, flouring the cutter between each biscuit to prevent sticking, and transfer the individual biscuits to a lined baking tray. Once you have cut as much as you can from the sheet of dough, you can either re-roll the scraps and start again, or do as we did: roll the scraps into small balls and flatten slightly with a floured fork.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden, rotating the trays halfway thru. Once done, remove and cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Nice warm (they will be softer and slightly chewy) and of course cooled and hard. And dunked in tea.


    1. Heeheehee! Too good!

      These bring back memories. I used to cook a similar vanilla biscuit with my daughter that tasted slightly of shortbread, only we used a star cookie cutter. Half were gone before they cooled. They had a beautiful aroma. Very Moreish.

      I always meant to try popping some Streets Blue Ribbon ice cream between two of these.

      1. oooh, now there's a thought SB. it's never too cold for ice cream. make these very large and round and you'd have great ice cream sandwiches.

    2. hahaha, now we´ll have to make them to see what they´re like!

    3. These sound perfect for a rainy day. It just so happens I have a rainy day here and might have to give these a whirl, i don't like overly sweet things either. It will probably take awhile to find some malt here too.

      1. how wonderful about the rain, lizzie - perfect excuse to be inside a warm kitchen. i hope you find some malt; now that i've tasted it, i cannot think of a substitute that would not be sweet.

    4. LOL, you ate them all before you took photos... hilarious! Great recipe by the way xox

      1. thanks lizzy :-) such is the occupational hazards of baking morish little biscuits like this!

    5. I love your Plain malt biscuits recipe and i will try it at my home to make it. Let see can i make it.Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    6. thank you, i hope you like them


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