Bristol Easter Biscuit Recipe

10 oz plain flour

7 oz butter

5 oz castor sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)

2 oz currants

1 or 2 egg yolks

6 – 8 drops oil of Cassia

Mix all of the ingredients together adding a little milk if too dry.  Roll out to about  ⅜”/1 cm thick and cut with a fluted cutter.

Bake at 160˚C (conventional oven) for 10-15 minutes, until very lightly browned.  Sprinkle with caster sugar as soon as you remove the biscuits from the oven, then cool on a rack.

Notes

The original recipe said 6 drops of oil of cassia, my mother-in-law has now increased this to 8, but do count the drops carefully as too strong a flavour of cassia ruins the biscuits.

Likewise, according to my husband, the biscuits are RUINED if they are cooked for too long.  According to him, they should retain some substance in the middle and not be too biscuity.  He does have some technical description of the degree of resistance to snapping the biscuits should have, but it is a bit too complicated to explain – let’s just say they shouldn’t snap too easily!

You can read more about the origins of this recipe here

 

43 thoughts on “Bristol Easter Biscuit Recipe

  1. …and very nice they are too. Agree that only 7 drops of Cassia needed and we baked at 150 in a microwave combi for 13 mins.

  2. Thank you so much for this recipe Suzanne. I have such fond memories of my mother making these every Easter from the 1950s to the late 90s. We lived just north of Bristol. For some reason they came into my mind this year and I found your recipe. Delicious!

      1. Today 17th Jan:2015. I Bought Oil of Cassia at County Stores Taunton, Somerset; My mum baked every year for all her family right up to 2007. Really missed her baking, so found her recipe, much the same as above; hope mine will be as good as her`s were. baked right from the early 40`s to 2007. Thank you for your recipe. Can`t wait to get baking. Sheila, Bridgwater.

  3. My mother in law’s recipe which has passed down through her family also has custard powder in it

  4. I moved away from Somerset about 35 years ago – and I have been trying to tell people about the flavour in Easter biscuits and NO ONE has been able to help me. Finally I know what it is.

    What a joy after all these years. I have a friend called Sally Lunn (Bath)- now that makes me giggle. I have left Somerset but I still have Somerset in my bones.

  5. Thanks so much for the recipe. My Somerset born and bred mother-in-law made these delicious biscuits every year. I searched for the recipe but couldn’t find it at first as most recipes use cinnamon which doesn’t taste the same. DELICIOUS! 7 drops of oil are plenty.

  6. My lovely mum always made these biscuits at Easter but never used a recipe that I could find. I have tried all different recipes using mixed spice, cinnamon Tec., but I always remember the oil of caddis bottle in the cupboard (part of my inheritance!) just couldn’t find the recipe. Thank you so much for reminding me of my childhood and for making my husband a very happy man as this was my mums legacy to him!!!!

  7. This recipe or very similar was used for years by my Aunt Olive and she would make a huge amount to be wrapped in threes and sold to raise money for her church….in BRISTOL. so I wonder at the origin of the name given!
    Happy Easter!

    Howard

  8. This is far the best recipe I’ve found. As the shop bought Easter biscuits are changing their recipe and not including chassis oil. We made loads last year and now preparing for a marathon bake. With our new family secret recipe :) we found 8 drops in this amount was fab for us, and no definitely don’t cook them to much at all xxxx thank you xx

  9. If you live in or near London, Brixton Wholefoods has cassia oil – the only place in London I’ve found that does.

  10. I was given this EXACT recipe when I came to Bristol from Scotland nearly 50 years ago. The only difference was that I was told to lightly beat the egg whites and fold them in. No idea whether it makes any difference but my family have always loved them. used to buy oil of cassia locally but struggling this year so sadly will have to resort to the internet.

  11. I to have always used Oil of Cassia in my Easter Biscuits I use my mums recipe from the 1930 that she got from the chemist that defiantly have a distinctive taste. My daughter couldn’t wait to come home from Uni and have some as they didn’t know what she was talking about in Loughborough, who knew it was such a regional thing. We should have a Appellation d’origine Controlee like Cheddar, Cornish Pasty and Champagne. LLoyds the chemist is where I source my oil or Boots.

    1. Greetings from Keynsham! Boots still sell cassia oil and i currently have a batch of Easter biscuits in the oven making my house smell delicious!

  12. I am so excited to find this recipe. I kept many of my mother’s recipes, some committed to memory, but this one I lost. I have found some oil of cassia on Amazon so I am hoping it is the genuine thing. I came from Midsomer Norton in Somerset and the aroma of the baking of Easter biscuits infused with oil of cassia was as much a part of the celebration of Easter as hot cross buns. Looking forward to passing this on to my own grown up family now.

  13. Love these, missed them when I moved from Somerset. My great, grandad was a baker and used to make these every year but died never telling anyone how he made them, so happy to have found this recipe though. I have worked out what spices my grandad used but I definitely prefer the oil. My go to every single year now and I always make them for work colleagues. This year I am sending my team some as we are all at home during coronavirus.

    1. Fantastic, I’m so pleased to think that these unique Bristol Easter Cakes will be cheering people up as they work at home during Coronavirus. I hope they enjoy them.

  14. Where can I buy cassia oil please? I now live near Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset and have always wanted to make Easter Biscuits using cassia oil. I am a bit dubious about buying it online as concerned it’s not the right thing. I tried the link mentioned but it doesn’t work. Many thanks 😊

    1. Dear Yvette,
      Several people have reported buying cassia oil in Boots and searching online a Health Food shop called Kyffins in Burnham on Sea is another possibility. It is probably too late now to buy online, although I wouldn’t be afraid to use this option in future. Finally The Good Earth in Wells definitely sells it, so you could ring them to see whether they could send you any. 01749 678600.
      Good Luck,
      Suzanne

      1. Thankyou Suzanne – that’s fabulous. I have left it too late now I think but I will definitely try the places you recommended – thanks so much. Happy Easter xx

  15. I learnt how to make Easter Cakes from my mother in law from Radstock, we think the recipe came from her mother in law, whose husband worked in the Co-op bakery at Radstock. The mixture could be very sticky because of the high proportion of butter so they are best chilled in the fridge before rolling out.
    We now live in the Midlands buy my husband always makes several batches to her recipe. They have to be ‘ melt in the mouth’, not biscuity, and are bigger round than most biscuits 9.5 cm diameter, rolled to the thickness of the currant.
    We bough the last bottle of oil of cassia from Clements Chemist in Radstock, supplied by Toppfit in Weston Super Mare.

  16. I had these Easter ‘cakes’ as they are called when I was a child living in Bath. We had a baker deliver these and warm hot cross buns on Good Friday from Twerton Village. Their surname was Baker (and I think the family are still baking there now). Their Easter Cakes are slightly yellow in colour, quite large and really delicious – don’t bother with other shop-bought ones though they taste nothing like the real thing. I now live in Lincolnshire so I have to make my own. My grandchildren especially my grandson loves Granny’s Easter cakes!

  17. We tried your Bristol Easter biscuit recipe but when done in a fan assisted oven still not going brown after 25 minutes?.
    Does it make any difference on how high the shelf is?.
    Is the time of 10 -15 mins long enough?.
    We made some more and put them in a conventional oven on 160c.
    Been in 10 minutes and no where near done.
    Nothing wrong with the oven as it makes cakes perfectly.
    Do you have any theories?.

    1. I wonder whether you might be expecting them to be more brown than they should be? The colouration should be quite pale. It is really much easier to overbake than underbake these biscuits, so perhaps try them after 15 minutes. You will note John Rostron’s comment above which says that 13 minutes at 150C was sufficient in a microwave combi oven, so I would be very surprised if they took more than 20 minutes at 160C no matter what shelf they are on. Let me know how you get on.
      Suzanne

    2. They shouldn’t be named to brown. They turn out a pale lemon colour and are meant to be a soft “giving” bite – never a crunchy biscuit. Hope this helps!

  18. I grew up in Yate and remember mum buying lovely big Easter biscuits. We now live on the Isle of Wight and now that I’ve found your recipe I will be introducing my children and grandchildren to these lovely biscuits, although will probably have to make do with mixed spice this year.

    1. I’m glad to have reunited you with these biscuits Heather, and hope your family enjoy them. You can, buy the way, definitely buy Oil of Cassia online, so there is still time to obtain some for this year.

  19. I found this recipe after talking to my daughter about making Easter biscuits with my mother as a child in Bristol 55 years ago. I couldn’t remember the name of the secret ingredient! I had no idea it was a west country recipe. I’ve bought cassia oil online and am about to make some and send to my brother in Keynsham as an Easter surprise!

      1. I haven’t heard from him yet, but my daughter and friends, both in Lancashire where I now live, all loved them. And for me it literally was a taste of my childhood! Thank you!

  20. these were the first thing I ever cooked. It was in school in my infant class in Somerset. So glad to be able to bake them again as without the Cassia oil they are just not the same!

  21. I lived in Bristol for 30 years and always had Easter biscuits with Cassia as a kid.
    I emigrated to Australia & was disappointed with Easter biscuits with no Cassia!! just not the same.
    Glad I have found this recipe, so I can show my daughter & my Aussie mates what real Easter biscuits should taste like 😀

  22. I am just about to bake some of these biscuits for my Dad. I managed to buy some cassia oil on line, I have lovely memories of my Mum baking Easter biscuits and remember the oil at the back of the cupboard! Quite bizarrely I am in Keynsham right now, back supporting my Dad, and went into keynsham Boots earlier today! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  23. Best Easter Biscuits recipe I have found – thank you. Wish I could say they were like the ones my grandmother (Avon born and bred) made – but they aren’t … taste exactly the same but are a much nicer texture – hers were too hard :-)
    Have already shared with my Mum and sister in New Zealand – this will definitely become the new family traditional recipe.

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