Cooking From: Blackberry & Custard Biscuits (Sweet by Ottolenghi)

Confession time! The actual recipe in Sweet (by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh) is for Rhubarb & Custard Biscuits and, whilst I’m sure they are utterly delicious, it just isn’t the season for rhubarb. I’ll be making them for sure next spring, but for now we’re using the very much in season (and very foragable, unless you live in London!) blackberry. We actually bought blacberries in our weekly shop, expecting the first weekend of September to be cool enough for a crumble – wrong. The heatwave made a brief (albeit slightly cooler) reappearance and so biscuits it was.

 photo Blackberry Custard Biscuits_zpsox78ji5s.jpgAnd what delicious biscuits they are. Sweet custardy biscuits, made with Bird’s custard powder so that they taste of my childhood. Tart homemade blackberry jam, beaten into buttercream and used to sandwich the biscuits. It all combines beaitfully, with the vanilla-sweetness tempering down the sharpness of the berries. It tastes like a bowl of crumble and custard, but it’s far easier to eat. Almost too easy, as the batch disappeared rather quickly…

And the other recipes in this cookbook are just as good, though I confess we’ve used it very sparingly over the year. It aims to “bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings – including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom – to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.” It certainly delivers, and in part that’s why we’ve not used this book as much as I’d like. Quite a few recipes seem to request more unusual ingredients, or use a more time consuming method, and quite often we bake as a random, spur-of-the-moment decision. Having tried this recipe, however, I know I need to make more of an effort to thumb through and use it more.

There are around 100 recipes, and a lot of them are very original – you’re not going to find basic brownies. Instead there’s brownies laced with tahini and halva – and as soon as I can find some halva I’ll be making them. There might not be your usual choc-chip cookies, but there are “Chocolate O Cookies” which are said to be the ultimate homemade Oreo. There’s a coffee and cardamon pound cake which sounds delicious. There’s several cheesecake recipes, many desserts we’d prepare for a dinner party (I’ve genuinely already started planning a feast for our next New Year’s Eve dinner – despite not having any guests yet!). Whilst we’ve not really used this, I can imagine it will be a book that will become well-thumbed over the years. Now I just need to get hold of some of Ottolenghi’s savoury cookbooks…

 photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 15_zpssfwr42xd.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 12_zpsqspu1gi6.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 18_zpsonjwyria.jpgRecipe (makes around 15)

  • 175g flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 65g custard powder
  • 65g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 170g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the icing: 1 small stick of rhubarb (or 2 handfuls of blackberries – roughly 70g of fruit), 65g unsalted butter, 130g icing sugar, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice

If you making the rhubarb icing: spread pieces of rhubarb on tray and roast at 180C for 30 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven and cool, then puree in food processor before adding butter. Add icing sugar and lemon juice and continue to process for a few minutes until it thickens. Transfer to a small bowl and let sit in the fridge to firm up. To make our blackberry filling, we popped the blackberries in a small pan with a tiny splash of water and simmered until soft, pureed, passed through a sieve to remove the pips, and then added butter and continued as per the recipe.

For the cookies, cream the butter with the flour, custard powder, icing sugar and salt on low speed til the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds until a dough forms. Roll dough into balls about 3cm round – they should weigh about 15g. Place on lined trays about 4cm apart. Dip the back prongs of a small fork in the extra flour and then press firmly but gently into the back of each ball so that the cookie flattens. Bake at 170C on lined baking trays for about 25 minutes, let cool on trays for about 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble, spread 15g of icing on the flat side of a cookie and sandwich with the flat side of another. The forked sides should be facing out. Store in an airtight container if you manage not to eat them immediately.

 photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 8_zpsajnh5wwy.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 20_zps78yop1qu.jpgThese we found were the perfect afternoon snack for a weekend. Lovely with a cup of tea (I’m favouring Yorkshire’s Biscuit Brew at the moment), they were light, sweet and had a really comforting taste coming from the custard powder. The biscuits really melted in the mouth too! I’m looking forward to next year’s rhubarb season when I can try the full recipe…

Have you tried any of Ottolenghi’s books? Which do you recommend? 

Recipe: Ginger & Lime Biscuits

Every year I say I want to do a GBBO Bake Along. Every year I fail. This year I’ve gotten part of the way. Whilst I haven’t managed to bake and blog along (hats off to those that have!), I have managed to be pretty good at baking something inspired by the show most weeks.

 photo Ginger Lime Biscuits_zpsysaa6606.pngThis bake is a bit of a mish-mash between the first two weeks; it coincided with moving week, and with baking bits all over the country it seemed like a good idea to skip the first week. We then decided to merge the slightly citrus tone from Week 1 into the Biscuits. The result was a wonderfully spicy gingerbread, with warmth from cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, half covered with a zingy-sweet lime icing. The bake of the biscuit was pretty much spot on, crunchy, a good snap, but not something that was so brittle it hurt to take a bite. A mish-mash that worked, I reckon these Ginger & Lime biscuits would, messy icing aside, definitely impress Paul & Mary!

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 7_zpsz61gxcoz.jpg photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 1_zpso8yocuyp.jpg photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 3_zpsbydqrlw5.jpgIngredients

  • 125g flour, plus a little extra for rolling
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 60g butter
  • 85g soft brown sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 6tsp lime juice
  • Lime zest, to decorate

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 9_zpstufppxja.jpgSift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a bowl. Add the butter and rub together until the mix looks a little like breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the flour mix and stir until the mixture holds together. Tip the dough out, knead for a short time until smooth, wrap in clingfim and chill in the fridge for 15 or so minutes.

Roll the dough out (0.5cm thickness) on a lightly floured surface. Cut out your chosen shapes (we went square, you could go traditional gingerbread men!) and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 14-16 minutes at 175C, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

When cooled make the icing and decorate. Simply beat together the icing sugar and lime juice until smooth, pipe/spoon onto the biscuits and scatted over the zest. Leave to set before boxing up – I didn’t and had a bit of a sticky mess the next day!

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 6_zpsozctiwdc.jpgI found these Ginger & Lime biscuits were delicious served with a cuppa – I really enjoyed taking one (or two!) to work for my 4pm pick me up. Naughty, but really rather nice…

Have you enjoyed #GBBO2016? Has it inspired you to get baking?

Baking: Peanut Butter Cookies

I looovvveeee peanut butter. I’m sure you have noticed by now! Peanut Butter Cups are my idea of perfection, B&J’s were certainly thinking of me when they brought out that flavour! Craving some right now as I type…

 photo e89e1b60-d10e-493d-a321-1471c82a6fc1_zps21f3fc95.jpgThis is such a simple recipe, so quick, and the result is utterly delicious. The quantities made a huge amount, filling my biscuit tin and lasting for a good week. My boyfriend then visited and they disappeared a whole lot quicker, which says a lot about how good this recipe actually is.

 photo dbeaf0a3-a045-435e-8718-a32103a5b245_zps91183892.jpgI’ve adapted it from this year’s GBBO book, a birthday present from the lovely Libby. It’s now completely suitable for when your cupboard is empty of most ingredients. Polenta is a bit of a luxury I admit, but I love it for scattering over chicken wings or, in this case, adding crunch to biscuits. Its not overly expensive, so worth having some tucked away for biscuit cravings!

 photo 821cb269-d292-4cbc-8075-80e98a6b7e41_zps020dc610.jpgIngredients

  • 1 jar peanut butter – around 300g
  • 125g sugar (I used standard granulated)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of polenta

 photo a6c3b395-83ef-4602-81f4-5cb44076c864_zps1233f6e3.jpgI told you this recipe was super simple – here we go. Mix your p-butter and sugar together until fully combined, and slightly fluffy. Crunchy peanut butter works really well, but it’s harder to beat properly. I prefer to work hard with the elbow grease, I figure it burns off the calories of at least one extra biscuit…

 photo 23832948-23a2-40f6-80ed-0b27f16f2d97_zps9d9f835b.jpgStir through your egg, followed by your polenta.

 photo 57cc7074-0d08-4ffc-a551-00575a0f5d42_zps1cd6ae63.jpg photo 467fdcaf-8649-47d7-8d8a-5af09e8ccae0_zps2607d37c.jpgRoll into small (large marble sized) balls and spread out on a lined baking tray. Dipping a fork in warm water between each, flatten out. Bake at 180 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack until cold.

 photo 3214a376-de96-4355-bf36-abbbe1c7765d_zpsde97d3ef.jpgPerfect with a cup of tea, dipped into a hot chocolate, or scoffed out of the tin. The original recipe calls for sandwiching them with jam, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. Delicious just the way they are!

PS – apologies for no Wednesday post this week. My Christmas party kinda took it out of me – it was a conference followed by lunch, but the food wasn’t served until 4:45. Needless to say I was hungry and feeling pretty dreadful by the time I headed out of London! I spent last night napping and trying not to snack as it’s really screwed up my eating pattern. Yep, I had to get up and eat at 3am Wednesday morning as I had had such a late lunch, then not eaten dinner. These biscuits were needed then!

Are you a fan of peanut butter? Will you be trying out this easy recipe?