These were going to be cut-out biscuits for the Ovarian Cancer fundraising Morning Teal, but first I wanted to make them without egg, for my friend who can’t eat eggs, and then I thought I’d make them gluten-free, for my friend who can’t eat gluten and by the time I was done inventing a new gluten-free flour and messing with the recipe as is my wont, my beautiful ribbon and dinosaur-shaped biscuits spread all over the biscuit tray and ran together until they looked like mis-shapen brandy snaps – thin, a little bit flexible while hot, and generally wafer-like.
They were also really yummy, which was almost adding insult to injury, at this point. I decided to cut the next batch into circles, and sandwich them together with blue curaçao icing, for the purposes of the morning tea, and they were pretty good like that, but secretly I knew that my ugly biscuits had a much better fate before them – they were made to go with ice-cream or whipped cream and fruit.
So that’s what I did with them for dessert the following night, and I was right – they were great with icecream. And they will be even better with whipped cream, if I can find the right configuration for them.
If I were making them again, I’d plan to shape them into baskets over the back of a glass or something similar – they really have that sort of personality. Then again, this recipe makes about a hundred wafers, so maybe not. I’d probably go mad. You can certainly halve this recipe – the reason I’ve made it so large is to make the gluten-free flour mix manageable. But you can make the mix, pull out 250 g of it and set the rest aside for gluten-free cupcakes (which is what I did with the rest of it), if you prefer.
Your shopping list1 1/2 cups rice flour 1/2 cup coconut flour 1/3 cup arrowroot or tapioca flour 1/3 cup cornflour 1/3 cup potato flour 1/2 cup cornmeal (polenta) 440 g caster sugar 440 g butter, softened zest of two oranges 2 tsp ground cardamom seed 1 tsp bicarb of soda pinch of salt
Now what will you do with it?
Mix together the flours and cornmeal and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar, then mix in the oranges and cardamom. Add the flour mixture, bicarb and salt, and mix everything together well. Form into two long logs about 4cm in diameter, and wrap them in gladwrap – chill in the fridge for an hour.
(Can I just say, I really hate it when I have to chill biscuit mixture? I always end up with something that is virtually impossible to roll out. Fortunately, this recipe doesn’t really want to be rolled out anyway, but still. I realise that resting the dough imparts it with magical virtues and probably, now I think about it, allows the gluten to relax, which is a non-magical and good thing, but actually probably not necessary in the case of a gluten-free dough, so in this case, I’m probably telling you to rest it out of religious fervour rather than out of any logical conviction. Perhaps someone who knows more about baking than me might want to chime in in the comments and tell me why this is vital – I’d be very glad to know? And yes, this is the genetic marker that shows that my recipe started off as a cross between two other recipes, both of which rested the dough, with some added random input via gluten-free baking websites. We can call that part the mitochondrial DNA from a surrogate biscuit pregnancy, if you want to extend the metaphor. Personally, I wish I hadn’t, but it’s too late for us all now.)
Anyway. Once you feel that your biscuit is suitably imbued with the mystical properties that come from refrigeration, remove the logs from the fridge and pre-heat your oven to 19o°C.
Slice your logs about 1/3 to 1/2 a centimetre thick, so that you get slightly squished circles, and place well apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for six minutes, then check, and bake them for up to 5 more minutes – these biscuits go from uncooked to too brown quite fast. You want them at the golden end of the golden-brown spectrum.
Use an egg flip to remove them from the trays and either put them onto a rack to cool, or flip them over a glass or a rolling pin to shape them.
Serve with cream or ice-cream and berries. Delicious.
These biscuits are egg-free, nut-free and gluten-free, but not dairy-free or vegan by a long shot, and unless someone has invented a really stunning dairy-free margarine, I wouldn’t try substituting here. The biscuits are so-so in the fructose department – coconut and corn are both things that one is generally advised to be moderate about, and in this context, the amounts are really not high enough to be an issue unless you are eating these biscuits by the kilo. In which case, I think you would have issues with several other things before the fructose/fructans became a problem for you.
In terms of variations, you could make this a plain wafer by removing the orange and cardamom, of course, but why would you? You could also make a gingerbread wafer by replacing the cardamom with 2 tsp ginger and maybe a tsp of cinnamon and half a tsp of cloves. I’d also consider replacing some of the caster sugar with brown sugar, though this might make the biscuits softer. Or a chocolate wafer could be made by omitting the orange and spice and replacing 1/4 cup or 1/8 cup of your flour mix with cocoa powder. Or pick any other flavour combination that appeals to you – lemon zest and a little cinnamon would be lovely, I think.
And, of course, you could do what I did and sandwich the wafers together with a filling of your choice. Nutella or chocolate tahini come to mind. I don’t think anyone would complain if you did that…