Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Biscuit (not so)Beauties

Biscuit-making isn't usually my thing. I tend to stick to cakes or pastry. I think it's because if I'm baking I want it to be something extra special and for me, that's not normally a biscuit. However, there seems to be lots of little biscuits sold in the boulangeries round here that look quite delicious, so I guess I've been inspired! And of course, a biscuit is the perfect sidekick to a cup of tea.... 

French Jammie Dodgers

Technically, they're actually French sablés but it's more fun to call them Jammie Dodgers and they look just like them! As I've said, I don't normally make biscuits and, after making these, I remember why... I can't say this has been my most successful baking experience of all time, but then I guess not everything works out how you've planned it! The actual biscuits themselves (minus the burnt ones thanks to my silly oven! How I can't wait to get home and use a decent oven again...) had the perfect texture actually. That's probably because icing sugar is used instead of bog-standard caster, and does make a really short biscuit. Plus, the egg yolks make them very rich. Where I went wrong was misreading the recipe which I've just realised now! Gosh, I am stupid. I skipped out the step where you bake the biscuits first before adding the jam and for some reason, decided to just add the jam and bake straight away! I'll know for next time anyway. This just proves that it is extremely important to read recipes very carefully otherwise they can go very wrong (this is mainly a note to me rather than you!). Oh, I also tried putting Nutella in a few of them (I told you I have an obsession with it!) but of course, this didn't work at all because it went in the oven and just burnt because they had to be in so long. If you follow the recipe correctly though, I'm sure it would work! Having said all that, they don't look bad in the photos and they were definitely edible! Give them a go, if I haven't put you off yet!!

Sablés makes about 20

250g plain flour
200g butter
100g icing sugar
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
8tbsp of jam of your choice


  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease a baking tray.
  2. Put the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a bowl and rub together with fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. And egg yolks and mix until a dough forms.
  4. Roll out onto a floured surface to a thickness of about 0.5cm.
  5. Cut out shapes (roughly 4cm in diameter) and cut out a hole in the middle of half of them (roughly 2cm in diameter).
  6. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until a light golden brown.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Place a small dollop of jam on a whole sablé and place one with a hole on top.
  9. Repeat for each pair.
  10. Enjoy with a cuppa!

I will definitely try this recipe again...when I have learnt to read the recipe properly and I'll let you know how they turn out! In the mean time, I think I'll just go to my local boulangerie and buy some proper sablés from there - I might be more impressed.

Lemon Shortbread

Now for something a little more English. Shortbread. Although again, I'm a little bit disappointed with how these have turned out. When I was little, there were a few certain cafés that we went to and I always used to have the same thing at each one for some reason...don't ask me why! Anyway, the Canal Gardens Café in Roundhay, Leeds, was shortbread. And it was good shortbread. Crumbly and buttery - all the right sort of flavours and textures shortbread should be. They served it on one of those paper doilies and it was a triangle from a big circular shortbread that had been cut out. It's funny the things you remember from your childhood! Anyway, I wanted to try and recreate it, but with a slight variation as it's flavoured with lemon. Not too strong either so it doesn't take away that wonderful buttery taste. However, the texture's just not quite right. I'm not sure why. I found it really hard to get the dough together as there's no liquid ingredient (which is normal for shortbread), so maybe the quantities weren't quite accurate enough. But again, I'm going to blame it on my silly oven instead of me, because I never know whether it's got to the right temperature or if I need to leave things in for longer. It's probably just me not having the knack for making biscuits, but I can always pretend... I'd give them a go though, because it hardly needs any ingredients and I'm sure you'll have better luck than me! Perhaps I'll leave biscuits alone for now...

Lemon Shortbread makes about 12 'slices'

250g plain flour
175g butter
75g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a baking tray.
  2. Place flour and butter into a bowl and run together with fingertips until the mixture ressembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sugar and lemon zest.
  4. Gather together into a dough (it doesn't look like it will, but it will eventually!).
  5. Press dough into baking tray so it is just under 1cm in thickness and cut lines into dough in desired shapes.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool then remove from baking tray and enjoy! 

I'm glad I experiemented with biscuits, but I don't think I'll be making them again in a hurry! Far too much hassle for what it's worth in my opinion. But by all means, don't let me put you off. You'll probably have better luck than me. And don't get me wrong - I do love eating biscuits! (I've just eaten about three in one sitting and these are very rich biscuits). I think I'll stick to cakes and other sweet treats in the future though!

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