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Goosnargh cakes recipe: Vegan MoFo

This is one of those recipes that I've actually never seen in the wild - it's proper old-school and only turns up in food history books and tiny vegan blogs (*whistles, looks away*).

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the crazy world of Goosnargh cakes.

First, a little bit of history cheerfully ripped off from elsewhere on the internet (and if it's written down on the internet, it's true). Goosnargh, where presumably the recipe originated from (can you think of another reason a dish would have that odd name?) is a village near Preston.  Secondly, Goosnargh cakes aren't cakes, they're biscuits. (Another naming fail there. Nice one, history.)

Apparently, they were once eaten at Whitsunday, but I can't seem to find any more on the history of the Goosnargh cake. So, let's make some stuff up: Goosnargh cakes were first brought to England by itinerant unicorns in the early late middle period of history, when Dickens was on the throne. Something like that, anyway.

Goosnargh cakes are in fact shortbread biscuits with a little twist - what gives them their flavour is caraway seeds. (Some recipes include coriander, but most don't bother - if you try it out at home with coriander, tell me how it goes.)

Here's what they look like:

I like caraway, so I liked Goosnargh cakes. If you don't, don't cook these, obviously. Or you could always cook them with something else instead of caraway - a wise lady suggested to me trying it with lavender, or lime and coconut.

All good suggestions, but if you want to cook Goosnargh cakes the traditional way, this is how you do it:

Goosnargh cakes
Makes 8 to 10 biscuits

3oz margarine
5oz self-raising or plain flour
2oz caster sugar
Pinch of salt
half a teaspoon caraway seeds

How you do it
Mix together sugar, flour, salt, and caraway seeds.
Mix in margarine until it comes together in a single lump of dough.
Refrigerate for half an hour.
Grease a baking tray.
Roll out to a quarter of an inch thick, then cut out circular shapes (I used a glass - cheating!) and lay them on the greased baking sheet.
Dredge with more caster sugar, then pop the baking sheet back in the fridge for  another half an hour.
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 180C (350F).
When the biscuits have done in the fridge, pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the biscuits have a tiny hint of brown at the edges.

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  1. Goosnargh. Goosnargh. That sounds like an angry sound effect. Caraway is good stuff, but I've never had it with sweets before. They look awesome!

  2. Goosnargh sounds like some effluent coming from a goose — I'm sure they are delicious, though. :)

  3. Any recipe created by itinerant unicorns is a winner by my calculations. I love caraway seeds in baked goods, too. Great idea!

  4. The next time I get mad at someone I'm yelling Goosnargh! at them just to see them get offended and confused at the same time. I'm all for caraway in rye but I've never had it in anything sweet, colour me intrigued.

  5. Love the name Goosnargh and anything with caraway seeds gets the nod from me!

  6. Hahaha English towns have the BEST names. OH man. These cookies are incredibly versatile, huh? I want to try the caraway, lavender, and coconut versions!

  7. Those are perfectly shaped cookies! And such a great story! I need to make these, but that's what I always say when I read your blog. ;)

  8. I love your history involving unicorns and Dickens! These look like lovely little biccies and I'm definitely going to give them a go :)

  9. I love caraway and biscuits so these sound very pleasant! I also love anything with a history involving unicorns. Best history lesson ever.

  10. love your version of history and as it is on the internet it is true! never heard of these biscuits but I do love all the regional dishes of the UK - brilliant

  11. I grew up near Goosnargh, in a small village called Bilsborrow. Goosnargh Cakes were sold in in packets of 4 wrapped in wax paper, at our local post office. One package was with red print, the other blue; plain or with caraway seeds.(I don't recall the coriander option, but sounds good) They were about 1cm thick, much thicker than most of the recipes I have found on the internet of the same cake! I always loved them, so melt in the mouth:-) I just made them today but will takes some courage to make them so thick, up till now haven't managed! Next time I will:-)


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