Monday, 29 September 2014

Anzac Biscuits

Have you ever tried these deliciously classic Australian biscuits?  Apparently, they were originally named for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, being sent out by wives and mothers to serving soldiers overseas.   I imagine they would keep quite well, and they are made of everyday household ingredients, but no eggs.

I've just come back from a holiday to Australia, where these iconic biscuits are widely available.  I'm sure that the original recipe has mutated slightly, and I made these ones with rice flour, so they are gluten free, and soft brown sugar as it seemed to be more suitable for rugged Australian biscuits!

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Biscuits

3oz/85g desiccated coconut
3oz/85g rolled oats
3.5oz/100g plain flour (or rice flour)
3.5oz100g sugar (I used soft brown sugar)
3.5oz100g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C and put baking parchment on two to three baking trays.    In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, oats, flour and sugar.   Melt the butter and syrup together in the microwave.   Put the boiling water into a cup and drop in the bicarbonate of soda.  Pour this fizzing mixture into the butter/syrup mix and stir.

Stir the butter and syrup mixture into the dry ingredients, and keep stirring until it is all mixed in.   Allowing space to spread, put gently heaped dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays (I worked on about 6 per tray).   Bake for 8 minutes or so until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and leave the biscuits on the parchment for a few minutes so that they stiffen before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.  It is easier to put them in in batches, but don't forget the last one...

This makes about 26 biscuits, by no means identical! 

Friday, 12 September 2014

One-Crust Blackberry and Apple Pie

Rustic pies are a gift to the rushed cook!  The idea of simply wrapping your chosen fruit in some pastry and slinging it into the oven works for me, every time (and sometimes I don't bother to chill the pastry either!).   Inspired by Delia Smith's gooseberry version, this is made from home grown apples and hedgerow blackberries.   The photo below isn't particularly brilliant, because the pie was so hot it steamed the lens of the camera, but husbands and sons have a very short fuse when it comes to waiting for a hot pud!   This pudding is perfect for windfall fruit, as it doesn't have to be perfect....

One Crust Blackberry and Apple Pie

One Crust Blackberry and Apple Pie

6oz/175g plain flour
Pinch of salt
3oz/75g butter, chilled (or spread, so it becomes dairy free)

1 ½ lb/700g fruit – approx. 4 cooking apples plus 4oz/110g blackberries
3oz/75g soft light brown sugar

2 tablespoons semolina (not absolutely necessary!)
1 egg, separated
Demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C and preheat a baking sheet. 

Make the pastry either by hand (rubbing the fat into the flour, then adding the egg), or in a processor .   If it is too dry, add a little more water.  Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes (the recipe says 30-40).  

Prepare the fruit – peel, core and chop the apples, wash the blackberries.   Toss in the light brown sugar to give an even coat.   Roll out the pastry on a sheet of non-stick parchment to give a large circle about 5mm/1/4” thick.   Brush the base with the egg yolk and sprinkle with the semolina.  Arrange the fruits in the middle of the circle, leaving a border of about 8cm/3 inches.   Use the sides of the paper to help lift the pastry over the fruit, folding the sides up and around so the juice doesn’t leak out.   If it gets the odd hole, just patch it up.   Brush the pastry with the egg white and sprinkle the Demerara sugar over.  Lift the parchment and the pie onto the sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden – check after 30, and if the pastry is still not quite cooked and the top brown, put some foil over the top and let it cook for another 5 minutes or so. 

Serve hot, sprinkled with Demerara sugar and lashings of custard or ice cream! 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Buttermilk Cheese Scones

If you've never used buttermilk in scones, think again!  It gives a fabulous flavour to savoury scones, and helps make them rise into the bargain.  I made this batch for a coffee morning and they were a definite success.   I adore cheese scones, especially when they are straight from the oven, so it was fortunate that I did a double batch, or there wouldn't have been enough for more than two people!   Buttermilk seems to keep for ages, and you can ignore the "best before" date (sorry, everybody) with impunity.   As you can see from the photo, I'm not the greatest expert on perfect scones, but as long as they taste good, it really doesn't matter what they look like.  This recipe has extra cheese, which, with the buttermilk, added to the lightness.   You can make them with gluten-free flour.  Although they don't rise as well, they taste great.

Buttermilk Cheese Scones

Cheese Scones

8oz/225g plain flour  
2 ½ level tsps baking powder
½ level tsp salt
2oz/50g butter or margarine at room temperature
4oz/110g strong Cheddar cheese, grated, (use 1oz/25g for the tops)
¼ pint/5floz buttermilk, 
small quantity milk for the tops

Preheat the oven to 230 deg C. 

In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour until they look like breadcrumbs.  The best way to do this is to use only your fingertips, as lightly as possible, lifting the mixture as you rub it in to keep it airy.   Add 3oz/80g of the cheese and mix it in lightly.   Add the buttermilk and mix the dough together quickly until it makes a single lump.  

Turn it out onto a floured board and knead it very lightly before rolling it gently to about ½”/1.5cm thick - it helps if it is even, as otherwise you get lopsided scones (see photo!).   Before you start cutting out the scones, warm the baking tray in the oven.  Cut small scones using a plain cutter, then re-roll the remainder gently to use all the mixture.  The last scone is generally less appealing, but that's the cook's perk.   If you dip the cutter in flour, the scones won’t get stuck when you release them.   Also, try not to drag the cutter when cutting out, or the scones will be oval.   

Put the scones on the warm baking tray, brush with milk and sprinkle on the extra cheese.   Makes approx 12.

Bake for about 8 minutes until well risen and golden.  Eat with butter.   They are good cold, but you won’t ever have any left…