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Category: Baking

  1. Perfectly Plain - Biscuits from Homemade Memories

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    It would be fair to say that I love cook books. Some just make great reading. Others guarantee a tasty dinner (pretty much anything by Nigel Slater). When it comes to books about baking I want something special – something that makes it worth stepping away from guaranteed winners.

    I’d looked at Homemade Memories by Kate Doran when it first arrived in my local bookshop, and everything about it appealed to me.How can you fail to love a book with a recipe for homemade jaffa cakes? I’m planning a batch with a campari and blood orange jelly.

    homemade memories

    So it came home, I spent a lovely afternoon reading and plotting.

    Then I made wholemeal digestive biscuits.

    biscuits

    This is batch 2. Batch 1 only lasted long enough for a quick instagram snap.

    I made a couple of very minor changes to Kate’s recipe. I swapped the sugar for coconut sugar, just to see how it would work. Instead of rolling the dough out I shaped it into a log before chilling it, then cut slices.

    The results are completely delicious – and lend themselves to some enhancement too. I think these would be amazing with some ginger – or without the sugar and with some cheese instead. I’d say these are a cross between a digestive and a hob-nob. They have a wonderfully short texture, but they’re not so fragile that they crumble when you pick them up.

    It’s almost time for batch 3 so we have biscuits for the biscuit tin at work.

    Happy baking.

  2. Peanut Biscuits

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    In the last month or so I’ve applied for the two main shows that we’ll be doing (fingers crossed) this year – Fibre East and Yarndale. We’re still debating the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. It’s very local, but it’s late enough in the year that we’ll already thinking 2016.

    There’s always a lot to do to get ready for shows and I’m very guilty of underestimating how long things will take to do and having a few very late nights. I have got better though, and one of the things I make sure I do is to have some time to putter about in the kitchen before we go. It’s a chance to relax a little and to give my brain time to remember anything essential that’s been forgotten.

    Even though space in the car can be tight (there are moments when I do think that trying to cram a stall into a Fiesta is not the best plan ever) there’s always space for a tin of biscuits – and for the last few shows I’ve been making peanut biscuits. They’re perfect for shows. They don’t melt. They’re not especially crumbly. They work beautifully with dairy free spread and gluten free flour so most people can eat them. It’s very obvious that they contain peanuts, so no one with a peanut allergy is going to tuck in by mistake.

    photo

    These biscuits are absolutely foolproof. The recipe comes from one of my favourite cookbooks – Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard. I love this book partly for the fantastic recipes and partly because Dan explains what ingredients do. There’s also information on what you can change and what rules you need to follow.

    I’ve changed the recipe a little – the original uses wholemeal or spelt flour and some bicarb of soda. I tried using self raising flour when I realised I’d used the last of our bicarb for something else and I preferred the result. We usually have wholemeal self raising flour but white will work too.

    I’ve doubled the quantity given in the recipe as these keep really well – and because we tend to get through lots of biscuits at shows.

    This should make about 60 – 80 biscuits.

    400g crunchy peanut butter

    250g butter (or dairy free spread)

    300g caster sugar

    350g muscovado sugar (or soft brown sugar if that’s what you have)

    2 teaspoons vanilla essence

    2 medium eggs

    200g self raising flour. Wholemeal self raising flour is even better if you happen to have any.

    200g rolled oats

    250g salted peanuts, roughly chopped- I don’t rinse the salt off as I like the sweet and salty contrast, but the original recipe suggests removing most of the salt.

    Method

    Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C, 150 degrees fan, gas mark 3

    Line a couple of baking sheets with non stick baking paper.

    Beat the peanut butter,  butter, sugars, vanilla essence and eggs until creamy and well combined. Beat in the flour, then the oats and finally the peanuts.

    The original recipe suggests unshelled walnut size balls of dough – I tend to make these a little smaller.

    Place balls of biscuit dough on the baking sheets, allowing 3 cm between each biscuit as the dough will spread. Bake for 13-15 minutes (original recipe says 20 minutes) until lightly coloured on the top. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling tray.

    If you’re not making these to take somewhere where sticky fingers are less than desirable they work beautifully with 250g of dark chocolate chunks in place of the salted peanut