Abernethy Biscuits

Scottish cookies with an unusual tang.

Vegetarian. Hands-on time: 10 mins. Total time: 20 mins.

Contributed by Mike Lewis (November 2006).

These popular Scottish biscuits (cookies) are unusual in that they contain caraway seeds, giving them a pungent flavor, reminiscent of aniseed. Caraway (also known as Persian cumin) is used in herbal treatments for upset stomachs, coughs and colds. If you find its fragrance too strong, you can always leave it out of the recipe. The results won't be completely authentic, but they'll still taste good.

Many people assume that the biscuits get their name from the village of Abernethy, near Perth, but in fact they're named for their inventor, Dr John Abernethy. In Scotland, they're sold under the trade name Simmers, but they're also very easy to make at home. This recipe only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and bake. It should yield between 20 and 25 cookies.



Pre-heat oven to 380F (190C)

Sift the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it in until it's well mixed. Add the seeds.

Next, mix in the beaten egg. Add as much of the milk as necessary to make a stiff dough. Roll out the dough very thinly on a floured board. Using a cookie cutter, stamp out the biscuits and transfer to an oiled baking tray. Gather up the trimmings and roll out again to make more cookies. You'll probably need a second tray to hold them all.

Bake for about five minutes, then turn the biscuits over and continue baking for another five minutes, or until they're golden brown. Leave to cool, and store in an airtight container.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.