Biscuit Week

Now…which of the three GBBO biscuit challenges did I attempt this weekend? Was it the playable biscuit board game, sandwich biscuits or the technically challenging fortune cookies? As much as I wanted to make an edible snakes and ladders, it was the slightly easier sandwich biscuits that took my fancy.

A number of biscuits came to mind like empire biscuits and custard creams but I’also made these before. I wanted to try a new bake and had a look through my biscuit cookbook by the GBBO iced biscuit queen, Miranda Gore Brown. One recipe that took my fancy was for bourbon biscuits. A biscuit tin favourite and something I remember from when I was younger and I used to raid my Grandma’s biscuit tin. But Mr W doesn’t like them (shocking considering how much he loves chocolate) and my mum won’t eat them so will need to be saved for a bake for work weekend.

Then I came across a recipe for lemon and poppy seed polenta biscuits. I’ve never seen the lemon and poppy seed combo as a biscuit before and have always wanted to try making lemon and poppy seed muffins (as they sound yummy). I also liked the idea of the cream cheese filling to sandwich them together instead of the typical buttercream filling you find with most sandwich biscuits.

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I spread the making of these over two days. Friday night I made the actual biscuits which was simpler than most as the ingredients can go straight in the food processor. When dividing the biscuits, make sure you make an even number that are roughly the same size as they will be sandwiched together. Be warned, you do need to make some room in the fridge as the biscuits need to be chilled for at least 30 minutes whilst on the baking trays. So, unless you have a super large fridge, maybe wait until the day before you do your food shop 🙂 Once baked, I left them to cool overnight so that I could be certain they wouldn’t melt the filling. On the Saturday morning I whipped up the cream cheese filling and sandwiched the biscuits together. Before starting this, make sure you pair up your biscuits so that you are sandwiching similar sized biscuits together. Nothing worse than being left with two biscuit sized extremes. Once made I’ve kept in the fridge as I don’t want the cream cheese filling to go off. I then let it come to room temperature before eating.

So….polenta in a biscuit. First time I’ve had one to be honest. I found that the texture and taste reminded me slightly of cornbread but with the zesty lemon coming through. They are quite substantial biscuit so you won’t be eating more than one at a time. In total I managed to make 10 sandwiched biscuits. If I was to make them again, I would consider making them smaller so that they are a bit easier to eat. The use of polenta and rice or spelt flour make these a gluten free bake.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Polenta Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 175g caster sugar
  • 20g quick-cook polenta
  • 100g rice or spelt flour (I used Spelt)
  • 170g unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • zest of two lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 20g poppy seeds

For the filling

  • 200g full fat cream cheese
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 2tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. Put sugar, polenta and flour into a food processor and whizz well. Add the butter and lemon zest and whizz until it resembles small breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the poppy seeds over the mixture. Beat the eggs and vanilla extract together. Add the eggs to the food processor and mix to get a wet, sticky dough.
  2. Line some baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Using a small ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, place walnut sized balls of dough on the tray and keep them at least 5cm apart. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C and bake the chilled biscuits for 10-12 minutes (until golden and firm to the touch). Leave to firm on the tray for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. Put all the filling ingredients into a bowl and beat together until light and creamy. Add a little more lemon juice if the mixture us to dry. When the biscuits are completely cold, spread a layer of filling onto the base of one biscuit and gently press a similar sized biscuit on top.
Recipe taken from Biscuits by Miranda Gore Browne
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Rocky Road

Last Friday saw the UK raising money for Red Nose Day. At my work, we have one charity that we raise money for each year so nothing was organised to raise money for Red Nose Day. My dad, however, was involved in a number of events to raise money for this cause. First, he works in a call centre which was being used to take calls from members of the public wanting to make donations. Secondly, he was getting his head shaved to raise money. When he was younger, my dad used to have long hair and as he has gotten older he’s kept it short but has never dared to get rid of it completely. Why would he? He hasn’t started to lose any yet and it is still it’s natural colour (no grey appearing yet). Good on him for going through with it but now he’s worried it won’t grow back. Thirdly, charity bake sale. Cue him asking me (very nicely) if I’d do some baking for him. He re-requested some triple chocolate cookies that I baked for his team last month, which I did bake for him. But the week before, I found out that maltesers were promising to donate £5 for every photo that was posted on the Facebook page showing a Red Nose Day charity bake using maltesers. Now, that wasn’t a challenge I was going to ignore. So, it got me thinking about what I could make. Crush some maltesers and mix them into the cookie mix instead of chocolate chips? Nope, his team were looking forward to the original cookie recipe. Make some malteser cupcakes? Nope, last time I was involved in a cake sale, the cupcakes were still there until the end. Make a malteser cake? Nope, my dad would only worry about cutting it into pieces.

Rocky road….chocolate….biscuits….marshmallows….maltesers…winner!!!

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A bonus about rocky road is that it is simple to make and can be made in advance. No manic baking the day before trying to get everything ready for me to to take round to my dad. So, as mentioned above, my recipe only consists of four ingredients, yes, FOUR!! Everyone has an opinion on what should be in rocky road. Dried fruit, cherries, nuts, marshmallows, certain type of biscuit, certain type of chocolate, dusted with icing sugar….The list is endless. For me, I like to keep it simple. Adding too much can mean fewer people will buy it. With this recipe you can interchange the type of biscuit used (shortbread, shortcake, cookies, rich tea, digestives, oreo) or put in your favourite chocolate bar (crunchie, double decker, mars bar, milky way). But if you want to re-create my version, follow the below recipe.

  • 450g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 150g ginger biscuits, broken into 1cm chunks
  • 100g mini marshmallows
  • 80g maltesers

Line the base and sides of a 7×9 inch cake tin with baking parchment. Place the milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot water. Bring the water to the boil, then take the pan off the heat and allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool slightly. If the chocolate is too hot the marshmallows will melt. Stir in the biscuits, mini marshmallows and maltesers and then press into the cake tin. Place in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours or until set. Cut into 12 pieces.

I use basic own brand chocolate as I feel it is not as sickly as the brand and balances well with the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients.

I’ve made this before where I have used one third plain chocolate and two thirds milk chocolate which gives it a bit of bitterness.

I melted 50g white chocolate and drizzled over the top once it had set to add some contrast.

Mr W managed to sneak a piece before it went and loved it. I was worried the ginger biscuits might overpower but he felt they worked well. Feedback from my dad’s work has been good and some have wanted the recipe. Here you go 🙂

Biscuit Week

One of my favourite television programmes returned to our screens two weeks ago….The Great British Bake Off!!!! Who would have thought that watching 12 amateur bakers battling it out each week would be so popular. I think having Mel and Sue presenting the show makes it even more enjoyable. The start of this years series coincided with Mr W’s birthday which meant I had even more reason to bake. I’d decided to bake Mr W one of his favourite biscuits, Empire Biscuits. Now, I’d never hear of these delectable treats before I met Mr W. They seem to be more popular in Scotland than in England. I guess you could call them a fancy jammie dodger. It wasn’t until the night before the first episode did Mr W point out that it was cake week. And it wasn’t until the end of the show did I find out that it was biscuit next and I was a whole week early with my bake. Never mind. I did do an experimental ginger and lime drizzle cake to make up for it. Although it tasted great, it had more of a syrup topping rather than a drizzle. I was also disappointed with the rise of the cake (more of a traybake than a loaf cake) and refused to take pictures. To make up for it, I made some more biscuits which turned out a lot better. These were a request from someone at work. She wanted the biscuits she used to have at school that had jam in the middle…thumbprint biscuits.

To be fair, these two biscuits weren’t the most technical of bakes but they were very much enjoyed. Although I didn’t get to try the thumbprint biscuits, they met my colleagues criteria which was a hit.

Empire Biscuits

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After a bit of googling, I managed to find a recipe by a previous GBBO contestant (James Morton) that looked like the biscuits Mr W wanted. The recipe has very few ingredients and is extremely easy to make. The only adaptation I made was the halving of the recipe. I followed the suggestion of using some cornflour which gives it a lovely crumbly texture. I also rolled the dough as thinly as possible so that when the biscuits are sandwiched together, the ratio of biscuit to jam to biscuit is as close to the same as possible. Click here for his recipe.

Thumbprint Biscuits

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There were a number of variations of this recipe online. I knew what biscuit my colleague wanted. I managed to buy one a couple of years ago at a food fair and it brought back those school memories. It’s funny how as a child, school dinners were awful but when you think back on them, they weren’t as bad as you thought. The biscuit needs to be crumbly with a good dollop of jam (preferably strawberry) in the middle.  BBC Good Food had just the recipe I needed. Again, it uses very few ingredients and is very easy to make. It is also a quick recipe if you have a food processor as it can do all the work for you. Click here for recipe.

Tomorrow it’s bread week….

 

Orange Cream Biscuits

A couple of months ago I made my first attempt at home made custard creams. Mr W’s initial impression on seeing these ‘well they don’t look like custard creams’. Of course they didn’t look like your standard custard cream that comes out of the packet. I wasn’t going to stand there etching the words onto each side and putting in little holes. But the taste was better than a custard cream. They were a hit at work but not such a hit with Mr W. On trying them, his feedback was ‘would be better if it was an orange cream’. Well, today’s the day I took on this challenge.

So, last week I did a little research on orange cream biscuit recipes. Some used orange zest in the cream filling, others also used orange zest in the biscuit itself. From my experience with orange cream biscuits (only tried them once as prefer your normal custard cream) I knew that they didn’t have zest in the filling. I asked Mr W if the biscuit was flavoured, which it isn’t. So, I decided to adapt the custard cream recipe that I used originally (from my Biscuit cookbook by Miranda Gore Browne). I added orange water and orange food colouring to the filling to try and replicate the flavour/look that Mr W was wanting.

Custard creams aren’t as difficult to make as I thought. The hardest part is trying to pair up the biscuits ready for sandwiching together. Mr W has just tried the tasting sample from the batch I made this afternoon. He thinks that I’ve done well in trying to replicate it. There is an orange flavour coming through however it is not as intense as the shop bought variety (though when he thought about it, he concluded that their flavour was more artificial). However, I have lost this round as he prefers the shop bought. He did point out that it was my first attempt and it was one of his favourite biscuits I was trying to copy. Below is my adaptation of the recipe.


Orange Cream Biscuits

Orange Cream Biscuits

Makes about 12

60g icing sugar

170g softened unsalted butter

175g self raising flour

60g custard powder

icing sugar for dusting

For the filling

50g softened unsalted butter

125g icing sugar, sifted

1 tbsp orange water

orange food colouring

  1. Preheat oven to 15oC and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Sift icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the butter until creamy. Sift in the flour and custard powder and mix until a dough forms. Place walnut-sized dollops of the dough on the baking trays, spacing at least 3cm apart. Roll into a ball and flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for about 15 minutes until they look yellow and dry, not golden brown. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. To make the orange cream, put the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and mix until creamy. Add the orange water and mix. Add more icing sugar if the filling is starting to look too wet (I found this happened). Add the orange food colouring, adding a little at a time and mixing in between each addition until you get the desired colour.
  4. Sandwich the biscuits together using a teaspoon of the orange filling. Leave a cm gap round the edge and press the biscuits together gently. Dust with icing sugar.