Posts Tagged ‘Biscuits’

Guest post: Biscotti, by Clarinda @Highland Diary

My OH’s Mum has very kindly agreed to guest-post on Interestingthymes again – her sourdough baps post last year has been very popular (and rightly so)!

This Biscotti recipe is based on Paul Hollywood’s recipe – and sounds lovely 🙂 My OH made a chocolate and hazelnut version quite recently, and I know from that batch that the texture and crispness are perfect, so I really recommend you try this recipe out!

Anyway, enough from me, and over to Clarinda – thanks for this awesome post!

BISCOTTI – Little Pieces of Italian Heaven

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I feel very honoured to have been asked by yuppiebaker to write another guest post for this exciting blogspot. It is not just because I am the SO’s mother that I find this site so stimulating, it is more because I know how busy these young folk are with work and life in general, but they still find time to cook and bake for themselves. An example to us all! I am a bit of an inveterate, blogger having two sites of my own – http://www.happiness-by-design.com and http://www.highlanddiary.co.uk and I enjoy writing for both of them, but this week I have abandoned them so that I can write this post which is on the subject of Biscotti – those deliciously crunchy Italian biscuits.

 

I had never made Biscotti before, but I had recently bought Paul Hollywood’s excellent book on baking and the recipe in the book looked fairly straight forward. Of course, when I looked in the cupboard, I had very few of the ingredients mentioned recommended in the recipe! – but I also thought that it didn’t really matter what the added fruit and nuts were as there must be as many recipes for Biscotti as there were ever cooks to bake them! Paul had made three sorts: pistachio and cranberry, hazelnut and dates and chocolate, almond and orange. I only had enough flavourings for two varieties, but found that dividing the dough into two made life easier – so no regrets! The biscuits looked perfect when finished, were not difficult to do and were much enjoyed by Himself and the ladies of my spinning group. Here is what I did:-

 

 

Start by making the base dough:-

 

250g plain white flour

½ tsp baking powder

250g caster sugar

2-3 medium eggs, beaten

 

Heat the oven to 140° for a fan oven or 160° for conventional. Paul recommends a conventional setting for these biscuits, but I found that they worked fine in our fan oven.

 

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar together in a bowl. Stir in the beaten eggs, a little at a time, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Continue until you have a firm dough; it may not be necessary to add all of the egg. The dough shouldn’t be at all sticky. Kneed it a wee bit and divide it into two (or three) if you intend to make different sorts.

 

Now it’s time to add your chosen flavouring and really there is little necessity to be too careful about weighing these ingredients out. I used roughly 60 gm cranberries and 110 gm almonds for one half chopping them up into reasonably small pieces, and a tablespoon or so of cocoa powder, 25 gm chocolate chips and 60-65 gm chopped walnuts for the other half, but really you can use what you like.

 

Work these ingredients gently into the halves of dough and turn them out onto a floured surface. Roll each piece into a long log, roughly 2 ins in diameter. Place both logs on the lined baking tray, spacing them apart as the mixture will spread a bit. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

Leave the logs to cool on the tray for 10 minutes to allow the dough to firm up slightly, then transfer to a board. Cut the logs, on an artistic diagonal, into slices approx 2 ins thick.

 

Place the slices, cut side up, back on the lined baking tray. Return to the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the biscotti are dry through to the centre, turning them over halfway through. Have faith that they wont burn! Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. They keep well in an airtight container. ENJOY…

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Autumn again…; Orange Spiced Molasses Cookies (wheat and dairy free)

Cycling back from work this week I caught a scent on the breeze – bonfire smoke – a scent indicative of only one thing; Autumn is here. The air is crisp in the morning, it’s getting dark before 9pm, the woollen clothes which have been safely stored away for the summer now call out seductively from under the bed. On the one hand I’m sad; we’ve barely had a summer here this year, and I’m not ready for it to be over yet. But on the other hand I love Autumn; it is the harvest season, full of promise and the rewards. The particular blue of sky, the turning leaves, the drawing in of the nights is comforting and familiar. A wonderful variety of fruit and foragable goodies becomes available, and once again we can indulge in a bit of stodgy cold-weather food (I’ve already brought the slow cooker out from it’s summer retreat)! Autumn draws me to rich flavours and warm tones: stewed apple, cinnamon, ginger, treacle. And I recently came across the perfect Autumn biscuit: Orange Spiced Molasses Cookies 

They worked out very well, but in future I would add a bit of apple brandy too, or rum, and possibly a bit more apple sauce.

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Makes ~40

INGREDIENTS

ROLLING SUGAR

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

COOKIE DOUGH

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 5 tablespoons butter alternative, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup light or dark molasses (I used treacle since it’s easier to get in the UK)
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups wheat-free flour mix

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  2. To prepare the rolling sugar: Pulse 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest in a food processor until well combined. Place in a shallow dish and set aside.
  3. To prepare cookie dough: Grind oats in a blender until they look like a fine powder, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
  4. Beat butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest and beat another 2 minutes. Add molasses, applesauce, egg yolk, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt; beat on medium-high until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
  5. Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the ground oats. Scrape down the bowl; with the mixer on medium, slowly add whole-wheat flour. (The dough will be moderately sticky.)
  6. Using a slightly rounded tablespoon of dough, roll into balls, then roll in the rolling sugar to coat. (If necessary, wet your fingers to help roll without sticking.) The zest will make the mixture slightly wet and it will clump; lightly brush off the excess so that just a thin coat is on the cookie. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake the cookies in batches until the edges are set and the tops are cracked, but the centers are still soft and puffy, about 10 minutes.
  8. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 8 minutes. Serve warm or cool on a wire rack.

Techie thank-you biscuits: Chocolate and Apricot Kernel Cookies

A friend, the lovely Raf, recently performed a Lazerus upon my poor old laptop and coaxed it back to life – huzzah! It would seem that the laptop manufacturers, in their infinite wisdom, had decided to partition the model’s fairly small hard drive – and I (being a hideous technophobe) hadn’t realised this and assumed it was a RAM issue. Long story short, my laptop stuttered back into life and should totter on for a few more years.

So in return, as a thank you, I did what I am happiest doing; baked stuff! But again, I was suffering from a bare-cupboard-baking scenario. Hmmmmmmm. Oats, apricot kernels, a little bit of chocolate. Right.

But dear old Delia came to the rescue with her Chocolate Almond Crunchies recipe – which, as always, I bastardised with whatever I had in the cupboard.

Chocolate and Apricot Kernel Cookies

Ingredients
 2 oz (50 g) sweet milk chocolate
 1½ oz (40 g) Apricot Kernels
 4 oz (110 g) butter
 3 oz (75 g) demerara sugar
 1 dessertspoon golden syrup
 4 oz (110 g) self-raising flour
 pinch of salt

4 oz (110 g) porridge oats

Method

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) and grease two baking sheets measuring 14 x 11 inches (35 x 28 cm), lightly greased with groundnut or another flavourless oil.

First of all, using a sharp knife, chop the chocolate into small chunks about ÂĽ inch (5 mm) square.
Now put the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan, place it on the gentlest heat possible and let it all dissolve, which will take 2-3 minutes. When the butter mixture has dissolved, take it off the heat. Meanwhile, toast the apricot kernals in a dry pan until they start to brown – as you would for almonds.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour and salt and add the porridge oats and half the chocolate and kernels, then give this a quick mix before pouring in the butter mixture. Now, using a wooden spoon, stir and mix everything together, then switch from a spoon to your hands to bring everything together to form a dough. If it seems a bit dry, add a few drops of cold water.

Now take half the dough and divide it into nine lumps the size of a large walnut, then roll them into rounds using the flat of your hand. Place them on a worktop and press gently to flatten them out into rounds approximately 2½ inches (6 cm) in diameter, then scatter half the remaining chocolate and almonds on top of the biscuits, pressing them down lightly.

Once you have filled one tray (give them enough room to spread out during baking), bake them on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes while you prepare the second tray. When they’re all cooked, leave them to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

The bitterness of the apricot kernels contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the chocolate, and seemed to go down very well with the intended audience 🙂

Bare cupboard baking: Orange, Cardamom and Poppy Seed Biscuits

It would be fair to say that this week has been fairly full-on at work. It hasn’t been a case of long days, but each day has been manic. I’ve been getting home with no energy left and just wanting to go straight to bed. Yes, I know, moan moan moan! But on Thursday I had to motive myself to do something productive (and pleasant) with my evening, so a spot of baking seemed like a good option.

So what do I have in my cupboard? Ummm… not a lot…  But I had recently read a recipe for Lemon and Caraway Seed Cookies that I liked the sound of, but no Caraway seeds in the house.  But I do have an orange, and I do have poppy seeds (courtesy of my last Foodie Penpal package)… This could work…! Chuck in some cardamom and some mixed peel and we have a fully functioning biscuit recipe. Not only that, but they go really well with coffee!

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In the interests of my newly re-acquired will-power I made these on an evening where my OH has his friends over, and they seemed to go down well. And those I brought into the office today have gradually disappeared over the course of the day.

300g Plain Flour

Pinch salt

275g caster sugar

115g slightly salted butter

2 tbs orange juice

1 tbs orange zest

1 egg, beaten

2 tsp poppy seeds

Crushed seeds of 5 cardamom pods

Handful mixed peel

  1. Line a couple of baking sheets with baking parchment
  2. Sift flour into a large bowl and add salt. Rub the butter in until it reaches a breadcrumb texture. Stir in the sugar, juice, zest, poppy seeds, mixed peel and cardamom seeds.
  3. Add egg and mix until it reaches a soft dough.
  4. Roll out on a well floured surface and use a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass to cut to shape. Place on the baking trays with a reasonable amount of space between.
  5. (At this stage you can glaze them with an egg was, but I didn’t for mine. Then sprinkle with sugar)
  6. Bake at 170 c for 10 – 15 minutes.

Seasonally dysfunctional Baking

Warning: if you prefer your cooking to be seasonally appropriate, then this probably isn’t the post for you (come back in December!). But if you like heavily spiced biscuits at any time of the year, not just Christmas, then you’re ok – read on.

I’m off home to see the family this weekend – my maternal Aunts are visiting (one from London, the other from South Africa) so I thought I’d take a load of biscuits home for afternoon tea with my grandparents. Unfortunately the new job finishes later in the day than my old one, and combined with the bus journey home and any necessary shopping, I end up with little baking time in the evening – especially if I’ve failed to plan ahead. Fortunately, this recipe was actually a store-cupboard wonder and I didn’t need to buy too much specially.

German Pepper Nut Cookies

Pfeffernusse

This is adapted from an American recipe, but I’ve translated quantities into metric.

325g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp crushed aniseed

1tsp cinamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground clove

115g unsalted butter, softened

150g cup light brown sugar

85g cup treacle

1 egg

Icing sugar

1.Sift flour, and add the salt, pepper, spices and baking powder. Mix.

2. Mix together the butter, brown sugar and treacle until light and airy.

3. Add egg to the treacle mix and blend in.

4. Mix flour into the treacle mixture until doughy. This will be quite loose in consistency. Wrap in cling film and chill for a couple of hours.

5. Preheat oven to 180 celcius/350 farenheit.

6. Grease a couple of baking sheets. Divide the dough into 24 balls (these will be quite large) and flatten slightly onto the baking sheets

7. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes – biscuits should be firm on top, but not hard.

8. Remove from the oven and place on cooling racks for a couple of minutes.

9. At this point you can dredge the biscuits with icing sugar, or put a glaze on them, depending what you want. As in the photo, I did half and half for the pretty 🙂

I think I will probably make these again come Christmas time, perhaps putting a bit of marzipan in each, and dipping with chocolate!

The OH’s friends liked these biscuits, and I even got a hand-shake out of it, so I figure they quite liked these.

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