It’s been a while since I did any baking, but I’ve given up milk in all things for lent (with slight exceptions for a few social events and a holiday because I need a social life and a trip away too much) and the main things I can’t get around are sweet things. I went to a cafe and missed out on cake! I am truly making sacrifices 🙂 There are some dairy free options in the supermarket but they’re primarily gluten free and often a little odd so I decided to take action – with dairy free spread instead of butter obviously.
I’ve posted about these type of biscuits before, they’re a really easy way to keep a stash of ready-to-cook deliciousness. I made the last large batch at the start of October and they were finally finished in mid-December. Also useful if there’s only one of you who would otherwise have to eat all of them within a few days or (the horror of it) share them. I last made some to this recipe, and recently discovered this recipe from A Beautiful Mess for a vanilla and thyme version. I used rosemary because in my kitchen it was that or Herbes de Provence… I also made a second batch with honeycomb pieces. They’re all delicious but this time I’m finding it much harder than I remember to slice the dough when the biscuit logs are straight out of the freezer. The recipes are very similar (and both taste really good) and the only difference I can see is that the second recipe contains slightly more butter – I don’t know enough about baking to know if it could make the difference. Much defrosting to soften it and I’m finding the dough becomes sticky and squishy. Once I’ve munched my way though this batch I’ll try the other recipe again for a comparison.
Slight issue with the honeycomb pieces – they caramelise and leave gooey holes in the biscuits, but also create toffee like patches so no complaints!
For the vanilla and rosemary version I used a mix of vanilla sugar, ground vanilla beans from a little pre-loaded grinder I have, and vanilla essence. All together it smells and tastes great! It’s not a flavour I’d have thought of but the delicate herbal taste is lovely and very moreish.
Any biscuits with hot chocolate is a great combination! Now I’m off to bake a few more…
So tomorrow is someone’s birthday, and in the strangely backwards unwritten rules of the office the birthday person should provide appropriate food. A couple of jobs back I worked somewhere with a cake club and there was a rota to make people’s birthday cakes, that was a fun system… But in current much better job (except for the occasional cake shortage) I must provide my own celebratory edibles, and the biscuits in the office vanish so fast at the moment people are refusing to buy more, so I will provide!
I found the Funfetti slice n’ bake cookies recipe a while ago, and it’s great for preparing in advance. Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction here. It’s possible to make up logs of dough and refrigerate or freeze them until you really fancy biscuits. My dough went a bit too sticky this time so the logs were hard to form and weren’t very round, but once frozen they’re easy to cut into slices and bake up fresh.
There’s a whole cup of sprinkles in these cookies! And I made some very chocolatey biscuits too. And I still have lots in the freezer waiting for my next desperate biscuit craving. Maybe I should take more into work, they’ll get eaten fast enough, but I fancy having some left for later too 🙂
Another recipe from my Mum’s old Good Housekeeping recipe book. A biscuit for any occasion but very suited to Christmas or celebrations. This is an easy recipe to adjust to any type of biscuit. Just substitute the spice for 50g fruit or lemon or cocoa or vanilla essence…
150g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
225g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Grease or line 2 large baking sheets and preheat oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
3. Add the egg yolk and beat well
4. Stir in the flour and spice to form a firm dough (add a splash of milk if the mix is a bit dry, or more flour if it’s too wet)
5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface or between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper to about 0.5cm thickness (thinner biscuits will be crunchier)
6. Cut out the biscuits to whatever shape you like best and put the biscuits on the baking sheets
7. Bake for about 15 minutes until starting to look golden
These biscuits have been very popular! Just enough spice and a good amount of crunch. Perfect for a snack or with tea or for giving as a gift 🙂
A festive recipe from my Mum’s ancient Good Housekeeping recipe book 🙂
Shortcrust pastry – I used a 500g block of ready made pastry
2 cooking apples – peeled and grated or thinly sliced
120ml mincemeat – but I used a whole jar…
1. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a greased 20cm pie dish. Trim the dish and keep the trimmings for the lattice
2. Cover the bottom of the dish with the apples and brush with lemon juice (this stops the apples going brown)
3. Spread the mincemeat over the apples – I just aimed for a good thin covering, the raisins expand when cooked
4. Use the left-over pastry in thin strips to create a lattice on top of the tart
5. Bake at 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F/ gas 6 for 30 minutes
It’s a surprisingly rich dessert. The mincemeat is definitely the dominant flavour, and the apple adds more in texture and sweetness than taste. Great served warm with maybe a little cream or ice cream.
Last night I wanted cake, but the temperature was suddenly arctic and who wants to go cake shopping then? So I made some basic cupcakes – 4 essential ingredients and half an hour later and I had enough cake for a whole weekend of unhealthy eating.
All you need is self-raising flour, sugar, eggs and butter.
1) Weigh the eggs to get the correct amounts for the other ingredients. A 2 egg cake will make about 12 fairy cakes.
2) Weigh out the same amount as the eggs in the flour, butter and sugar. It’s possible to use half as much sugar and still get pretty much the same cake.
3) Mix all the ingredients. Melt the butter if you want to make mixing easier. I think the traditional order is sugar and butter together, then the eggs and flour but I’m not sure what difference that makes about from not having everything loose in a bowl at once.
4) I added a small bars worth of melted chocolate for flavour, cocoa powder would work too for chocolate, or any flavouring or fruit bits or sprinkles or just vanilla essence – whatever you fancy and have in the cupboard!
5) Scoop the batter into cake cases or a greased cake tin. About half full seems to work well.
6) Bake for about 15 minutes at 200 degrees C until the cakes have risen, have lightly browned on top, and a knife poked into the cake comes out clean.
7) Eat as soon as they’re cool or decorate however you want. I used marshmallow Fluff ‘cos I have an icing sugar shortage 🙂 It’s basic and quick but results in fluffy, tasty cake!
I finally did some more baking. This time it was flapjack for a poetry evening I went to. It received a few compliments so I think it worked out OK 🙂 I used this recipe from BBC food for apricot and chocolate flapjack, but I ended up just using raisins instead. Continue reading
Lavender adds a subtle herbal flavour to baking, and goes really well with shortbread. It’s also a very simple biscuit to cook. I got this recipe from Country Wives here after a quick search, not a website aimed at me but the recipe works which is the only bit that matters!
175g softened unsalted butter
2 tbsp lavender – either buy culinary lavender or pick it yourself. If you take it from a plant, make sure it’s an edible variety and not sprayed with chemicals or anything.
100g caster sugar
225g plain flour
Lightly grease three large baking trays (or as many as you own, I only have 2 and have to bake in batches…), and pre-heat oven to 160C/Fan 140C/325F/Fan 275F/Gas 3.
Put the softened butter and the lavender into a mixing bowl and beat together (this will obtain the maximum flavour from the lavender).
Beat the caster sugar into the butter and lavender and then stir in the flour, bringing the mixture together with your hands and kneading lightly until smooth. If the dough is sticky add another sprinkle of flour, if it’s dry add a dash of water or milk.
The original recipe cut sausages of dough into disks, but I fancied different shapes. Roll out half the dough on a floured surface to 1/2cm to 1cm thick, and use a biscuit cutter (or convenient water glass, knife, shaped object…) to cut out as many biscuits as possible. Move the biscuits onto a baking tray with some space between them for the biscuits to spread. Do the same to the rest of the dough, then combine any left over and cut out a few last biscuits.
Bake for 15 to 20 mins, until the biscuits are pale golden brown at the edges. Move the biscuits onto a wire tray to cool.
Eat and enjoy! The biscuits will keep for a few days in tin or sealed box.
I have a wonderful friend who regularly invites me round for dinner. I haven’t got the space to return the invite, so I take pudding instead. Yesterday I wanted to make something a bit more summery for the warmer weather, so I made a lemon drizzle cake, something I used to make quite often. I used a basic recipe I found written out in my recipes folder, it’s been there a while so I’ve got no idea where is came from originally. The amounts are fairly small so it doesn’t make a large cake, but it was tasty 🙂
I decided quite last minute to make biscuits to share with the department on my last day. They weren’t perfect, but there was a lot of crunching going on and only a few left so I think they were a success. I was told I could leave more often, so someone enjoyed them anyway!
I did a quick search and found the recipe for ‘Perfect Ginger Nut Biscuits‘ – sounded good to me!