The Bakers’ ABC: A is for Abernethy Biscuits

It’s a new year and in the spirit of self-improvement, I shall post weekly a definition from The Baker’s ABC (1927) by John Kirkham. Hopefully after I have gone twice through the alphabet this year, we shall all have learned something.

Abernethy Biscuits
A rich hard biscuit made from a recipe credited to the celebrated Dr Abernethy. The usual mixture is 8lb soft flour, 2 1/2lb butter, 1 1/4lb sugar, 2 ½ pints water. The dough is braked and allowed to lie some hours before handling. It must not be very stiff, because in that condition, on account of the large proportions of fat, the pieces are difficult to mould without cracking at the edge.

“Hand-made” Abernethy biscuits are still made in large quantities in Glasgow and the West of Scotland A machine has been designed which presses the individual pieces for the biscuits, “pins” (rolls) them out, and “stabs” (docks) them ready for panning and baking:

It consists of a leather belt (5) which travels intermittently, carrying pieces of dough, which are shaped under pressers (6), (7) and (8), which are formed respectively concave, convex and flat. The flat pressers in addition have a design incorporating the baker’s name, which is imprinted on the biscuit. The initial drive is from the shaft (1), which is geared to intermediate shaft (2). Shaft (2) operates an eccentric which imparts the reciprocating motion to the pressers; and, at the same time, operates shaft (3) by means of a Geneva stop which is transmitted to chain wheel (4) which operates the belt.

From The Baker’s ABC by John Kirkland, formerly Head Teacher of National School of Baking, published 1927 by Gresham


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