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Norfolk Dried Biffins


Whole apples of the red 'Beefing' variety, very slowly part-dried in the oven under weights to flatten them, on layers of straw to absorb moisture. Served cored with the tough-baked skin removed, rolled in sugar and accompanied with cream.

They were once a winter treat on London markets. Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol' has; "Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner".

Image: via Nigel Boldero

Original Receipt from 'Modern Cookery for Private Families' by Eliza Acton (Acton 1845);

The Norfolk biffin is a hard and very red apple, the flesh of the true kind being partially red as well as the skin. It is most excellent when carefully dried; and much finer we should say when left more juicy and but partly flattened, than it is when prepared for Bale. Wipe the apples, arrange them an inch or two apart, and place them in a very gentle oven until they become so much softened as to yield easily to sufficient pressure to give them the form of small cakes of less than an inch thick. They must be set several times into the oven to produce this effect, as they must be gradually flattened, and must not be allowed to burst: a cool brick oven is best suited to them.

Morning Post - Tuesday 4 January 1820

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