On Sunday I visited some family friends that, by my calculation, I haven't seen in 13 years. And of course I couldn't contemplate going empty-handed, so I baked these biscuits. They had a few things going for them. They'd been posted on Orangette a few months ago, a blog that had already supplied us with one winning dinner that week. I was (gasp!) a little weary of chocolate. And then, instead of chocolate, these were studded with pecans, which I already had sitting happily in the pantry.
The biscuit dough comes together quite easily but needs careful surveillance once in the oven. The general consensus over at Orangette seems to be that the couple tablespoons of milk powder increase its browning and crisping properties, and there's not a long interval between pleasantly brown and burnt. It's worth striving for that perfect hue, though, 'cause the biscuits I undercooked didn't develop quite the same complexity. Molly is right, though - they all improve with age, so save some for later. The biggest challenge on that front is that the uncooked dough is one of the loveliest I've sampled.
(seen at Orangette, who credits them to The Tenth Muse by Judith Jones)
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line one or two baking trays with paper and lightly spray them with oil.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, bicarb soda and salt.
In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Beat in the egg, milk powder and vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, then fold in the pecans by hand.
Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray, leaving plenty of space between dollops. Molly suggests pressing the dough drops into circles - I didn't do this but you might like to if you want crisp biscuits. Bake the biscuits for 8-10 minutes, until they're lightly brown all over (watch them carefully to ensure they don't burn).