Saturday, 5 May 2012

Not Joined Up Thought Leads To Biscuits

I have felt miserable all day long.  I know why, yesterday wasn't brilliant and I am talking myself round.  I have been browsing a few baking books, looking for a suitable thing to bake today.  I was going to bake banana ginger parkin.  I even bought the bananas for it.  Since I saw the recipe and found that the difference between parkin and gingerbread (the spongey sort, not the biscuit type) was mainly oats - parkin has the oats, I have had this thought in my head.  Just kinda floating around when I think of baking.  So when I donned the pinny, and looked at what ingredients I needed, then and only then did I achieve joined up thinking and realise that I need oats for the parkin.  I didn't have any.  Only an hour before this, Mum had gone shopping and asked if I wanted anything.  Oats popped into my head, but I dismissed it as I didn't know what oats I needed and thought I would pick them myself.  I am conspiring against myself not to make this parkin at the moment.  Perhaps when I do make it, it will go one of two ways - it will either turn out to be really pants or be one of the best things I've ever made.  Guess I will have to wait until I get the oats!!  And joined up thinking........

I did do some baking, however.  Yes it was therapeutic baking.  I had been looking for a simple biscuit recipe, so that Mary-Jane and I could sit together and decorate them.  I had a particular type of biscuit in my head, so I knew I what I was looking for, when I found it.  I didn't find the exact recipe, but came very close.  Successfully close in fact!  The biscuits are on the 'Re-Bake' list.  It seems like forever since I baked biscuits.  They take so little time to make and bake, that I strongly feel that I should bake them alot more often.  In fact I found another recipe that is close to the first that I want to try.  I was going to do both.  When I had finished the first batch, there was just over 30 biscuits, so I thought there was not much point making any more at the moment.

I used a star shaped cutter and a heart shaped cutter.  I wanted to use shapes that MJ recognises.  I did pick out seven shapes, but I thought she may want to try one of every shape in one sitting, so narrowed it down.  The recipe is:

Chocolate Biscuits

Makes 20 - 30+ depending on cutter size

225g/ 8oz self raising flour
100g/ 4oz caster sugar
3x15ml spoon sieved cocoa powder
100g/4oz marg
5x15ml spoon of milk
few drops vanilla essence

  1. Heat the oven to 190c, 375f, gm5.  Grease two baking trays
  2. Mix flour sugar and cocoa, then rub in marg
  3. Add milk and vanilla essence.  Bring together with your hands and knead lightly on a floured surface
  4. Roll out to 1/4", cut using a 3" cutter.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on wire rack
  5. Decorate how you want, chocolate glace icing is recommended.

Almond Biscuits

Makes 20 (although I've not tried the recipe out yet)

175g/6oz self raising flour
pinch salt
75g/3oz caster sugar
50g/2oz ground almonds
150g/5oz marg
few drops almond essence
blanched almonds

  1. Heat oven to 180c, 350f, gm4.  Grease two trays
  2. Mix together dry ingredients, rub in marg
  3. Add the essence and mix well, bringing together with your hands
  4. Roll out thinly and cut into rounds.  Place half a blanched almond on each
  5. Bake for  15 mins.  Cool on wire rack

Custard Creams

Makes 17 - 18 completed biscuits

170g/6oz block marg
50g/2oz caster sugar
200g/7oz self raising flour
30g/1oz custard powder
  1. Heat oven to 180c, 350f, gm4.  Grease baking tray
  2. Cream together marg and sugar
  3. Add the flour and custard powder, mix well
  4. Roll into small balls, about the size of a walnut, dip one side into the caster sugar
  5. Place on baking tray, sugar side up.  Press a fork once across each biscuit
  6. Bake for approx 25 mins, until lightly coloured
  7. When cold, sandwich together with butter icing

I also want to try the custard creams, with a view to producing some for the Market.  Anything new I do for the Market, I want to give a trial run.

I liked the chocolate biscuits.  HK said he liked them quite a lot - I forgot at the time that he can be a biscuit fiend.  If we have a tin of biccies, he will have 'one or two', which translates as having one of each sort on each layer.......  Mary-Jane enjoyed her - she kept saying mmmmmm nice and giving me the the most massive of grins.  Must have hit on a good recipe!


Unknown said...

sounds good!

I'd like to give the custard creams a try too. There's a shop nearby that has a small UK foods section, and they sell custard powder. Just remind me next time I need to go there to get PG Tips, okay? :)

And this may seem a dumb question, but what kind of oats do you use for baking? Here, oats are available "steel cut" (usually sold as Scot or Irish style), and the oats are rice grain shaped and take about 30 minutes to cook into a porridge. More common are "rolled oats", which are partially cooked oats rolled flat and cook into porridge in about 5 minutes. This is the type that is usually used for baked goods here in the US. I think both styles of oats can be used in baked goods but I don't think they can be interchanged without modifying the liquid amounts in the recipe.

CarpeDyem said...

Do you not have custard powder in your normal supermarkets? The oats I usually use for baking are the rolled oats, generally medium, or small.

Don't forget the PG! It's the taste! Do you know the piano's on my foot? You hum it son and I'll play it! Sorry, that always comes inot my head when I think of PG Tips - it was a massive advertising campaign years ago - did you have it? There was lots of ads with the 'pg tips monkeys'

Unknown said...

Another question regarding the biscuits...the almond biscuit recipe calls for crushed almonds. Does this mean almond paste, like marzipan, or just almonds chopped very finely?

USians aren't really black tea drinkers, unless it's iced tea. Although bagged tea is available in regular supermarkets, it's really terrible (my opinion). More common are flavored teas or herbal teas. It's possible to find exquisite teas here in the US but I was searching for a good everyday tea, so I bought a package of PG Tips to try it out, figuring that an everyday UK tea is much much better than an everyday US tea. And it is! However, the PG Tips Green Tea? Foul, foul, foul, foul.

CarpeDyem said...

Ground almonds - alomst like a powder, finer than chopped. Not a paste like marzipan, nearly like a flour

Unknown said...

Okay, another question about custard powder. What I can find here is Bird's Custard Powder, the type you need to add sugar and milk to. Will that work?

The prepackaged dessert puddings and custards here already have sugar in them so I don't think they are interchangeable with the Bird's Custard Powder. (I don't really know the difference between pudding and custard--they are both made with eggs, milk/cream, and sugar. I think puddings are cooked on the stove while a custard is baked. OF course, I think most people just make the stuff from a box.)

Speaking of custard...I remember the first time I made custard. My mother made it a lot when I was a kid (it was my brother's favorite dessert). One day I decided to try. It was the boxed stuff so I followed the directions. Added the milk, mixed it well, poured it into the special dessert glasses. My mother always topped it with a red brown spice so I did that to. And during dessert that evening, I learned the difference between nutmeg and paprika.

CarpeDyem said...

I'd stick with Birds Custarrd Powder for this recipe - it will be exactly the stuff I shall be using! I think there can be confusion with the different types of custard. Nutmeg and paprika - mad me smile!