Category: Biscuit recipe

Why I don’t love shortbread (Part two)

Shortbread is a sticky subject!

So, yesterday I made shortbread biscuits. The reason I made them was to test that they would work as individual biscuits. I have had some shortbread nightmares recently when trying to do one big tray/mould bake.

My friend Astrid emailed me :
“ I’ve been trying to perfect my shortbread technique and it’s not going too badly (I find the rubbing technique works much better than creaming for me) but I wanted to use a mould I bought in a cook shop in Scotland and it’s not working: the dough sticks to the mould (it’s ceramic) and twice now I’ve had to scrape it off with a spatula, which defeats the object of having a patterned mould in the first place! Is there a different recipe I can use or a way of doing it so this doesn’t happen?”

So I set about finding a recipe that I thought would work best in a ceramic mould (I also treated myself to a cute Scottish Shortbread mould from Lakeland- thistles and all!) And used the shortbread recipe from yesterday which is here.

Round one

Grease the mould well

I used ‘Cake release’ which is a great non stick product (that I use with a lot of success with cakes) and applied it to the ceramic mould with a pastry brush so I could get into all the nooks and crannies.

Press the shortbread dough into the mould

To make the dough I used the rubbing method that Astrid used, popped it in the fridge for an hour then pressed it into mould.

The full mould

and baked it in the oven until it was a light golden brown colour.

Baked to perfection

But it didn’t work!  It got well and truly stuck. Even scraping won't get it out!

Round two

So, I tried again!
This time I blended the ingredients in the food mixer, creaming the butter and the sugar together before I added the dry ingredients. I chilled the dough overnight, greased the mould with butter and dusted it with plain flour, removing any excess.Butter and flour the mould
Then I rolled out the dough and pressed it into the mould lightly and baked it. Guess what? It got stuck again. It did taste good though – I tried to remove the shortbread  with a spatula and little pieces popped out. Don’t worry, none went to waste. It still won't come out!
 

Round three

Okay, so by now I was getting pretty annoyed. Why is it sticking? What am I doing wrong? I searched on Google and I messaged every Twitter foodie I could find. No one came up with any better ideas than the ones I had already tried. So I thought I’d go straight to the experts in baking equipment. I spoke to Lakeland direct!  Their advice was….

“Use a slightly lower heat and cook a little longer, to prevent sticking. The dough needs to be firmly pressed into the mould. It should be a toasty light brown when cooked. Be sure to let the shortbread cool in the pan before trying to remove.”

Well I decided I would give it one final shot using all their advice. And here’s the result!

I buttered the mould (or should I say caked it in butter?)

Rolled out the shortbread, placed it in the mould and pressed it into place. Baked it, left it to cool, placed it back in the fridge for an hour or so and….

 Grrrrrr!!

it STILL got stuck!!!!

So, I’m stumped! Do you have a clever trick for getting shortbread out of a ceramic mould? What’s the knack! If you can shed any light/ experience/ help,  we (Astrid and I) would love to hear your tips! Please post a comment below.

Many thanks,

Emma

Enjoy!

 

 

I love this Shortbread recipe (Part 1)

Shortbread biscuits make my mouth water!

Shortbread biscuits

I do love short bread, but I have also come to dislike it quite a lot too! (more on that in Part 2 tomorrow!)

Last week Beau, Darcey and I made a load of vanilla cookies to give as Christmas gifts. One was for our brilliant postie. He’s great and since going freelance in March I now have a lot of  heavy post including four magazine subscriptions Tim also has two, tons of press releases, books to review and products to test, so we keep him really busy and fit.

When he delivers he normally opens the porch door to drop the pile of post inside, so we left his tip and the cookies in that spot for him to find on his early morning rounds. The problem was that the post that day was just small letters and was put through the letterbox. The gift was still there waiting in the evening. And the same thing happened the next day! Then it was Christmas and there was no post for days and the vanilla cookies were not going to taste their best! So we have made him these shortbread biscuits instead.

Beau and Darcey are currently sitting by the living room window looking out for him as I type, so that we don’t miss him again!

Ingredients

225g Plain flour

100g Semolina

225g butter (at room temperature)

100g Caster Sugar

30g granulated sugar

To make the shortbread biscuits

Line baking tins with baking paper and set aside in the fridge. Heat the oven to 160°C, Fan 140°C, Gas Mark 3.

The ingredients

Measure out the butter and sugar into your mixing bowl and sift the flour and semolina into another bowl.

 Mix the butter and sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together until light in colour.

Add the flour and semolina

Add the dry ingredients and blend again.

Mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl

Continue to mix until the dough is formed and comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Wrap in cling film

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for an hour in the fridge.

Roll out the dough

Knead the dough as little as possible then roll it out. Use some plain flour to stop it sticking. Cut out your biscuits and give them a little space on the baking tin the shortbread will spread a little bit.
Use a fork to make holes in the biscuits

Use a fork to make holes to ensure that the biscuits cook right through. This method is usually for when you bake one large biscuit to be cut up later in a cake tin and the shortbread is much thicker, but I liked the pattern it made with the cookie cutter.

sprinkle sugar on top

Sprinkle sugar over the cookies.This will almost disappear on the shortbread but adds to the look and taste! I used granulated but you can use brown, cinnamon or Demerara sugar too.

Leave to cool

Pop the shortbread cookies in the oven for 20 minutes or until they are a pale golden brown colour. Then remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes before transferring them onto a rack to cool completely. Try to resist eating them whilst still hot. I can’t! I love them straight out of the oven!

Shortbread cookies gift bag

We placed the cooled shortbread into a zip-lock bag so that they were air tight (they need to be kept in an air tight container and also should be eaten within 2 days – this shouldn’t be a problem!) and then placed them into a paper gift bag tied with ribbon and mini baubles. I know Christmas is over but better late than never!  I hope he likes them!

More shortbread fun tomorrow!

Enjoy!

Extra Chocolatey Christmas Pudding Cookies

The perfect Christmas cookie gift

My good friend Kathryn is popping over today with gifts for the girls. She is one of my oldest friends and always buys them a gift for Christmas. She’s so generous. We always buy her a birthday present (her birthday is in January – it’s one of those funny set ups) but I thought it would be lovely to give her some home made Christmas cookies as a little treat when she comes for lunch today. I know she loves chocolate. I mean who doesn’t? I decided to make extra chocolatey cookies and give them a Christmas touch. These cookies are pretty quick and easy to make, but they do need to be left over night to harden.  

Ingredients

Makes around 30 biscuits (enough to give and to ‘test’)

  • 200g unsalted butter- at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 egg – at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • Green and red sugar paste for the holly

To make the biscuits

  • Heat your oven to 160° and line a baking sheet with baking paper.Put all the ingredients into the bowl
  • Place all the ingredients into a bowl in one go and mix until just blended, then use your hands to form a soft dough.
  • This mixture is quite sticky so it needs to chill in the fridge for at least an hour or you’ll end up with a sticky mess! Wrap the dough in cling film first so it doesn’t dry out.Wrap and chill the dough
  • When you are ready to roll out the dough, take a little out of the fridge at a time so it doesn’t get too warm and handle it as little as possible. Also, try not to use too much flour when rolling out as it will remain on the baked biscuits. I used a 2 ½ inch circle cutter to create the round cookies and used spacers to ensure each cookie was the same size. Pop them in the oven for 12 minutes or when the edges start to go darker.Cut out the circle cookies
  • Leave to cool completely on a wire rack once baked.Leave the cookies to cool off

To decorate the chocolate cookies

  • Roll out a small amount of green icing and use a holly leaf cutter (available at Cake craft world.com or hobbycraft shops) to cut out 1, 2 or 3 leaves for each cookie. Set aside to dry a little, then roll out tiny balls of red sugarpaste. When you have enough press the bottom of the leaves together to secure. Add the berries to the base. If they don’t stick use a tiny amount of water or edible glue to position them.Cut out holly and roll the berries
  • Set aside to dry for 10 minutes or so, so you‘ll be able to handle them when you want to put them on the cookies. It’s a good idea to place some baking paper on the plate so the sugarpaste doesn’t get stuck.The holly
  • For the top of the Christmas pudding melt the white chocolate in the microwave in a non metallic bowl. I blast it for 30 seconds at a time so it doesn’t burn. Stir between each session till there are no lumps. I have a new toy (more on that next week) it’s a Lekue decopen which is a silicon icing tool. It’s perfect for holding hot melted chocolate without burning your hands and allows me to control where I ‘ice’. You can easily use a plastic icing bag with a nozzle though. If you don’t have either you could use a small spoon but it might take a bit of patience to do it that way!  Create an outline of the dribbling icing at the top of each pudding  then fill in the space with the chocolate.Melt the chocolateAdd the white chocolate topping
  • You can simply add the holly at this stage as the cookies look really cute. But for a ‘death by chocolate cookie’ melt the dark chocolate and create the bottom half of the pudding in the same way as the top. Then add the holly and leave to dry overnightReady to serve

Top tip: When adding the melted chocolate remember that it has a tendency to run so don’t ‘ice’ too close to the edge of the cookie or it will dribble off the side of the cookie and you won’t want to give it as a gift – you’ll have to eat it yourself!!! Wrapped up cookies

Enjoy!

 

The easy way to make Viennese biscuits

The easiest way to make Viennese biscuits


I was given one of these fab cookie press gadgets to test for a feature I was writing for ‘Feel Good Food’ magazine last year. It was around New Year so I made some biscuits to take to a party. I put them on a plate and made them look all lovely and my friend asked me where I bought them from! I laughed and when she said “was it M&S?”  She was serious. They tasted and looked so good that she thought they were shop bought! I don’t think compliments come much better than that.

Cookie pressPumpkin and bat shapes

In truth, these are the easiest biscuits to make whether you have a cookie press or not. If you don’t you can always use a piping bag with little zig zag cuts at the bottom or use a buttercream  piping nozzle (as seen below)

I made these with my girls when we were going to a play date during the last half term. The weather wasn’t good so baking was a great distraction. They loved it as there are gadgets involved.

Ingredients

100g soft butter

25 icing sugar

100g plain flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

50g good quality plain chocolate ( 70% cocoa solids tastes best)

To make the Viennese biscuits

  1. Heat your oven to 190.C (170.c fan ovens) Gas mark 5. Grease your baking trays then pop them in the fridge – this is the trick to making the dough stick, cold trays. There’s no need for baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter and the sugar to form a pale and fluffy texture.stir it well
  3. Use a sieve to add the flour and baking powder so there are no lumps. Mix until well blended.Sieve the icing sugar onto the butter
  4. Assemble your cookie press or nozzle and icing bag and fill it with the soft and squidgy dough.Fill the press
  5. Position your cookie press at a 90 degree angle to the backing tray. Squeeze once then lift up. The cookie should stick to the tray. It’s great childs play as Beau and Darcey demonstrate.

Darcey making batsBeau and her pumpkins

6.If using an icing bag, position the nozzle in the bag and fill it with the dough.

Icing bag and nozzle7. Squeeze the icing bag so that it is at a 90 degree angle to the baking tray (as was the cookie press) and lift off. Make sure you leave space between each one as they spread out a little.

Viennese kisses. Squeeze and lift

8. Pop the baking tray of cookies in the oven for 10 minutes or till the edges start to brown. These biscuits are very fragile so leave them to cool on the tray for a good five minutes before transferring them to a wire racklittle kisses9.Melt the chocolate in a microwave friendly bowl for 30 seconds at a time until completely melted. Stir between each heating. Dip each cookie in the chocolate and let the excess drip off. Leave to cool and harden on the wire rack.

Dipping in chocolate

These really are melt in the mouth biscuits so share them if you can!!

Mmmmmm!

Enjoy !

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