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January 01, 2019
The secret Bath Oliver recipe goes back 250 years to a venerable physician Dr William Oliver. He invented this popular Regency diet biscuit to help sustain his patients while he treated them for stomach ailments. The very name seems to evoke a bygone gentility, but sadly, United Biscuits, who owns the brand have stopped production.
Perhaps the quietly refined taste and texture could no longer compete with the onslaught of razzmatazzy new biscuits for cheese, that need a field of dry herbs and spices ploughed into the mix to make them marketable. Amongst all the biscuits for cheese it was the one that seemed the most unique, so I’m surprised a culinary cultural icon like this can just disappear.
Here’s a version of the recipe you might like to try. Slightly less brittle, more meltingly chewable according to Michael who said he preferred it to the original.
Ingredients:400g plain flour100g unsalted butter (cold, cubed)110-120ml tepid water or milk½ tsp quick yeast½ tsp sugar½ tsp salt
Method:In a jug, add the yeast and sugar to the water and mix to dissolve.
In a large bowl, place the flour and salt and with your fingertips rub the butter in until you have a breadcrumb like texture. Make a well in the middle, add the yeast mixture and mix until ingredients come together to form a dough, then knead it lightly.
Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm and place in a warm place to rise (prove) for an hour and a half.
Knead again for a few mins and leave to rise (as before) for half an hour.
Place on a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a thickness of 1cm, then use a 12cm round cookie cutter to make 24 biscuits. Place on a lined baking tray and prick them all over with as fork. Leave again to rest for half an hour.
Preheat oven to 180⁰C (fan). Place in the oven and bake for 15 mins, or until they are lightly golden. Take out the oven and allow to cool.
Gaby Van Clarke
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