Rosemary crackers

Hello, it’s March already. Where did February go? It’s not like I’ve been doing anything other than working and staying home. Hope you are safe and well.

This new recipe produces crackers that are so tasty, just the right level of crispy (that is, they don’t dislodge your fillings) and are deceptively quick and easy to make.

It is easiest to make them with a pasta machine, but you can prepare them with a rolling pin, so don’t worry if you haven’t got a pasta sheeting gadget.

One last thing to add, I know not everyone likes mustard (I’m not a huge fan myself) but do try them with the mustard in as it adds a real umami pep to the flavour which doesn’t come across that ‘mustardy’ if you know what I’m trying to say. If you can’t bring yourself to add the mustard powder substitute a hot paprika instead.

Equipment

  • Two large baking trays, lined with parchment/baking paper
  • Large bowl
  • Pasta machine or rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour (spelt can be used instead of wheat if you prefer)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (each about 6-7cm long)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly milled black pepper
  • 90ml water
  • 35ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra flour for dusting

Method

  1. Wash and dry the rosemary (if you think it needs it) and strip the leaves off the stalks
  2. Turn the oven on to 180C fan/ 200C conventional oven
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, salt, mustard, pepper) and the rosemary leaves
  4. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and water and start combining. You may want to use a fork or a Dutch dough whisk for this, but hands are good!
  5. Bring it together and try not to overwork it – knead just enough to combine it so it forms a ball
  6. Set up your pasta machine or roll out by hand. You’ll probably need a little extra flour for dusting your work surface if you’re rolling by hand, but I’ve found this dough goes through the pasta machine quite well without extra flour. If you think it needs it though as it’s sticking, use a little.
  7. Roll out (either method) to about 1.5mm thickness – with these crackers you are limited by the thickness of the rosemary leaves and the height of the cracked pepper. Basically, roll out as thin as you can
  1. Cut into rectangular strips, about 4cm x 20cm
  1. Lay them on the prepared baking sheets. They don’t need much space between them as they don’t expand much
  2. Bake for 13-15 minutes. The crackers should be starting to turn brown and will have bubbled up in places
  3. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
  4. Great eaten with dips (such as Pesto and roasted butternut squash dip) or olive oil or as a main meal accompaniment

Christmas cookie swap: festive caraway and cinnamon biscuit recipe

Christmas Cookies - Ink Sugar Spice

This year I’m participating in the festive cookie swap run by the wonderful (and award winning) blog “Jul’s Kitchen“, and thanks to a Twitter invite by the lovely Lucy Antal. Juls has stated that 230 people worldwide have participated this year, from countries as diverse as Taiwan and Argentina. Bakers only have to swap with those in their own country though.

If you’d like to read Jul’s blog post for the 2019 challenge you can here, though it’s now too late to join up for 2019. Perhaps set yourself a reminder for early November 2020 your calendar to get involved next year? Jul’s Kitchen is a collaboration between Giulia Scarpaleggia, a Tuscany-based food writer, photographer and tutor and her partner Tommaso Galli, who runs the communication, marketing and assists with tutoring.

The premise is to share the festive love! Bake a couple of batches of biscuits and dispatch them across the country, and you’ll receive cookies back. What’s not to love?! Sharing, having an excuse to bake, feeling festive, giving and receiving gifts and connecting with others.

If you want to look out for what the 230 participating people have shared then search for the hashtags #cookieswap2019 #julskitchen

I was delighted to receive some gorgeous Lancashire tosset biscuits from Lucy Antal and some Calzoncelli biscuits (in a little jar, with a cute pot of lemon curd!) from Katlin Stevens. Thank you ladies!

Here’s my Christmas biscuit recipe that I’ve developed and used for this cookie swap. It produces a relatively dry biscuit, as they did need to get posted. So, this recipe is idea for gifting – through the post or wrapped beautifully and hand delivered with love.

Notes

  • Makes about 35
  • Instead of dusting with icing sugar, for extra luxe dip in melted chocolate to finish

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Large bowl
  • Two baking sheets, lined
  • Fine sieve
  • Wire cooling rack(s)
  • Wooden spoons, scales

Ingredients

  • 70g of olive oil – I used Filippo Berio’s Classico (your choice of oil to meet your taste preference, but anything from a mild to an extra virgin will work: anything more special/rich/highly flavoured will affect the taste too much)
  • 112g black treacle
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 345g plain flour, preferably tipo 00
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 1 medium – large egg
  • zest of one orange
  • plus you may need 15-20ml milk (depending on the size of the egg you used and humidity/dryness of other ingredients)
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Method

  • Warm your oven to 190° C fan / 210° C conventional or 400° F and set the shelves to the middle of your oven
  • Prepare two baking sheets with greaseproof paper or baking parchment
  • Weigh the black treacle and the olive oil both out into the saucepan and then add in the caraway seeds
  • Warm the treacle and oil over a low heat, while stirring with a wooden spoon, until the treacle softens and you can stir the two together (they naturally do not want to combine until warmed). Do not turn the heat up or the treacle will bubble
  • Once mixed, turn off the heat – do not keep on the heat longer than necessary
  • Weigh out all the other ingredients into your mixing bowl: flour, baking powder, all three spices, cocoa, vanilla extract, orange zest, sugar and egg and roughly mix them together
  • Using a sieve over the mixing bowl, pour out the oil and treacle mix so that the caraway seeds are captured in the sieve. (They’ve flavoured the oil and treacle but are now not needed)
  • Mix all the ingredients together
  • You may need a little extra milk if your ingredients feel powdery and are not coming together (this is normally due to a smaller size egg, but other things like lack of humidity in your kitchen etc can effect this). Add 15 ml of milk at first, and see if that is enough. Add a little more in tiny increments until you are satisfied – the mix should be robust but clump together well
  • Take a walnut-sized amount of dough (if you wish to be more precise, 20g of dough is a perfect size) and roll it in your palms to make a rough ball
  • Slightly squash the dough ball, so it becomes more disc-shaped and place on the baking tray
  • These biscuits do not spread much, so you can place them about 1-2 cm apart
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes
  • Transfer to wire racks to cool and dust with icing sugar when completely cooled
Christmas Cookies - Ink Sugar Spice

Chocolate-hazelnut spread sandwich biscuits

Gorgeous and deceptively easy to make sandwich biscuits. I normally waffle on for ages before my recipes, but there’s little to say except go make these! They only take about 20 mins of actual preparation (ignoring the rest-in-the-fridge time and cooling) and bake even quicker.

Use any gianduja, Nutella or similar spread for this. It’s unlike me to not make everything from scratch, but I needed a quick show-stopper cookie and a jar of pre-made saved a lot of time.

Notes

  • These biscuits get a little extra ‘snap’ with the addition of semola/semolina flour (made from hard durum wheat). However, you can just use ALL plain flour instead (so use 270g plain flour) or you can substitute rice flour for the semola
  • I cut out the little shaped holes in the biscuits before baking, but I also re-cut them after they had just been baked (when still warm) to give a sharp definition as these biscuits do spread a little
  • If you don’t have a tiny cutter for the centres on the top halves, then you can use the large end of a piping nozzle.
  • Makes about 13-14 finalised sandwiches (about 26-28 actual single biscuit shapes)
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Equipment

  • 2 large baking sheets, prepared with baking parchment/greaseproof paper or silicon sheets
  • Rolling pin
  • Small palette knife (or use the back of a spoon) for spreading
  • Large palette knife or fish slice (for lifting)
  • Large biscuit/cookie cutter – mine is 2.5 cm x 7.5 cm (3 Inch x 1 Inch), but use what you have available
  • Smaller cutter for the middle cut-out (I used a small flower shape but any small cutter, approximately 1.5 cm in diameter will do, or substitute a piping nozzle)
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – 200g
  • Caster sugar – 100g
  • Plain flour or Tipo 00 flour – 220g – plus extra for dusting
  • Fine semolina flour (semola) – 50g (see notes above: can use all plain flour or substitute rice flour)
  • Salt 1/2 tsp
  • Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract – 1 tsp

Plus:

  • Choc-hazelnut spread (gianduja or Nutella or similar) – about 200 – 250g

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the biscuit dough together (all but the choc-hazelnut spread). Aim for a smooth dough but don’t overwork it
  2. You’ll need to dust both your work surface and your rolling pin quite liberally with flour for these biscuits (due to the high quality of butter in them)
  3. Roll out the dough to about 4mm thick and cut out the biscuit shapes with your cutter
  4. Make the biscuits in pairs: one solid biscuit and one biscuit with a little cut-out, using the smaller cutter (or piping nozzle tip)
  5. Re-roll any scraps (including those produced by little cutter) and cut out more shapes until you’ve used all your dough.
  6. You need to have an even number of biscuits to make the sandwiches, but don’t worry if there’s one rogue one, it can be eaten on its own or replace one that may have snapped!
  7. Make sure that for every complete biscuit there is a biscuit with a little shape stamped out
  8. Using the large spatula/fish slice gently place them on the prepared baking trays
  9. They will spread a little (especially if you miss out the next step of chilling) so leave some space between them
  10. Chill for 15 minutes, and while they’re chilling put your oven on – fan oven at 180˚C, or 200˚C conventional or 400˚F
  11. Bake in the bottom or centre of the oven for about 14 minutes. They should just be starting to brown at the edges
  12. Leave to cool for one minute – no more – and while they are still in the trays, use your small cutter to go over the cut-out shapes to sharpen them up. Leave tidying up these trimmed bits until the biscuits are fully cooled or you may risk denting the biscuits
  13. Leave to cool in the trays for a further 15 minutes and then transfer to the wire rack. Ensure they’re fully cooled before filling so they won’t melt the spread

To assemble

  1. Firstly, gently poke out any bits of biscuit within the cut-out areas to smarten them up
  2. Spread a thick layer of the chocolate-hazelnut spread over the bottom half biscuit (ie a biscuit with no hole in it) with a small palette knife or the back of a spoon
  3. Gently place one of the tops (a biscuit with a shape cut out) onto the biscuit base you’ve just covered
  4. Repeat for all of the biscuits and place on a baking tray or in any container and chill in your fridge for at least 10 minutes (this stops the spread melting into the biscuit and making it soggy, and helps with storage)
  5. You can keep them in the fridge, but they’ll also keep in an airtight container well providing it’s not in too warm an environment (otherwise the spread will start to melt)
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Mini Easter egg biscotti

Mini Easter egg biscotti biscuit recipe - Ink Sugar Spice

Biscotti, I’m sure you know means ‘twice baked’ in Italian, and that’s exactly what you have to do with these lovely little biscuits. They make wonderful gifts packaged up in waxed paper, placed in gift boxes or wrapped in raffia.

I’ve also given two options on the second cooking time, 7-8 minutes will produce a marginally softer end biscuit, as I know some don’t like the hardness of a traditional baked biscotti. However, if you do want that typical hard biscuit to dip into your cappuccino or mocha, then just leave them in for the full 12 minutes.

You could use large chocolate chunks, or something like M&Ms, instead of mini eggs for biscuits that will go down a treat at any time of year, not just Easter.

I’ve used a mild olive oil for these, so there’s no need to waste your expensive extra virgin oil (and also the taste of the higher quality oils aren’t needed here)

Notes

  • It doesn’t matter if you use sugar-coated mini eggs or just solid chocolate ones. Equally use your favourite chocolate, whether that’s milk or dark (white is a bit too sweet for this bake)
  • Makes around 30 biscotti
  • Takes 10 minutes to prepare and around 40 minutes to bake in total (this includes cooling for 10 minutes in between the bakes)
Mini Easter egg biscotti biscuit recipe - Ink Sugar Spice
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Two large baking sheets (or multiple small ones/cook in batches)
  • Baking paper/parchment (if it’s not reliably non-stick, wipe a kitchen towel moistened with olive oil over it)
  • Sharp knife, a heavy one is most useful
  • Spatula/slices (for lifting)
  • Wire airing rack

Ingredients

  • Plain flour or Tipo 00 flour – 270g
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Eggs, medium/large sized – 2
  • Caster sugar – 120g
  • Olive oil – 95ml
  • Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Mini chocolate Easter eggs – 2 x typical 80g packs

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 C fan or 180 C conventional (325 F)
  2. Line your baking trays with the parchment
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, caster sugar, olive oil and vanilla extract and bring this gooey dough together in the bowl
  4. Now gently mix in the eggs
  5. Have your worktop/table covered in a light dusting of flour
  6. Take the mix out of the bowl and divide into two
  7. Shape each piece of dough into a long, slightly flattened log about 6cm in width
  8. You may want to press in a few additional eggs into the top of the dough, so they are seen after baking
  9. Bake for 20 mins until just starting to brown
  10. Take the bakes out of the oven, but do not turn your oven off
  11. Leave the bakes to cool, still sat on their baking trays
  12. After about 10-12 minutes they should be cool enough to slice
  13. Using a sharp knife, cut off 1 cm / 0.5 inch slices and lay them on their sides on the baking trays (like in the image below)
Mini Easter egg biscotti - on Ink Sugar Spice
  1. Place the sliced biscuits bake in the oven
  2. Leave them for 8 minutes for a shortbread-like consistency or for 12 minutes if you would like hard biscotti to dunk in your coffee
  3. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container for 3 – 4 days (up to a week if you baked them harder)
Mini Easter egg biscotti biscuit recipe - Ink Sugar Spice
Mini egg biscotti - Ink Sugar Spice
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Sticky crumble topped gingerbread

imageSearching for a gingerbread recipe can be a bit confusing – for a start gingerbread can be a rich loaf cake, a pain d’epices, or it can be a crisp biscuit for gingerbread houses or little iced biscuits (see my own recipe for Gingerbread foxes). This is neither! Inspired in part by Grassmere gingerbread (a Lakeland classic) this is a gooey, soft biscuit with a spiced crumble topping and perfect for a Christmas treat.

Notes

  • Makes about 22 triangular biscuits, but you can chop them into any shape.
  • This is a double bake recipe, that is you need to bake shortbread first, then use this shortbread as part of the main bake.
  • These make awesome foodie Christmas gifts.

Equipment

  • small saucepan
  • small baking tray (about 18 cm x 24 cm)
  • parchment/baking paper/silicon mat
  • large bowl and a smaller bowl or cup
  • scales, measuring spoons
  • wire cooking rack
  • wooden spoon

Ingredients for the shortbread base

  • Plain flour – 145 g
  • Ground almonds – 30 g
  • Caster sugar – 70 g
  • Unsalted butter at room temperature – 110g

Other ingredients

  • Light brown sugar or demerara – 70g
  • Ground ginger – 2 teaspoons
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Golden syrup – 40 g
  • Treacle – 30 g
  • Unsalted butter – 50 g
  • Crystalised ginger – 55 g
  • Lemon zest – zest of half a lemon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C fan / 200 °C conventional
  2. Place some greasproof or baking paper in your baking tray
  3. Crumble the ingredients for the shortbread together in a bowl, mixing it in with your fingers until you get fine sand
  4. No need to roll out the shortbread – you are going to bake this as crumbs
  5. Tip the crumbed shortbread dough onto your baking sheet and spread it out so it’s in one thin layer
  6. Bake for 13-14 minutes until it’s starting to go a nice golden brown
  7. Remove and leave to cool a little
  8. Do not turn off your oven
  9. Crumble the cooked shortbread back into the bowl – leave the baking tray with the greaseproof paper to one side as you will use it again (and there is no need to lay a new piece of paper down)
  10. To the bowl, add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and the light brown sugar
  11. Mix thoroughly and ensure there are no large pieces of shortbread
  12. Spoon out about 25% of this crumble and put it to one side in a separate small bowl or cup
  13. Into the remaining shortbread crumble mix (still in the bowl) add in another teaspoon of ginger and the zest of half a lemon
  14. Finely chop the crystalised ginger and add that to the bowl as well
  15. In a saucepan, melt the additional 50 g butter with the treacle and golden syrup
  16. When melted (don’t let it bubble or boil) tip this into the crumble mixture in the bowl and mix it all together
  17. Pour this mixture out onto the lined baking tray and press it down so that it makes an even layer
  18. Bake for 10 minutes
  19. Remove the tray from the oven, sprinkle the reamining crumble (that you kept aside) all over the gingerbread. Even it out with your fingers or a fork and then press the crumble down slightly into the gingerbread (with your fingers or the back of a spoon)
  20. Bake for a further 4 minutes
  21. Leave to cool and cut into triangles or squares

image

 

Honey, orange and hazelnut biscuits 🐝

IMG_0398 copy

I have been a bit behind this month with my website and social media, though this sort of break is good for your sanity. For the most part this hiatus is due to my working on some sets of illustrated gift tags and leather bee key fobs (those in the pic above), and that I have opened an Etsy shop (click on Shop in the menu above) to start to sell some of these items.

Listing on Etsy may not seem much, as it’s pretty much there to make selling easy and to hand hold sellers, but it’s a big deal for me. I’ve put off selling my illustrations and crafts for too long because I have a little problem with numbers, muddling them up sometimes and that has lead me to be terrified of anything financial. I can’t say for sure that it’s dyscalculia (the ‘number version’ of dyslexia) as I’ve been able to work round it I’ve not needed to seek a label for it. Some days I’m fine, others I get confused: for instance, I could give you my phone number 100% correctly on one day, but the next day you might get the numbers in all the wrong order from me. My worse thing is choosing between similar numbers, such as in lists, questions or when comparing prices.

I have read into dyscalulia a little, after eventually discovering that it is a ‘thing’ and recognising myself a little in it. It appears that it can be very bad, causing fundamental problems such as not even being able to work out which is the higher denomination between two numbers. Imagine not being able to tell if you’re handing over a few pounds or hundreds or even if you’re getting out of the right floor from an elevator? Of course, there are all shades of difficulty in between mild and such extremes. As little as I experience it, I get teased and giggled at, so it must be acutely embarrassing for those who have a worse experience. People don’t get teased for being dyslexic anymore, they get help and understanding, but I’ve never heard of anyone getting help with number difficulties.

What I’m driving at with all of this rambling about numbers is not just because I’ve finally ignored my terror of having to do a tax return is that this little recipe is in my maths comfort zone and includes some geometry.

You may remember my (still) very popular spiral marble cake ‘cake and maths‘ post some time ago in which I gave diagrams and instructions to create a very graphic cake?spiralcake4

I continue to need the use of geometry – it’s one of the few areas of maths learnt at school I regularly use. Despite my issues with numbers I did understand the concepts and formulas of maths. I managed a C in ‘O’ Level Maths because I was bright enough to understand it all yet I made some howling errors through writing things down incorrectly. I rely on geometric principles to create many of the images in my day job as a graphic designer and I use geometry to develop stencils and plans for my crafts and baking.

This little craft make is dead simple! And, if you really want ease, you can just make these biscuits with any cookie cutter shape if you’re not fussed with keeping to the honeycomb hexagons.

Notes

  • Makes 12+ biscuits depending on the size of your hexagon stencil
  • You don’t have to make hexagons, but they’re a lovely nod to the honeycomb shape as you’re using honey rather than processed sugar granules for these biscuits
  • Instead of dip-icing,  you can pipe and flood the icing if you prefer – this will produce a smoother finish but of course takes a lot longer
  • Monin syrup is usually found in the tea and coffee aisle in a supermarket or deli, as it’s traditionally a coffee flavouring, although I only use it for baking and for flavouring cocktails 🍸
  • To crank the icing up a notch, you could paint black stripes across the biscuits to mimic a bee’s colouration
  • You could use chopped hazelnuts, but I like the large chunks of hazelnuts that are kept if you roughly crush whole nuts for this

IMG_0402.JPG

Equipment for the hexagon stencil

  • Card
  • Pencil and compass
  • Craft knife
  • Ruler

How to form the hexagon stencil

hexagon

  • This is a great bit of simple and elegant geometry! You can construct a hexagon in any circle without measuring or changing the dimension of your compass point. And it works with any radius circle
  • Draw a circle with your compass, I’d suggest using a 3 cm radius (6cm total diameter) for these cookies – Figure 1
  • Without altering the compass, place the point on the circumference of the circle, absolutely anywhere (the compass point placement is represented by the green dot). Now, make an arc, intersecting the circumference at the two points the pencil crosses – Figure 2
  • Move the compass point to one of these intersecting points (again marked here by a green dot) and make another arc – Figure 3
  • Continue round until you have a six intersecting points (two will have ‘doubled up’) – Figures 4 and 5
  • Join up the six points using a ruler and pencil to create a hexagon – Figure 6
  • Cut out with a craft knife and the ruler

Equipment for the biscuits

  • Large bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Palette knife and/or cranked handle knife
  • Large baking tray, lined with parchment/greaseproof paper or 2 x smaller trays
  • Airing rack
  • Scales and measuring spoons
  • Citrus reamer
  • Small bowl (something low and with a wide circumference is ideal, as dipping biscuits into a small bowl is tricky)
  • Electric whisk, small balloon whisk or magic whisk

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – 120g
  • Honey – 3 tablespoons
  • Plain flour or 00 flour – 230g
  • Monin noisette syrup or vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Hazelnuts – 35g

Ingredients for the icing 

  • Orange juice – juice of one large orange
  • Icing sugar – 200g
  • Egg white powder – just under 1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of fresh egg white
  • A few drops of yellow food colouring
  • A few drops of warm water if needed

Method

  1. Crush the hazelnuts into rough pieces (a good way to do this is to roll the rolling pin back and forth over them)
  2. Put the oven on to 180 C fan / 200 C
  3. Prepare a large baking tray with baking parchment
  4. Rub the butter into the flour in the bowl until you have small particles and no lumps of butter
  5. Mix the rest of the ingredients in (honey, syrup/extract and nuts)
  6. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 8mm thick (about 3/8″) (you may need to lightly dust the rolling pin with a little flour too)
  7. Using your hexagon shape as a template cut out as many hexagons as you can and place them about 1 cm apart on the baking tray
  8. Re-roll the leftover dough to create as many hexagons as possible until all the dough is usedIMG_0389
  9. Bake for 12 minutes
  10. Leave to cool a little, then transfer to a wire rack using the palette knife until completely cooled IMG_0391
  11. When the biscuits are ready, mix up the icing ingredients. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl then add the lemon juice, egg white powder (or egg white), food colouring and water (if needed). Beat until it is smooth and totally lump-free. It needs to be a fairly thick but still fluid consistency, something like custard because you are dipping and the icing needs to cover the (probably) bumpy surface as the biscuits have nuts in them
  12. Dip each biscuit into the icing, and allow the icing to drip a little. Smooth off the side drips with a knife and place on a wire rack. Pop any bubbles in the icing with a toothpickIMG_0392
  13. Repeat with all the biscuits, after which you can go round the edges again to score off any drips
  14. Leave until the icing is solid, which will be at least 5-6 hours

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Spelt shortbreads with streusel topping

SpeltBiccies2a

I love playing with different flours to change up the texture and quality of bakes that are traditionally made with wheat flour. Some flours will dramatically change the texture, crumb and consistency of a bake, but I’ve found spelt can be a direct replacement in my kitchen with very little change. The spelt flour looks slightly darker and heavier than white wheat flour, but this perception is slightly misleading.

What I’ve found is that spelt is thirstier than wheat; by that I mean it takes up more water in comparison to the same amount of white flour. This seems to be at odds with everything that I’ve read about spelt, suggesting it ought to be the opposite (that is, needs less liquid) – perhaps it’s the type of bakes that I’ve used it in. So, I’d just suggest that if you are converting recipes to spelt please bear in mind that the ratio of liquids to flour will need to be played around with to get it right, whether that’s more or less liquid.

Spelt may look heavy but it’s certainly not: it produces fluffy light bakes with a warmer, nuttier flavour and a slightly darker colour. I think it makes nice breads and is perfect for richer cakes like loaf cakes or traybakes but this is very personal – some people like spelt cakes but not bread or vice versa, or as I do just like it in anything.

It’s now very easy to get hold of spelt flours (white or wholegrain) now. I like the 100% British spelt from Craggs & Co, who are farmers based in the North East of England (this isn’t an advert, it’s just I love the quality of this flour). The spelt flakes I used in this recipe are also from here.

Notes

  • You can make these biscuits as normal rounds, but they are also nice as rings as I’ve done in some images
  • If you are making ring biscuits and don’t have a small cutter for the centre holes, a good hack is using the large end of a piping nozzle!
  • Makes about 20 – 24 (depending whether you cut out the holes or not)
  • You can get spelt flour in supermarkets, delis, health food shops and online easily
  • If you cannot get spelt flakes, then wheat or oat flakes can be substituted (but are less nutty and don’t match quite as well)

SpeltBiccies2b.jpg

Equipment

  • 2 large baking sheets, prepared with baking parchment or silicon sheets
  • Rolling pin
  • Palette knife
  • Large round cutter – about 6cm
  • Smaller cutter for the middle cut-out (something 1 – 2cm in diameter will do) if using
  • Large bowl and a small bowl
  • Pastry cutter (ideal but not necessary)

Ingredients – biscuits

  • Unsalted butter at room temperature – 170g
  • Caster sugar – 100g
  • White spelt flour – 250g
  • Salt 1/2 tsp
  • Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • Milk – 20ml
  • Extra flour for dusting

Ingredients – streusel

  • Spelt flakes (or malted wheat flakes) – 4 tablespoons
  • Chopped mixed nuts – 4 tablespoons
  • Granulated sugar – 2 tablespoons
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 tablespoon
  • Unsalted butter, softened a little – 1 tablespoon

Method

  1. Put your oven on to 180˚C fan, or 200˚C conventional
  2. Weigh out the butter and flour in the large bowl and either cut the butter into the flour using your pastry cutter or rub it in using your fingers (or you could use a food processor)
  3. Mix the rest of the biscuit dough ingredients into the butter and flour. Aim for a smooth dough but don’t overwork it
  4. Rest the dough for 10 -15 minutes in the fridge, wrapped in cling film or in a food bag
  5. When the dough is rested, dust both your work surface and your rolling pin fairly liberally with flour (there is a lot of butter in these biscuits and they may well stick otherwise)
  6. Roll out the dough to about 3-4mm thick and cut out as many rounds with the large cutter as you can. Then, if making rings, cut out a hole in the middle of each (you can re-roll these centre pieces of dough to make more biscuits)
  7. Mix the streusel ingredients lightly together in a bowl
  8. Put a teaspoon of the streusel mix on the top of each biscuit and spread it to the edges with the tip of a spoon. If you find this easier you can tip the streusel mix onto your worktop and then press the biscuits into the streusel, but be careful not to disfigure the shape of the biscuit by pressing too hard – I used the teaspoon technique on the round biscuits in my photos and the pressing technique on the ring versions
    SpeltBiccies2c-beforebaking.jpg
  9. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits, placing them gently on the prepared baking trays with at least 1cm gap between them
  10. If some of the biscuits look a bit bare in places you can sprinkle what’s left of the streusel over them before they go in the oven
  11. Bake for around 14 minutes in the middle of the oven
  12. As soon as the biscuits are out of the oven, lightly press the streusel down on the biscuits with the back of a spoon (to stop it from flaking off when eating)
  13. Leave to cool fully

SpeltStreuselShortbreads1

Pistacchio Garibaldi biscuits

Garibaldi1After I posted these on Instagram, someone pointed out to me that a comedian called Alexei Sayle did a sketch on ‘Revolutionary Biscuits‘ (I found this on YouTube: it’s definitely 80’s angry comedy). He says something like “You’ve got your Garibaldi – Italian dictator, you’ve got your Bourbon – French revolutionaries and of course you’ve got your Peak Frean Trotsky Assortment”.

I’m thinking there’s a whole new scope for dictator-named biscuit snacks. Who wouldn’t like to bite into a Pol Pot gingerbread? There’s sadly been that many dictators over time that you could fill a whole Christmas assortment box of biscuits.

I didn’t have any intention in posting this recipe, but I had a few enquiries about it from Instagram and, after raising a cursory question who’d like to try them, I got quite a few raised hands (which was delightful thank you!). So, here we are, recipe at the ready.

I remember Garibaldis from my childhood and they were old fashioned then, let alone now (even though you can still buy them I see, but clearly not in superior pistacchio flavour!). Sometimes a vintage bake is just the thing to hit the spot. My dear old Dad used to call them dead fly biscuits when I was tiny, which actually put me off eating them till he stopped teasing me. I didn’t really think there were dead flies in them, just that the association made me go “Euwww” too much to face trying them till I got older.

I’m sure that I remember my mum buying packs of ‘luxury’ versions covered with chocolate on one side. No one else around my age group I’ve asked remembers chocolate-covered Garibaldis and now they all think I’ve gone loopy. Whether my recollection can be relied on or not, I bet these biscuits would be even lovelier draped in a layer of milk choc, and I may well be doing this soon.

Notes

There are a couple of specialist ingredients in this bake: pistacchio paste and caramel syrup. Here in the UK you can buy the paste in any M&S food hall or it can be found in deli’s or online (see my resources page). It lasts for ages and is gorgeous and can be used in a lot of things, including savoury. Frankly, I’m never without a jar in the fridge, but then I’m a pistacchio addict. The syrup should be slightly easier to get hold of, but it’s probably not where you’d think it should be in the baking/ingredient section. It’ll be in the coffee product aisle in your supermarket as it’s primarily sold as one a coffee syrup, but I bet you’ll soon be using it in a lot of your baking! Alternatively, you can make something akin to this syrup by putting 100g of granulated sugar and a tablespoon of golden syrup in a saucepan, adding just enough water to soak through (and no more) and boil till it caramelises/is golden brown. Remember no stirring once it starts to bubble or it will crystallise. If it’s too thick once cooled but the the right colour, carefully add a teaspoon or two at a time of water and stir through until thinned enough to ‘baste’ with.

Makes one giant slab of biscuits – about 40cm x 30cm. Be warned – the first time I made these I tried to get them all in one large baking sheet. All the edges browned much faster because they were in contact with the conducted heat of the rim of the baking sheet. It’s much better to cut the slab of biscuits in half and bake on two trays as I’ve described in the recipe.

Don’t separate the biscuits, when you cut leave the them as they are as they’ll bake with sharp edges where you can see the raisins and pistacchios peeking out. If you separate them, the biscuits want to spread and you’ll get softer edges (not the Garibaldi way).

The pistacchio pasta frolla on its own makes excellent shortbread-style biscuits or is a great pie crust. In fact it can substituted for most sweet shortcrust pastry/pâte sucrée.

Prep time: about 20 mins | Resting time: 2 x 15 mins at least | Baking time: <20mins

Total make time: 1hr 10 roughly (well, it all depends on your own work speed in the kitchen!)

Makes about 24-30 (depending on the size of cut biscuits)

Garibaldi2 - ingredients

Equipment

  • Two large baking sheets
  • Baking parchment or paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Large bowl
  • Pastry cutter or table knives (you’ll see later)
  • Pizza wheel (ideally) or long sharp knife
  • Pastry brush
  • Spoons, scales, measuring jugs and spoons and a table fork

Ingredients for the pasta frolla (Italian sweet short pastry)

  • 00 flour – 300g
  • Caster sugar – 125g
  • Unsalted butter, kept cold – 200g
  • Pistacchio paste – 20g
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • Eggs, large – 1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
  • Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon

Inclusions and caramel glaze

  • Pistacchios, shelled and slightly crushed – 125g (or thereabouts)
  • Raisins – 150g (ish)
  • Caramel syrup, such as Monin’s – about 50 – 60 ml

Additional

  • Extra flour for dusting

Method – pasta frolla

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together: that’s the flour, sugar and salt
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes
  3. Add the butter and pistacchio paste to the dry ingredients and cut it in, using either a pastry cutter, a couple of kitchen knives (in a two handed chopping action) or rub in with your fingers. (I’ve suggested using a cutter as the pistacchio paste is quite sticky but you can rub it in)
  4. Add the egg and egg yolk and the lemon juice and briefly knead until it’s all evenly distributed. You should not need more liquid – this is quite a solid pastry, but add a tiny amount if you really think it’s needed (this is most likely caused by a smaller size of eggs or a lower humidity in your kitchen)
  5. Leave to rest in your fridge for 15 minutes

Method – construction and baking

  1. When rested, halve the dough and roll both out in to as perfect a rectangle as you can on a lightly floured surface. It’s also best to slightly flour the rolling pin
  2. The rectangles don’t have to be perfect, but they should be as close a match to each other as possible
  3. Aim to roll out to about 3-4mm thick
  4. Transfer one of the dough rectangles on to a large sheet of baking parchment/paper
  5. Only slightly dampen the pastry brush and use it to moisten the top of this rectangle of dough
  6. Scatter the crushed pistacchios and raisins over this layer of dough and lightly roll over with the rolling pin
  7. Place the second dough rectangle over the first. Roll over with the rolling pin to press down – you don’t need to be really firm or you’ll end up with the pistacchios poking through the top. This creates that indented, mottled top to the Garibaldis which is really characteristic and helps gel both layers together around the nuts and raisins
  8. Using a fork, dock the biscuit dough all over, as you would when blind baking a pastry case. This may not be easy in some places because of the hard pistacchios! This stops the pastry from puffing up too much
  9. Using a pizza wheel or large sharp knife, cut the rectangle in half and slide one half of the biscuit dough away from the other slightly. Cut the baking parchment/paper along this gap you’ve created
  10. For each slab of biscuit dough, cut the dough using the pizza cutter or knife into rectangles: they should be about 4cm x 3cm. You’ll get about 12-15 from each half of dough, so about 24-30 in total
  11. Picking up one side of the baking paper, which now has one half of the sliced, unbaked biscuits on and place on a baking tray. Repeat with the other paper/dough onto a separate baking tray, so that the paper you rolled and cut them on becomes the baking tray paper
  12. Do not separate out the biscuits
  13. Take your pastry brush again and spread the caramel syrup all over the tops of both sheets of unbaked biscuits
  14. Leave the baking trays of unbaked biscuits to rest, ideally in the fridge (or somewhere cool if you can’t get the trays in the fridge) for 15 minutes
  15. Put your oven on to 170C fan / 190C conventional (about 325 F)
  16. When the oven is ready, bake for 18 – 20 minutes (you may need to turn half way through)
  17. Leave to cool in the trays for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. They can be stored for 3 – 4 days in an airtight container

Garibaldi5

Twisted olive oil biscuits with orange juice – biscotti torcetti con arancia e olio d’oliva

image1.JPGThese lovely biscuits have a crunchy exterior and a soft middle. They are softly flavoured throughout with orange, including the drizzled icing. The fine quality of the Tipo 00 flour gives the crust extra bite.

I am delighted that Filippo Berio has seen fit to include my recipe on their website.

Notes

  • Makes 10 large or 20 small biscuits
  • If you cannot get hold of Tipo 00 flour, the finest quality plain flour will be a good substitute. Do not use self raising flour

Equipment

  • Large bowl and a small bowl
  • Knife, orange juicer/reamer, teaspoon or honey drizzler
  • Baking sheet
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Small measuring jug
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking parchment / greaseproof paper

Ingredients

  • Tipo 00 flour – 250g (plus a little extra for dusting)
  • Caster sugar – 70g
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 50ml
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • Orange juice – 90ml (from two oranges or carton orange juice)
  • Zest of 1 orange

For the icing

  • Icing sugar – 120g
  • Orange juice – 27-28ml*

* you can substitute half of the orange juice for the icing with either Triple Sec or Grang Marnier liqueur

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 180°C / 200°C
  2. Line your baking sheet and leave to one side
  3. In your bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder, caster sugar, salt, zest and mix together
  4. Squeeze out your orange juice and measure to the 90ml mark
  5. Working quickly (as the orange juice will activate the baking powder), mix the orange juice and the olive oil into the flour mixture and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface
  6. Roll out the dough to a rectangle that is about 6-7mm thick and around 15cm x 26cm in shape (about 3/8″ thick, by 6″ x 10″). The dough will be very maliable for a biscuit dough (it’s quite fun to use!)
  7. Cut thin strips about 6-7mm across (so their cross section is square)
  8. Take two strips and twist them around each other. The intertwined biscuit will be about 15cm (6″) long
  9. If you want small biscuits you can cut the biscuit in half now
  10. Place the biscuit on the prepared baking tray and repeat with the remaining strips to make more biscuits, adding them to the tray as well
  11. These biscuits puff up slightly, so leave a 2 cm (1″)  gap between them
  12. If you are left with a single strip of dough, then cut this in half and make one half-sized biscuit
  13. Place the tray towards the bottom of the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes: the biscuits will be nicely browned
  14. Bring out and cool in the baking tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack
  15. When the biscuits are fully cooled, you can make the icing
  16. Weigh out the icing sugar in the small bowl and add the orange juice (or orange juice and liqueur mix)
  17. Mix together thoroughly, and check it is the right consistency: it should run off a spoon in a ribbon after about half a second. If it is too wet, add a little more icing sugar. If it feels too dry (it doesn’t drip) then add a very small amount of additional orange juice
  18. Put the rack with the cooled biscuits back over the baking tray, so it catches any drips of icing
  19. Using a teaspoon or a honey drizzler (I find this very good at this job!) drizzle the icing back and forth over the biscuits until they have roughly the same amount of icing
  20. Leave to dry for an hour or two
  21. These biscuits don’t last as long as butter biscuits, as they are quite soft, but will keep for 5-6 days in an airtight container