Cakes & Bakes: Butter-dipped biscuits

Home-made butter-dipped biscuits with fried egg | H is for Home

We absolutely love our butter in this household, it’s quite alarming how much of the stuff two people get through! With all the bread and cake baking, it’s not surprising, really.

Dry ingredients for butter-dipped biscuits | H is for Home

When I saw this butter-licious, American butter-dipped biscuits recipe on Pinterest my mouth immediately started watering.

Melted butter and butter-dipped biscuits dough | H is for Home

It may look like a lot of butter but it isn’t really – a mere 113 grams (that’s how much is in an American ‘stick’ of butter). Anyway, it’s been decided by all those hugely intelligent scientists that butter isn’t bad for you!

Uncooked butter-dipped biscuits | H is for Home

You’ve probably noticed from the photos that it’s not anything like what the average British person would call a ‘biscuit’. American biscuits are what we over here might refer to as scones (whether you pronounce it to rhyme with ‘gone’ or ‘bone’).

Freshly baked butter-dipped biscuits | H is for Home

I had one with a fried egg (as you can see in the main photo), and another with some mature cheddar. I must say, I’m not used to having savoury food with a sweet bread product – it took a bit of getting used to, but I’d definitely be making them again.

Freshly baked butter-dipped biscuits detail | H is for Home

If you’re not vegetarian like me, try them with chilli con carne, sausages, bacon & eggs – especially if the meats are sweet-cured or maple-glazed. Or, have it like the Americans do, with even more butter as a side to a main course dish and/or with gravy!

Click here or on the image below to pin the recipe for later!

Home-made butter-dipped biscuits recipe | H is for Home

Butter-dipped biscuits
Yields 6
Ingredients
  1. 113g/4oz salted butter
  2. 300g/10½oz plain flour
  3. 1½ tbsp granulated sugar
  4. 1½ tbsp baking powder
  5. 250g/9oz buttermilkHome-made butter-dipped biscuits ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/ gas mark 8
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl (or the dish the biscuits are being cooked in if it's microwave-safe) melt the butter in the microwave
  3. Put the melted butter into an 20cmx20cm/8"x8" baking dish
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder
  5. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until a loose dough forms
  6. Pour the biscuit dough into the baking dish (on top of the melted butter.) Some of the butter will run over the top of the dough, that's perfectly fine
  7. Cook for 20-25 minutes (rotating the dish 180º once during baking) - the biscuits should be golden brown on top and spring back to the touch
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Adapted from The Country Cook
Adapted from The Country Cook
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Shortbread rounds, three ways

Home-made shortbread rounds with mug of tea | H is for Home

Whenever the biscuit stash in our store cupboard reaches critical levels there are normally two obvious options to remedy the situation. Firstly, I can whip out a pre-made refrigerator cookie dough roll from the freezer. Alternatively, if the frozen stock is depleted, I can whip up a quick batch of shortbread.

Vintage wooden shortbread round mould | H is for Home

Justin bought me this vintage wooden biscuit mould a few weeks ago, so it was a great opportunity to use it for the first time to make some shortbread rounds.

Home-made shortbread round with vintage biscuit mould sprinkled with semolina | H is for Home

We think the mould might be Indian so we’ve added a few spices in homage – cardamom, ginger and vanilla.

Three home-made shortbread rounds on a tray lined with parchment paper | H is for Home

The swirl pattern it makes is just beautiful – I needed to sprinkle some polenta into the mould so the dough didn’t stick and it also helped with the definition.

Three home-made shortbread rounds cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

We liked all three flavours. And it has to be said that, if we hadn’t been trying to think of suitable Indian spices for biscuits, we probably would never have tried cardamom shortbread – yet we both thought that it was very successful. I’ll definitely be making these again soon!

Click here to save the recipe for later!

Shortbread rounds, three ways
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz/¾ cup plain flour
  2. 50g/2oz/½ cup cornflour
  3. 50g/2oz/¼ caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  4. 115g/4oz/½ cup butter, chopped
  5. 1 cardamom seed, removed from the pod and ground
  6. ¼ tsp vanilla essence
  7. ¼ tsp ground gingerHome-made shortbread ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3. Lightly flour the mould with semolina (or plain flour if you don't have it) and line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper
  2. Sift the flour, cornflour and sugar into a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour & sugar mixture until it binds together and you can knead it into a soft dough
  3. Divide the dough into thirds (130g/4½oz each) and gently knead the ground cardamom into one, vanilla into the next and ground ginger into the last
  4. One by one, place each ⅓ of dough into the mould and press to fit neatly and evenly. Invert the mould on to the baking sheet using your fingers if necessary to gently to release the dough shape
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pale golden in colour
  6. Sprinkle the top of the shortbread with a little caster sugar and cool on a baking sheet
  7. Cut the rounds into 'petticoat tails' whilst still warm
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Viennese fingers

Home-made Viennese fingers | H is for Home

Making these Viennese fingers made me realise just how poor my piping skills are! 🙂

Piping Viennese fingers on to baking sheet lined with parchment paper | H is for Home

Not just that, but also a reminder of how cold our kitchen is – it’s a rubbish environment for doing things things like proving bread and sourdough starter. The biscuit dough cooled and hardened inside the piping bag making it a nightmare to squeeze out through the nozzle. My first batch was a disaster! I piped them out to the 10cm that was stated in the recipe but they seemed way too long. They were also too thin and weedy. My second batch were better, I piped them to 5cm and the dough was beginning to warm up a little so flowed more smoothly. But I still have to put in some more practice.

Viennese fingers cooked and cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

As well as dunking the Viennese fingers in chocolate, you can dip them into chopped mixed nuts or dessicated coconut. But take care when you’re doing it – these are so crumbly they break easily (as I found out quite a few times).

Viennese fingers being dipped in chocolate, chopped nuts and dessicated coconut | H is for Home

Next time I make them, I’ll have a go at sandwiching two fingers together with layers of vanilla buttercream and my mixed berry jelly.

Home-made Viennese fingers and vintage tea set | H is for Home

Having mentioned a few problems, the resulting biscuits were both pretty and delicious. We’ll have to have a few delicate afternoon tea breaks this week!

Viennese fingers
Ingredients
  1. 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
  2. 25g/1oz icing sugar
  3. 1tsp vanilla extract
  4. 100g/3½oz plain flour
  5. 1tsp cornflour
  6. ¼tsp baking powder
  7. 100g/3½oz milk chocolate, choppedHome-made Viennese fingers ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
  2. Tip the butter and sugar into the bowl of a free-standing mixer and beat until pale and light
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix again
  4. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the bowl and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined
  5. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle and pipe 5cm-long fingers onto the prepared baking tray. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until pale golden
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes
  7. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack until completely cold
  8. Tip the milk chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt either in the microwave on a low setting or over a pan of barely simmering water
  9. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth
  10. Dip both ends of the Viennese fingers into the chocolate and leave to set on baking parchment
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Adapted from A Passion for Baking
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Macadamia nut & cranberry cookies

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies | H is for Home

I keep forgetting how quick and easy it is to rustle up a batch of cookies. I have a bag of pistachios in the cupboard that needs to be used up, so I decided to make some pistachio & cranberry cookies using a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website.

Chopped macadamia nuts ans dried cranberries | H is for Home

However, when I popped across to the supermarket to get some dried cranberries, I saw that they also did packets of cranberries WITH macadamia nuts.

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookie dough batons | H is for Home Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookie dough batons wrapped in cling film | H is for Home

I love macadamia nuts – a little on the expensive side, but you don’t need that many in the macadamia nut & cranberry cookies I ended up making.

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies, uncooked on a baking tray | H is for Home

They were just so scrumptious! Crumbly, sweet and nutty. A few chunks of white chocolate added to the mix would have gone down a treat as well. I’ll try that combination very soon. I guess I’ll use that bag of pistachios some other time!

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies on a wire cooling rack | H is for Home

Cakes & Bakes: Gypsy Creams

Home-made gypsy creams | H is for Home

We needed some treats for our biscuit barrel so that was the subject for today’s Cakes & Bakes… but which kind of biscuit?

Butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan | H is for Home Gypsy creams dough mixture | H is for Home

Justin started reminiscing about Gypsy Creams – and commenting on the fact that they seem to have disappeared from the shops. I have to admit that growing up in Trinidad, I’d never heard of Gypsy Creams – but they certainly sounded good enough to try.

Gypsy creams dough balls | H is for Home Gypsy creams dough balls flattened with the back of a fork | H is for Home

My numerous baking books didn’t offer a single recipe, but fortunately I found one available online.

They incorporate flour, butter, oats, golden syrup and most importantly chocolate. Two crisp biscuity layers sandwich a moist chocolate buttercream layer.

Gypsy creams biscuits cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Apparently coconut can be added to the recipe too. These are often called Romany Creams, but Justin thinks that the packet Gypsy Creams from his youth had something ‘coconutty’ about them.

Making chocolate buttercream | H is for Home

I have to say that they’re absolutely delicious – and are now a firm favourite of mine having missed out for nearly 50 years!

Home-made gypsy creams | H is for Home

Cakes & Bakes: Elderflower shortbread

Home-made elderflower shortbread petticoat tails | H is for Home

It’s elderflower season again – one of the classic smells and tastes of summer!

Sprigs of elderflowers infusing into caster sugar | H is for Home

We see those frothy white flowers growing wild all around and can’t bear to see them going to waste.

Antique shortbread mould floured with polenta | H is for Home

We’ve already made a large batch of elderflower cordial which will last us a good few months. In the past, there’s also been elderflower champagne and elderflower cakes too. This week, we decided to try some biscuits – elderflower shortbread to be precise.

Home-made elderflower shortbread round prior to being cooked | H is for Home

There are various methods for incorporating the flowers’ flavour into the biscuit. We experimented with three – using cordial as one of the ingredients, infusing the sugar with elderflower bunches and finally incorporating the tiny petals into the biscuit mix itself.

Home-made

We found that cordial made the biscuits a bit hard, crystalline and possibly too sweet. The infused sugar runs the risk of lots of creepy crawlies escaping into the sugar (even if you shake carefully) – and the resulting elderflower flavour wasn’t intense enough for us. The last technique worked best for us – by quite a long way actually, so that would be our recommendation. The resulting shortbread was moist and crumbly with a wonderful distinctive flavour – give them a go before those flowers disappear!