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

Peanut Butter & Jam Pinwheel Cookies

“A good old PB&J sandwich…in cookie form” from the Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home recipe book. The recipes requires smooth peanut butter but I used crunchy (as it was cheaper) and it gave the cookie a nice crunchy texture so I would recommend this.

What you need:

2oz smooth raspberry jamIMG_1823
1 tsp cornflour
3 1/2oz unsalted softened butter
3 1/2oz smooth peanut butter
6 1/2oz caster sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp whole milk
12oz plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt

What you do:

Prepare 2 pieces of grease proof paper approx 15 x 10″

In a small bowl mix the jam and cornflour into a smooth paste.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

Using a freestanding or electric mixer cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar.  Add the egg and milk, and mix.

Sift in the flour, salt and bicarb and mix on a slow speed until all combined until it forms a dough.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

Put the dough on one of the pieces of paper and flatten. Put the other paper on top and roll out to the edges.

Remove the top sheet and spread the jam over, leaving a gap around the edges.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

Using the paper to help, from the long edge, roll up the dough like a Swiss roll. This was actually quite a tricky procedure as the dough was sticking to the cling film and trying to roll it tight and make sure it wasn’t sticking was more difficult than rolling the baked sponge for the Swiss roll.

When you’ve managed to roll it, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge.

The recipe says chill overnight but I only had time to chill for a couple of hours but this was fine.

Preheat type oven to 170c, prepare 2-3 tines with some more grease proof paper.

Slice the dough into 2cm slices and space them out onto trays.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

Bake for approx 10-12minutes (although mine took more like 20) until golden brown.

These are nice served when warm but crisp up more like traditional biscuits when cold.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

Until next time….Happy Baking

Vanilla Sablés

I was looking for something simple as an accompaniment when I baked Blackcurrant Bakewell so I had a go at these Vanilla Sablés from my Great British Bake Off recipe book (page 78).

gbbo_fool_proof_recipes

“Very rich, crisp, sandy-textured biscuits, sablés are the French equivalent of shortbread.”

What you’ll need: IMG_1604

200g plain flour
Pinch of salt
75g icing sugar
140g unsalted butter, chilled & diced
3 medium free-range egg yolks
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
Beaten egg, to glaze

What you do:

Put the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and use a food processor to combine.

Vanilla Sables

Now, I don’t have a full on proper food processor but I do have a twenty-year-old hand mini blender thing and as my electric whisk died a death on me last week, beggars can’t be choosers! With a bit of perseverence it did the trick.

Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until it makes a firm ball.

Vanilla Sables

Remove from bowl and make into a disc shape approx 2.5cm thick, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 180°c.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out till approx 4mm, and cut out your dough shapes. Place them on your baking tray slightly apart.

Vanilla Sables

Brush lightly with the beaten egg and prick each round with a fork. Brush again with the egg.

Lightly score the tops in a cross shape with the side of a fork. Bake for approx 11 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool to firm up. Enjoy!

Vanilla Sables

 In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed with this recipe. It only asked for 3/4 tsp of vanilla, but as I like to taste it I added a little more, but even so, you couldn’t taste the vanilla. They were a bit bland. They had a nice shortbread/biscuit texture but no real definable taste.

Macarons

Inspired by episode 2 of this year’s Great British Bake Off, I had a go at baking Macarons. Macarons not to be confused with Macaroons, are a French meringue based made mostly from egg white and sugar and let me say they’re not as easy as it looks to make these meringuey treats.

(See http://pottymouthedmummy.com/5-moments-in-gbbo-that-make-my-husband-sigh-at-me/ for the difference between macarons and macaroons)

I found this macaron recipe over at About Food which seemed to be one of the easiest I’d seen. For info, I used half the amount of ingredients below and this made 6 Macarons.

What you’ll need:

For the Macarons:

100g icing sugar      IMG_1220
100g ground almonds
2 medium egg whites
Small pinch salt
55g caster sugar

For the filling:

150g unsalted butter
75g icing sugar

What you do:

The first thing I did was make a template on greaseproof paper, I used an egg cup as a guide.

IMG_1221Sieve the icing sugar and ground almonds into a mixing bowl, throw away any lumpy bits and mix together.

Macarons

In a separate clean bowl whisk the egg white and salt until they form soft peaks. If you want coloured macarons nows the time to add your colouring. I used food gel, not used this before but it seemed to do the same thing as the liquid type. Whisk until the whites are thick and glossy.

Macarons

Gently stir in the almond and sugar mix, the mixture will lose some air and height but this is the way is should be. Use a piping bag or equivalent! (notice my high end High Street purchase, the only thing I could get in a small town which was a total waste of time).

Macarons

Pipe or spoon (as I did in the end) onto the template small blobs, try not to overfill the circular template as the mixture spreads. Mine weren’t very even or of the same size but it didn’t matter too much.

Gently tap the baking sheet to help the mixture settle, then leave to dry for approx 20 minutes, the surface of the macaron will develop a skin and become glossy.

MacaronsBake the macarons for 7-8 minutes, then open the door to release any steam (I opened for 1 minute), then bake for a further 7-8 minutes. They’ll be cooked when they feel firm and have slightly risen.

Macarons

For the filling beat the butter until soft and fluffy then gradually beat in the icing sugar; add any flavouring that you may like. I added quite a few drops of vanilla essence. Place approx 1/2 teaspoon to the flat side of the macaron and sandwich together and twist slightly to make a bond.

They can be eaten straight away and kept for 24 hours. Personally, I found that refrigerating them overnight made the meringue soft so eat them all straight away 🙂

Macarons

 

 

Raspberry Crumble Shortbread

Following on from my previous baking post where I baked Very Berry Scones, here’s my next attempt at a recipe from the Great British Bake Off Everyday baking book which are proving quite popular!

gbbo_fool_proof_recipesMy next recipe challenge was Raspberry Crumble Shortbread (page 88)

Here are the ingredients:

For the shortbead:IMG_0327
220g unsalted butter, softened
30g icing sugar
80g caster sugar
30g cornflour
300g plain flour

325g good bought raspberry jam
50g flaked almonds
icing sugar for dusting

This is the first time I’ve made shortbread and all in all it turned out pretty well.

It isn’t a recipe that you can just chuck everything in all at once, there is a series of stages initially. Beat the butter, then add the icing sugar and mix, then add the caster sugar and mix, then the cornflour, then the flour and it now starts to mix to form a breadcrumby consistency like this:

IMG_0328

It then gets emptied into the tin, pressed down and pricked with a fork, keeping some of the mixture back for the ‘crumble’ part. I don’t have a ‘tray bake’ tin as was suggested in the book so I just used a loose bottom tin which worked just as well – if not better as it was easier to remove.

IMG_0330Into the oven for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes for stage 2 – adding the jam and the remainder of the crumble mix to the top of the shortbread and back in the oven for a further 20-25 minutes.

IMG_0331IMG_0332

 

 

 

 

 

Now I followed the recipe to the letter but it needed extra cooking time. It was in the oven for close to 40 minutes in order for the crumble top to turn golden brown but eventually I had the result.

IMG_0335 IMG_0336Remove from the tin and cut into portions.

 

 

 

I have to say, the shortbread was lovely but it wasn’t half a faff!