Biscuits make me nervous…. There, I’ve said it. I don’t mean eating them (that’s utterly impossible) but it’s the making of them. I tried to make cookies years ago & baked them for too long until they were way past crunchy! I just couldn’t understand how you know when they’re done, especially when you’re cooking dark chocolatey ones!
Things happily changed for me a few weeks ago when the lovely Jo Blogs Jo Bakes posted a fab picture of some dinosaur biscuits. I’d never had biscuit envy until then! They just looked so beautiful and I knew I had to at least try making them. Jo very kindly told me that she was using a biscuit recipe by Pamela Giles from her book Brilliant Biscuits . Jo was raving about this book and how fantastic the recipes were that I downloaded it immediately. I’ve discovered that if someone who’s blog I follow recommends a book or a product I will inevitably buy it because I love how passionate they are about the things I also love.
I started whizzing through the introduction and was immediately struck with how straight forward Pamela wrote. She explains clearly what is essential to start you off on your biscuit adventure and what you can add later. I couldn’t wait to get started and knew that Wee Food Adventurer would be a very willing taster!
Now, I’m no artist (and that doesn’t mean I’ll be baking anything worthy of a Great British Bake Off creation and pass it off as some kind of fluke…. Hey, I can’t even cut in a straight line!!) but I figured some cookie cutters from the fabulous Iced Jems would be just what I was after so I ordered a few to add to my existing (ever growing) collection and I was on my way to starting my very own biscuit adventure!
I decided to start off with a chocolate biscuit recipe & use my very cute Dinosaur Cookie Cutter
INGREDIENTS : Makes 30-40 biscuits, depending on the size of cutter you use
60g / 2oz Cocoa
290g / 10oz Plain Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
100g / 3 1/2oz Softened Butter
60g / 2oz Caster Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
140g / 5oz Golden Syrup
- In a large bowl, weigh out the 60g of cocoa and the 290g of plain flour then add the 1/2tsp of baking powder and stir together.
- In a separate bowl, thoroughly cream the 100g of softened butter and the 60g of caster sugar until the mixture is pale and creamy. You can do this by hand if you want to work up a sweat or a hand mixer!
- Next add the egg yolk and mix really well until combined. Now add your 140g of golden syrup and mix again until combined (if you are using a hand mixer then set it to a medium speed).
- Sift in your dry ingredients (which you have measured out already) and mix SLOWLY!! Ideally cover the bowl with a tea towel to prevent it going everywhere! I found that by mixing by hand to start with then completing with a hand mixer was a great way to do it without causing too much mess. As soon as the flour and cocoa are well blended into the mix and the dough starts to clump, then it’s time to stop mixing.
- Tip the dough onto your work surface and then press your dough into two flattish round lumps. Wrap them in cling film and place in the fridge for around 20 minutes to firm the dough up, or until you are ready to cut & bake.
- Around 10 minutes before you take your dough out of the fridge, preheat your oven to 180c / 170 fan / 350F / Gas Mark 4.
- Take your doughs out of the fridge one at a time and sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with a little flour (to prevent sticking). In the corner of your surface place a small pile of flour. This can be used to dip your cutter in, again to prevent sticking.
- Roll out your dough evenly to roughly 5mm, it doesn’t have to be exact, but it does have to be level.
- You are now ready to cut!!! Use whatever shapes or sizes you wish and then pull the dough away from the shapes you’ve made rather than trying to pull it out. I learned the hard way & couldn’t work out why my lovely designs were pulling out of shape! Then, gently lift them up with a palette knife and place on your lined baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 10-14 minutes, or until the edges of the biscuit have darkened a little. This will still be obvious with dark coloured biscuits. Once baked, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
HINTS & TIPS
- I used baking parchment paper to bake my biscuits on, it means you can just slide the paper off and onto the cooling rack.
- You can store your biscuits, once completely cooled, in an airtight container for up to three weeks (mine never last anywhere near that due to the rate they are consumed!)
- Try not to re-roll the dough too many times as it can get too tough.
- Bare in mind that different sized biscuits will bake at different times so think about putting same sized biscuits together on a tray.
- If you are baking these for children, then Pamela suggests reducing the cocoa to 50g / 1 3/4oz and then increasing the plain flour to 300g so the combined amount is still 350g. Because you’ve reduced the cocoa, you can, if you wish, increase the sugar from 60g / 2oz to 70g / 2 1/2oz.
I made these after doing some research online and decided to use two plain round cutters (2in & 2 1/2in) & a wooden skewer, the type you’d use on a BBQ
Once you’ve rolled your dough out, use the larger cutter and cut out your shapes and place on your tray. Then take your smaller cutter and VERY gently press into the centre of your dough circle. Pressing too hard will cause you to cut right through the dough. Next take your skewer, or something similar, and make two or four wee holes to create your “button”. Ensure you make a hole big enough if you plan to use string to tie them up.
There’s no need to be polite, I know my icing won’t be giving Mary Berry sleepless nights any time soon, but to be honest my Wee Food Adventurer is only two and a half and isn’t going to stand there thinking “hmmmmmmm….. I’m not convinced the dinosaur’s eye should be there”, so give it a go. This was my very first attempt at icing so I make no apologies! I decided to use some Sainsbury’s Writing Icing. I discovered very quickly that you don’t drag it along like you were writing with a pen, but to hold it slightly above the biscuit and let the icing follow the outline of the biscuit. It’s all about practising and just remember that any biscuits you’re not happy can be written off (i.e., eaten). Pamela’s book has a ridiculous amount of tips on this (I wish I’d read this section before starting to be honest!).
So there you have it! Pamela’s book is full of fantastic ideas and designs from Christmas and Halloween to Vintage Tea Party and the very fabulous Biscuit Laboratory! Enjoy making them and eating them and if there’s any left, sharing them!
Melanie, Food Adventurer