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Shortbread SISTA’s… with some sisterly LOVE x

23 Jun

20130623-105240.jpgLast month I popped home… to the North, for a long weekend and we decided to have a family baking day.  My little sister was DYING to show me her shortbread recipe and as I had just purchased some cheeky little LOVE heart cutters, it seemed completely apt to get them out and make some sisterly shortbreads.

So, I do hope you enjoy the recipe, my little hand model and the abuse I got during this baking session… but we love each other really and its all part of the fun of baking!

We decided to play around with the shortbread recipe, so we made some plain shortbreads with cinnamon sugar on the top and then we made some chocolate shortbreads, which were wonderful and last but not least some almond and cinnamon shortbreads.  All of them were absolutely delicious and very quick / easy to prepare

PREPARATION TIME: 8 minutes (per batch)

COOKING TIME: 20 minutes (per batch)

MAKES: 8 shortbreads (per batch, we made 3 batches as per the below!)

INGREDIENTS:

Gemma’s basic shortbreads, which follow the 3 to 2 to 1 recipe…

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g sugar

…We added cinnamon sugar to the top of these, so mix 50g brown sugar with 2 tsp cinnamon and then sprinkle over the top before baking.

Rebecca’s chocolate  shortbreads…

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • 80g dark chocolate / milk chocolate /white chocolate (broken up into bits)

SallyAnn’s almond and cinnamon shortbreads…

  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g butter
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

… you could add the cinnamon sugar to the top of these too, just for some extra tastiness.

HOW TO MAKE THE LOVELY SHORTBREADS…

You definitely don’t have to make all three batches of these shortbreads, you could just choose one and have a go.  They really are one of the most simple recipes I have ever made.  At first, when my sister suggested it I was concerned that they would take a long time to prepare as my perception was that shortbreads are quite a tricky, fiddly thing to make, but they really really are not and as we demonstrated you can play around with the ingredients and add whatever you like.  We did not follow a recipe for the chocolate / almond shortbreads, we just got a few ingredients out of the cupboard and had a go (which I think is the fun of baking).

I would urge anyone who is a keen baker to start experimenting with recipes and flavours, it really adds a new dimension to baking and I think its something that has really changed my baking style over the last year and using a new ingredient is not something that phases me.  When I next make these shortbreads I am going to play around with a home-made apple purée and apricots/almonds or even one batch with dates.

  1. Weigh out the butter and place this in a large bowl.
  2. To this add the sugar.
  3. Cream together the butter and the sugar.
  4. Weigh out the flour and add this to the mixture.
  5. Bring together into a smooth, thick paste.

If at this stage you have made a double/triple batch of this mixture then separate out and add whatever fillings you like either chocolate or almonds or apricots.  I am going to show you (with the help of my hand model) how to make these shortbreads.

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First, flour your worktop.

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Take your shortbread dough out of the bowl and then shape gently into a round.

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Pat down a little.

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Roll out…. Roll 3 times one way and then turn 90 degrees. Roll again and then rotate again.

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Roll out until the dough is about 1cm to 1.5cm thick.

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Now you can cut out your shortbreads into whatever shape you desire. We choose love hearts (to use my new cutters). If you don’t have a cutter, you could use a stencil like the one below…

heartpattern

Use this stencil if you want to make love hearts and don’t have a cutter!

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Cut out all your shapes and then gently remove from the dough. Bring the dough that is left together, but DO NOT PLAY WITH. Literally bring into a lump/ball and then place to one side.

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Place gently on your baking tray. Line the baking tray with a non-stick sheet, but if you don’t have one of these use butter to grease the tray.

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If you want to make chocolate ones, add the chocolate and then bring together into a dough.

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Roll to 1cm to 1.5cm then cut out…

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Space evenly on the baking tray and then, if you are sprinkling with sugar, do this at this stage, before you bake the shortbreads. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees / gas mark 4 for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden but not brown. You want them to be doughy/soft inside, not hard and crunchy!

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Now it is time to tidy up!!

I hope you shortbreads turn out well… I shall leave you with some of the silliness that happened whilst we were baking!  And no… piggybacking was not offered… I was JUMPED on.  When asked if I could have a piggyback I was told ‘Oooo no, really, but your the big sister who is supposed to give the little sister piggybacks.  Little sisters can’t give them to big sisters as they are BIG‘.  Charming.

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Aunty Olive’s, Aunty Olive Biscuits… A treat if ever I have had one!

6 Mar

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Heading home, back to the North of England, from London and thinking about its associations and my childhood brings me straight to food…  The main thing I think about when I am about to embark on my journey home will no doubt include all the meals I can have!  My mother will cook a certain selection of meals that we will agree on in advance, that will take me straight back to my childhood.  These include:

  • Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas (the nothern bit, they don’t do mushy peas down south)
  • Steak Pies with lashings and lashings of gravy, with mashed potato
  • Mince and Dumplings also known as a ‘Swimmer’
  • Hairy Chicken (this one you will have to ask my sister about; but it was simply something she noticed about chicken wings when she was little and used to enquire about… we don’t eat feathered chickens just because we are northern!)
  • A ‘sit around tea’ – which consists of sandwiches and a buffet style meal, only to be had when the whole family comes over
  • Cakes – my mum always has the cake tin stocked up, always.  When we were little people would come over to our house just to have my mum’s cake – not to play with me! Hehe!  So what cakes… parkin cakes, rock buns, chocolate chip muffins, bakewell tarts, and last but by no means least Aunty Olive Biscuits.

‘An Aunty Olive Biscuit?’ I hear you saying with a puzzled face!  Yes… that is correct, and you are not silly for not knowing what the heck they are.  Basically we had a fake aunty (it feels bad saying this, but you know what I mean!) who lived next door, with Uncle Harry and my little sister and I doted on them both.  We would be at her house 50% of the time we were at our own, and we would always be given homemade biscuits.  They were full of golden syrup and oats and my sister and I adored them.  Eventually my mother got a little bit sick of hearing about ‘Aunty Olive Biscuits’ and so she asked for the recipe and have made them ever since – to my families total delight!

They are a favourite of my mum’s, dad’s my sister’s and now my housemates.  I make them every so often and I know that they will be gone quicker than any cake.  The are special as they remind me of my late Aunty Olive and all the happy memories I had growing up.  So here we are, and do give a nod to Aunty Olive when you eat them…

PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes

COOKING TIME: 10 – 15 minutes

MAKES: 12 biscuits

INGREDIENTS

  • 4oz (115g) margarine
  • 3oz (85g) caster sugar
  • 4oz (115g) golden syrup
  • 4oz (115g) self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 6oz (170g) porridge oats / rolled oats

HOW TO MAKE THE LITTLE TREASURES…

First things first, as with any recipe you need to prepare your oven (180 degrees C or gas mark 4) and then prepare your baking trays with baking paper.  I would use two trays, as from this mixture you will make approx. 12 biscuits.

In a small pan melt the margarine.  You don’t want this bubbling, boiling and then burning, so do this very gently on a low heat.  To this you are going to add the golden syrup, which is what gives them their gorgeous golden glow.  So, this is quite challenging to do, as you know syrup is sticky.  Place the syrup on the scales, zero/tare them so that they are on zero, and now we are going to remove the required amount (115g).  Use a dessert spoon, place it into the syrup…. ummmmm… now lift it out and start twirling the spoon, so that any ‘extra’ sryup will fall off and fall back into the tin.  Once you have no trail behind whip this over to your pan (on a low heat), stop twirling and scrape the syrup off.  Repeat this until you have taken 4oz (115g) from the tin.  The scales will read -4oz or -115g.

(Well done if you have done this without getting syrup all over your workspace – you deserve to lick the spoon!)

Heat the syrup and the marg together until they have come together and then place to one side.  You can now weigh out all the other (dry) ingredients into your mixing bowl.

To the dry ingredients add the warm syrup/marg solution and then bring together to make a dough, using your spoon (not the syrup one if you licked it!).  The dough will be firm and stiff, which is exactly right, as we are making biscuits!

Take a small handful of the oat/syrup biscuit dough and roll this into a ball.  Place this ball onto the baking sheet and repeat, until there is no dough left in the bowl.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  They now need to be patted down, so do this using a spatula – not your hands – and then bake for a further 5 minutes.  They should be a beautiful golden colour now and smelling divine.  Leave them to cool and then indulge!

It is as simple as that.  Thank you Aunty Olive.