Gingerbread Men

If you’re a regular reader of my Novice Baker posts then you’ll know how fussy my daughter is when it comes to bakes and cakes.  She is however a firm Gingerbread fan so I had a go at some Gingerbread Men which I baked and we decorated together!  Ahhhhh xx

What you need:

For the biscuits
350g plain flour plus extra for rolling outimage
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g butter
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175g light soft brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg

For decoration
Writing icing and cake decorations (i.e silver balls)

What you do:

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.gingerbread-men

  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.

  5. I suggest baking for 10 -12 minutes max as this leaves them slightly soft which we preferred.  Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. gingerbread-men

  6. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations as required.  gingerbread-men

    You’re never too old to enjoy decorating your biscuits!gingerbread-men

    Until next time….Happy Baking!

Bourbon Biscuits

So it was week two on the Great British Bake off last week and my daughter wanted me to bake her some biscuits.  One of her favourites are Bourbon Biscuits, for those of you not familiar with these, unfortunately they’re not a whiskey flavoured biscuit but a chocolate sandwich biscuit.  I found this recipe on the Good Housekeeping website.

What you need:

For the biscuit
250g/9oz plain flour, plus extra for rollingIMG_0569
125g/4oz unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
50g/2oz cocoa powder
125g/4oz caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the filling
75g/3oz unsalted butter, softened
125g/4oz icing sugar
15g/½oz cocoa powder

What you do:

  1. Put all the biscuit ingredients into a free standing mixer and mix until combined together. I used my dough hook for this and it worked perfectly. Tip the dough on to a work surface and bring together.
  2. Roll out the dough on a sheet of baking parchment, try to make it rectangular as you roll and dust your rolling pin with flour if needed.  This is quite tricky as the paper slides as you roll, you could weight the corners down or just persevere as I did.Bourbon Biscuits
  3. Trim to a 23cm x 30.5cm (9in x 12in) rectangle and cut lengthways into 3 even strips, keeping the strips together cut across them at 1 inch intervals, keeping the rectangles together. I used the end of a cocktail stick to mark the long edges of each biscuit with five dots so that they looked like a traditional Bourbon. Chill for 30 minutes, whilst chilling preheat your oven to 180°c.
  4. The original recipe says bake for 25 minutes which I did and my biscuits burnt.  I would suggest baking for 18 minutes max, remove from the oven and cut through the marks to make sure biscuits are separated. Leave to cool completely.Bourbon Biscuits
  5. When cool, make the filling by putting the butter into a large bowl and sifting in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Mix until combined.  Don’t add any liquid as the icing should be thick.
  6. Sandwich the cooled biscuits together with the chocolate filling, I tried using a piping bag but the filling was just too thick so just had to spread it over.Bourbon Biscuits

Despite the yummy chocolate filling and the perfect biscuit texture, unfortunately for me my biscuits still had that lingering burnt taste.  I hope yours turn out better.

Bourbon Biscuits

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

hummingbird bakery

Here’s another tried and tested recipe from the Hummingbird Home Sweet Home book.  It’s a very simple all in one recipe that gave delicious results; crusty on the outside, melt in your mouth soft and gooey on the inside.

 

What you need:

170g / 6oz plain flourIMG_2243
40g / 1.5oz cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
115g / 4oz unsalted butter, softened
120g / 4oz peanut butter
120g / 4oz caster sugar, plus extra for rolling
90g / 3oz soft light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 170°c and line 2-3 baking trays with greaseproof paper
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb and salt (into a bowl which is not the one you use for your freestanding mixer)
  • Using a freestanding or electric mixer cream together the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy
  • Add the egg and vanilla and mix well

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

  • On a slow speed slowly add the dry ingredients
  • Put the extra caster sugar into a small bowl
  • Roll the dough out into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar
  • Place on the baking tray approx 1 1/2 inches apart
  • Bake for approx 12-15 minutes until have a crusty surface and have cracked

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

  • Cool before serving

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

Until next time….Happy Baking!

Viennese Fingers

I wanted to have a go at piping and thought these biscuits looked simple enough for a beginner piper. My Viennese Fingers are not going to win any Great British Bake Off Star Baker awards, they’re all different shapes and sizes but they still tasted good.

During baking they’ve lost their definition and the recipe I had didn’t work too well for piping either.  So if you have any advice for piping beginners do let me know in the comments because I was ready to throw this mixture at the wall.

What you need:

Piping bag with a medium star nozzleIMG_2096

100g unsalted butter, softened
25g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp baking powder
100g milk or plain chocolate
2 – 3 tbsp. milk

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 170°c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • Beat the sugar and the butter in a freestanding mixer until soft and light
  • Add the vanilla and mix again
  • Sift the corn flour, flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • My recommendation here is to add a couple of spoons of milk to make the dough easier to pipe – this had no detrimental effect

Viennese FingersNow comes the hard bit, the bit I wrongly thought would be the fun part but actually was so stressful.  All for the sake of a biscuit!

The first nozzle I used in the first piping bag was too small,  therefore it was impossible to pipe (think bowling ball through the eye of a needle!)

Just look at this mess!

Just look at this mess!

I then had to transfer the mixture to a second bag with a larger nozzle,  but I think I overfilled the bag because the bloody thing popped!!  At this point, I chucked the mixture back in the mixing bowl and added some milk to soften it up a bit, and off I went with a third piping bag! 🙂

  • Spoon the dough into a piping bag and pipe approx. 10cm fingers onto the prepared tin
  • Bake for approx. 10 – 12 minutes until golden brown
  • Cool on a wire rack until cold

Viennese Fingers

  • Melt the chocolate in a heatproof dish over a simmering pan of water
  • Dip both ends of the biscuit into the chocolate and leave to set on the greaseproof paper

Viennese FingersDespite the absolute disastrous piping experience the biscuits turned out deliciously.  I just don’t know how I do it 😉

Just ignore how phallic they look!

Just ignore how phallic they look!

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Linzer Cookies

Happy Valentines

These biscuits are perfect for sharing with your loved ones on Valentine’s Day and are quick enough to make. This is the Hummingbird Bakery recipe version of the Austrian traditional torte.

What you need: IMG_1881

10oz unsalted softened butter
5 1/2oz caster sugar
13oz plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2oz ground almonds
7oz seedless strawberry jam

 

What you do:

> Line 2 – 3 baking trays with greaseproof paper. For this recipe, I used half the ingredients which made around 9 biscuits so 2 trays were enough.

> In a freestanding mixer or using a handheld mixer cream together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.

> Sieve the flour and cinnamon together and add the almonds. The dry ingredients can now be added to the sugar/butter mixture and mixed to form a dough.

> Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, flatten a little, divide into 2, wrap in cling film and then chill for 15 minutes.

Linzer Cookies

Now, ‘the recipe’ says once chilled, roll out each piece of dough between 2 pieces of greaseproof paper. I’ll admit…this was a faff and I gave up trying and just rolled out the dough on a floured surface – worked for me! My dough was incredibly soft and kept breaking up so is a bit tricky to cut and move the shapes onto the baking tray.

‘The recipe’ also says at this point (rolled between sheets) place on a tray and chill again. Hands up! I didn’t bother because I only have a small fridge and they wouldn’t have fit.

> Preheat your oven to 170ºc and if you’ve chilled for a second time, then roll out and cut your larger heart shapes to approx 4mm thick and place on the tray.

> Roll out any unused dough, cut more larger hearts and then use the smaller cutter to cut out the centres.

Linzer Cookies

It’s at this point that I’m writing this blog that I realise that I’ve made my cookies in the wrong order – duh! In my defence, I wasn’t on top form this week having badly injured my ankle so was trying to race through so I could sit down.

> Anyway…..what I should have done is now bake the cookies, top and bottoms separately (not together like I did).

> Bake them for approx 15 minutes until golden brown.

> In a pan, heat up the jam to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Linzer Cookies

Just pretend these are baked 🙂

> Spoon about 1/2 tsp of jam onto a bottom and then pop on a top to create a sandwich. Ta dah! Ok, so mine didn’t quite have the finesse but the biscuit had a lovely taste. (And..might have been even better had I baked them in the right order).

Linzer Cookies

Until next time, Happy Baking