Real life. Real talk.
Valentine's Day is approaching.
I saw you just then. Groaning over your computer screen. Chill your beans, little one. I am not going to get all up in your face about Valentines. That would just be annoying. I do, however, love what Kinsey says about Valentines. I see it as an excuse to do a random act of kindness. Reach out to someone who might be feeling lonely and say, hey, you. You're actually really cool and cute. Do you want a handmade biscuit. The answer is yes. Always yes. So, I say, spread the love. And why not spread it with JAM.
One of my goals for 2013 was to try and cook something from my Good HouseKeeping book every month. In January, I made this madeira cake which went down a treat in our family. Truth been told, I've made cakes before. I've been there. I wasn't a complete beginner. Shock horror.
Biscuits is another story. I am a biscuit fiend. Being such a lover of tea, there is nothing quite like a brew's partner in crime. The biccy. However, when it comes to baking them, all my previous efforts have been somewhat unsuccessful. This time I was determined. I came to the kitchen armed with my Good Housekeeping book, oven mittens and a rolling pin. Ready to face whatever this challenge was going to through at me.
Behold the retro pages above! Oh, how I could simply browse the pages all day long.
Okay, let's crack on. Enough of this flapping, let's get down to business (and defeat the hun)... Seriously now, let's get going before I jump into a Disney medley.
Makes ten biscuits
6oz plain flour
A twist of salt
2oz caster sugar
A generous splash of vanilla essence
Preheat your oven. Do it now. Before it's too late. Before you forget. About 180 will do.
Weigh out all the ingredients and chuck them all in a big mixing bowl. I say chuck. I actually chuck. I don't know how anything I make ever works, I'm so 'devil may care' about my recipes and I know you're meant to be all scientific about baking. I'm just not. I use pre-salted butter and things like that. Who am I?
After you've finished have a breakdown over who and what you are doing in life, mix the ingredients with your finger tips until you have a kind of crumbly mixture. This is where I panicked and added more butter because it felt like it wasn't going to work. This made my dough sticky when I began to roll and I had to faff around adding more flour. Have faith in Good Housekeeping! They know what they are doing.
Sprinkle flour onto your work surface and put your mixture in a clump on top. Begin to roll the dough flat.
Then with a large cookie cutter, cut out your biscuit shapes. Every other biscuit, use a smaller cutter to cut the middle out. I used a small star. You could use a heart. Or another circle. Or a letter. Or... the list goes on, my friend. Get imaginative. I suggest you lift the biscuit off the surface and place it lightly down again before cutting out the centre, just to ease removal the second time. Trust me on this, there will be a lot of breakages if you don't. But it's okay. You can take your time. Just put it back in the pile of dough and roll again if things go wrong. This isn't televised. This isn't MasterChef. Michel Roux Jr. isn't breathing down your neck. Unless he is. Turn around now, he's behind you!
... Got you.
Tomfoolery aside, place your biscuits on greaseproof paper in an oven proof tray and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. This is where I have always gone wrong. I am so prone to burning my biscuits. I actually sat and watched them this time. I checked the timer on my phone every 30 seconds. Paranoid much? But it worked for me. I recommend you make the biscuits with the hole in the centre thicker than the plain ones as they cook a bit faster. Or you could be organised and put them on separate trays, putting the plain biscuits on the top shelf of the oven and holey biscuits on the bottom shelf. Wow. It just got technical in here.
When you take them out the oven, wait for them to cool. I know you want to eat them now. Organise some restraint, girl!
Finally, when they are cool, spread a layer of jam on the top of the plain biscuit and sandwich the starry one on top. Quite easily done, as my GCSE maths teacher used to say after teaching us how to solve algebra. This is easier than Pythagoras.
I used some fancy Bonne Maman. The only problem was it has some super chunky strawberry pieces in it which are not ideal for these biscuits. Although, perfect for toast. Your jam, your choice. Or go for something else, raspberry, blueberry, marmalade. Or lemon curd. Ooo, that would be awesome...
I then spread the love by sharing the biscuits with my friends, giving them out in cute little tins which were simply made for biscuits. Well, at least I think they were.
These biscuits are possibly one of my proudest achievements! I so hope you liked this post and feel inspired to cook also. I must admit I'm an absolute disastrous chef but I'm getting there! Practise makes perfect.
Some dancing tunes for you to bake to: