Cakes & Bakes: Cranberry almond biscotti

Home-made cranberry almond biscotti with cup of coffee | H is for Home #recipe #biscotti #baking #biscuits

Are you a biscuit dunker? I’ve never been one for dipping my biscuits into hot liquid. However, these cranberry almond biscotti have made me change my ways!

Wet & dry cranberry almond biscotti ingredients | H is for Home

I’ve seen biscotti being produced on the Great British Bake Off but I’ve never tried my hand at making a batch.

Cranberry almond biscotti dough in a cake tin | H is for Home

Biscotti are Italian, twice-baked almond biscuits usually served with Vin Santo – a dessert wine from the same region of Tuscany. It’s this liquid that you dip your biscuit into before eating – I’ve only tried it with coffee so far – but give me time!

Baked cranberry almond biscotti | H is for Home

The traditional recipe is flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts and almonds. However, there are updated versions that include an array of ingredients such as dried fruit, hazelnuts, pistachios, spices, lemon, coffee and chocolate.

Sliced cranberry almond biscotti | H is for Home

Biscotti is the plural of biscotto but I’ve never heard that term in my life. Perhaps it’s because it’s impossible to eat just one!

Knives between cranberry almond biscotti slices | H is for Home

Researching recipes, I discovered that there is such a thing as a biscotti tin. I don’t think I’ll be making biscotti often enough to warrant getting one – I used my 18cm/7-inch square brownie tin and it was more than adequate at tackling the job.

Cranberry almond biscotti cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

For its second bake, I sliced and transferred the cranberry almond biscotti on to a baking sheet and used stainless steel knives (don’t use knives with wood or plastic handles) to prop them up on their sides.

Home-made cranberry almond biscotti in a glass biscuit jar | H is for Home

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest!

Cranberry almond biscotti
Yields 15
Ingredients
  1. 70g/2½oz butter, melted
  2. 135g/4¾oz granulated sugar
  3. ½tsp salt
  4. 2tsp baking powder
  5. 2tsp vanilla extract
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 120g/4oz plain flour
  8. 120g/4oz semolina flour
  9. 115g/4oz dried cranberries
  10. 115g/4oz chopped almondsHome-made cranberry almond biscotti ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/ Gas mark 4
  2. Grease a biscotti pan or large baking sheet
  3. Stir together the melted butter, sugar, salt and baking powder
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract and then the eggs
  5. Blend in the flours, cranberries and almonds
  6. Place into the prepared biscotti pan, leaving a 2cm/¾-inch margin free on each side of the pan, to allow for expansion. If you're using a baking sheet, form the dough into a flattened log about 28 x 10cm (10½ x 4 inches).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour
  8. Slice on the diagonal into 4cm/½-inch thick pieces. Place them back on the baking sheet, standing them on edge if you can; this will ensure they bake evenly
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC/325°F/Gas mark 3 and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden
  10. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a wire rack
  11. They can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks
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Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

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

Soul cakes
Yields 20
Cook Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz butter
  2. 175g/6oz caster sugar
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. 450g/1lb plain flour
  5. 1tsp ground mixed spice
  6. A little milk to mix (I used about 4 tbsps)soul cakes ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl and then beat in the egg yolks one at a time
  3. Sift the flour and the spice into another bowl then add to the butter mixture
  4. Stir in the currants and add milk if necessary to form a soft dough
  5. Form the dough into flat cakes and mark each with a cross
  6. Put on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown
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Adapted from A Calendar of Feasts: Cattern Cakes and Lace
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

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

Gypsy Creams
Yields 12
Cook Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
For the biscuit dough
  1. 100g/4oz butter
  2. 90g/3oz golden syrup
  3. 50g/2oz caster sugar
  4. 50g/2oz porridge oats
  5. 10g/½oz cocoa powder
  6. 175g/6oz plain flour
For the buttercream
  1. 150g/5oz icing sugar
  2. 50g/2oz butter, softened
  3. 1tbsp milk
  4. 50g/2oz dark chocolate, meltedHome-made gypsy creams ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Set aside
  3. In a large saucepan, place the butter, syrup & sugar melting gently over a low heat, stirring to combine
  4. Sift the flour together with the cocoa powder before adding the oats to the mixture
  5. Add these dry ingredients to the saucepan and mix together well
  6. Leave to cool slightly
  7. Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and roll each into a ball between your palms
  8. Place on the baking sheet leaving room between each biscuit
  9. Flatten each ball slightly using the back of a fork
  10. Bake for approximately 20 minutes
  11. Using a palette knife, transfer the biscuits on to a wire rack to cool completely
For the buttercream
  1. While the biscuits are baking/cooling make the buttercream filling
  2. Put the icing sugar, butter, milk and chocolate into a mixing bowl and combine until smooth
  3. Spoon ½tsp of buttercream on to a biscuit and sandwich together with another biscuit
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/