Taking the biscuit

As you may know, I have been trying to cut palm oil out of my life. Palm oil has certain properties that make it a great ingredient for manufacturers and it can be tricky to avoid unless you cook everything from scratch, particularly since it isn’t always listed as ‘palm oil’ in ingredients lists. Anyway, I discovered a few months ago that it’s in most commercially-produced biscuits (including my beloved digestives). The answer, however, was provided by two friends: Sue sent me three recipes and Kate sent me one. Since January, therefore, I have not bought any biscuits and I have made all the ones we have eaten at home. This not only avoids palm oil, but also greatly reduces plastic packaging since most of the ingredients (including the butter) come in paper or glass.

The key to a good biscuit (rather than a cookie), according to Sue, is to use a hard fat. The choice comes down to butter or hard white vegetable fat. However, it turns out that the latter (e.g. Trex) is made from palm oil. So, I’m sorry vegans, but all the successful biscuits I have made have contained butter.

I’m going to share the four recipes here, for those of you who also want to make your own. The measures are in the original units in which each recipe was written, so there is a mix of ounces and grams.

Ginger nuts

16 Biscuits 15

ginger nuts

 

8oz SR flour
2 heaped teaspoons ground ginger
4oz sugar (white or golden granulated)
3oz butter
4oz golden syrup
1 egg

Mix the dry ingredients, melt the butter and syrup, mix everything together. Shape teaspoonfuls into rough balls and press down a little, then arrange on greased baking trays with plenty of room to spread. Bake at 150C for 15 mins or until golden and becoming crisp. Cool on a rack and put in tin as soon as cold.

Shortbread Biscuits (Mr Snail’s favourite, especially dipped in chocolate)

16 Biscuits 3

We love shortbread biscuits

200g butter (soft)
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g plain flour
50g ground rice

Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla, work in the flour and rice. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick, cut into rounds (or hearts) and bake at 160C for 15-20 mins.

Granny Boyd’s biscuits

16 Biscuits 11

lovely and chocolatey

 

250g butter
125g caster sugar
300g SR flour
30 g cocoa powder

Cream together butter and sugar. Sift cocoa and flour together and work into mixture. Form into walnut sized balls and arrange on trays. Flatten slightly with the back of a fork. Bake at 170C for 5 mins then turn the oven down to 150C for another 10-15 mins. The top should be firm and the inside slightly squidgy – they firm as they cool.

Digestive biscuits from a Victorian recipe

16 Biscuits 2

digestives

 

4oz fine oatmeal
2oz wholemeal flour
2oz white plain flour
2oz soft brown sugar
Quarter of a teaspoon of salt
Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
3oz butter
1 egg

Rub the butter into the dry ingredients and then add the egg. Mix well. Roll out to about 0.25-0.5 cm, cut into rounds and place on a baking tray. Bake at 190C for 10-15 minutes. Allow them to cool and if they aren’t crispy enough I put them back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

I would add another recipe to my collection of favourite biscuits and that’s Delia Smith’s chocolate chip ginger nuts, the recipe for which is here. These are very rich and very delicious:

16 Biscuits 13

chocolate ginger nuts with chocolate chips

So, do you have a favourite biscuit recipe to share?

 

 

The Furred Man – Half Baked

To celebrate biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off, Auguste and I have been doing some cooking that didn’t involve putting things in jars. Rather than write about it himself, Auguste asked Mr Snail to do the honours…

writinghouse

Wine and Bear ItOn your marks… get set… DRINK! Er, I mean BAKE!

Here in the UK, we have one of those pseudo-reality shows that deals with the deeply philosophical subject of baking. Such is the fervour for the Great British Bake Off (hereafter to be known as GBBO) that one of its judges, Mary Berry (whose daughter I once wrote a database for), is to become Queen of Britain should the current monarch pass away.

Auguste was so inspired by the opening episode last week that he went straight into the kitchen and drank a bottle of cooking sherry before anyone knew what was happening. Once we sobered him up, he ‘helped’ the Snail make some delicious Millionaire’s Shortbread. Here’s the evidence:

Mixing it upMixing it up

Making the baseMaking the base

Base Jumping (er, Food Hygiene issue, surely?)Base Jumping (er, Food Hygiene issue, surely?)

Eating the Condensed Milk - Auguste!!Eating the Condensed Milk – Auguste!!

Checking the RecipeChecking the Recipe

Pouring on the CaramelPouring on the Caramel

Mmm... chocolateMmm… chocolate

The Final Product - delicious!The Final…

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