Although the name could fool you into thinking that these are cakes, a Shrewsbury cake is a brittle, spiced biscuit that looks a bit like a gingerbread biscuit. It is thanks to playwright
During the British Raj, Shrewsbury cakes became popular in India and you can still buy them there to this day at Kayani Bakery in Pune, where the freshly baked round Shrewsburies have been highly sought after since 1955.
Throughout history, Shrewsbury cakes have been made with either nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon or mace. Rosewater is the only constant, but it was replaced by lemon in the early 20th century. A handwritten 1907 cookbook in my possession contains a recipe for Shrewsbury cakes without spices but with lemon zest.
Mix the flour, sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and the water or rosewater and knead until the mixture comes together into a smooth, stiff dough. Make sure you do not overknead the dough. If the dough turns out to be too dry, add extra water, 1 teaspoon at a time, making sure it doesn’t become too sticky.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper until
Decorate each biscuit by applying a checkerboard pattern with small holes. Place one more dot in the middle of each square. (I have found that the tip of a clean, old ballpoint pen gives the best result.)
Place each biscuit on the baking tray and
Let the Shrewsbury cakes cool on the tray.
© 2020 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.