These are deliciously light and melt in the mouth. They are also easy to make. You can keep the dough in the fridge for a few days, slicing off the biscuits as you want to bake them. This makes them great if you are expecting visitors.
The tahini I use is from Butterbelle, handmade by Zoe and her team here in the Ironbridge Gorge. It’s definitely the best tahini I have ever tasted. There is no bitterness, which can be a problem with some of the tahinis I have tried before. It makes the most delicious hummus, which is what I really buy it for. I was wondering what biscuit I should serve at yesterday’s Sweet Dough course and the jar of tahini was sitting on the side beckoning to me. I hadn’t tried baking with it before but I am really glad I did. If you try these you are in for a real treat.
Makes about 25 biscuits
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature 100g soft brown sugar 100g tahini (sesame seed paste) 175g wholemeal spelt flour (you can use any wholemeal flour)
Beat the soft butter and the sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Stir in the tahini and the flour. You should have a fairly stiff dough. Wrap in clingfilm or greaseproof paper and roll into a sausage shape. The dough will now happily sit in the fridge for a few days. When you want to bake the biscuits, cut 1cm slices from the dough and place onto a non stick baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, gas mark 4 or use the centre of the baking oven of the 4 oven Aga and bake for 10-15 minutes ( depending on your oven) until golden brown all over. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray as they are very fragile when still warm. Once they have cooled a little place on a wire rack to cool completely.
I hadn’t tried a stroopwafel until a few years ago. A new Co-op opened up and they had them on their biscuit shelf. Just as we had become addicted they withdrew from their shelves. We found them at Asda shortly after, so all was well.
Then, whilst perusing Aldi’s specials the other day (I go in there specifically to cut down our shopping bill and then get drawn in by their specials – clever old Aldi), I saw that they had cone waffle makers. I couldn’t resist. So now that I have made several batches of ice cream cones over the past few weeks I thought it was time to try to make my very own stroopwafel.
You can go and buy a packet of stroopwafels from your local supermarket or deli, but there is something very rewarding about making your own, even if you just do it once.
The recipe for the waffle can be used to make cones or wafers for ice cream.
Beat together the eggs in a large bowl and add the sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the sifted flour, butter and vanilla extract and stir together until smooth and the mixture just drops off the spoon when lifted.
Heat the waffle maker and when it’s ready drop a tablespoonful of the waffle mixture onto the hot surface and cook for a minute or so until golden brown. Take off the waffle pan and place onto a piece of kitchen towel for a minute and then onto a wire rack.
For the caramel sauce:
45g soft brown sugar
30g caster sugar
150g golden syrup
125ml double cream
Place the sugars, syrup and butter into a pan and melt over a medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream. Take off the heat and leave to cool. I popped mine in the fridge to harden up a little.
Use the caramel sauce to sandwich two waffles together. Slice into triangles. Enjoy with a good cup of coffee.
These cookies came about because I love peanut butter. I eat it off a spoon straight out of the jar. I felt like making peanut butter cookies, but because I like it so much there is not enough left in the jar to make biscuits. I did have a bag of hazelnuts in the cupboard though.
I am pleased that I didn’t have enough peanut butter as these are really, really very good, chewy and dense biscuits.
Makes about 16
50g butter, softened
100g soft light brown sugar
1 small egg (mine weighed 45g)
50g white spelt flour (or you can use plain flour)
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 7, or on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 3 minutes until toasted. Turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4. Place a clean tea towel into a bowl, spread out to catch the nuts (this keeps the nuts from escaping onto the floor). Gather the nuts in the towel and rub them vigorously. Most of the skins will rub off. Pick out the nuts from their skins. Place 150g of the nuts into a food processor and blitz until really fine. Add the butter, sugar and egg and whizz until combined. Add the flour and whizz again until combined. Add the remaining 50g of hazelnuts and whizz until the hazelnuts are broken up but still chunky. Take a chunk of the dough that’s about the same size as a walnut. Roll into a ball and flatten slightly. You can use the tines of a fork to mark a pattern if you like. Place onto a greased baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, or the centre of the baking oven for 12-15 minutes until golden. Place on a wire rack to cool.
These little bars of deliciousness are, like the Norfolk Scone, inspired by Jennie Reekie’s Cakes, Pastries and Bread book. I have altered her recipe though replacing half the flour with ground almonds to make them more almondy, taken out Jennie’s cinnamon addition and changing the method, so they really are only a doff of the hat to Jennie. Mine are more macaroon to Jennie’s shortbread. In fact, if you pinned me down to describing them I would say that they are a hybrid macaroon/shortbread. A bit like the Norfolk Scone being a hybrid scone/eccles cake. There seems to be a pattern forming here…
Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the middle shelf of the Aga baking oven.
I use a food processor and whizz the butter, caster sugar, flour and almonds until the mixture begins to form a ball.
If you don’t have a processor then rub the butter into the flour, almonds and sugar. You will start with a breadcrumb texture and then it should start to bind together to form a ball.
Press the mixture into a 20cm square tin using the palm of your hand to level the surface. Using a pastry brush, brush all over with the beaten egg. Prick all over with the tines of a fork and sprinkle over the almonds and granulated sugar.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cut into fingers whilst still warm, lift the baking paper out of the tin and place onto a cooling tray.
I wasn’t sure what I should call these. I was tempted by calling it ‘cheesecake without the cheese’, but that would just be cake. This is my youngest’s go-to recipe when she wants to make something. She was sick on Sunday night, so couldn’t go to school yesterday, despite being as bright as a button. So, yesterday was a day of keeping her amused. Her first request was to make these. They are an adaptation of a recipe by Lorraine Pascale from her Fast, Fresh and Easy Food. My youngest had this book for Christmas from her grandparents last year and she was drawn to Lorraine’s Peanut Butter Squares from her first read and we have been making them regularly ever since. However, I have played about with them each time, reducing the sugar and the peanut butter, in an attempt to make them a bit healthier and a bit less sweet. I am not saying they are healthy, but they are good and they get the thumbs up from the youngest and her dad.
250g digestive biscuits
100g soft brown sugar
50g peanut butter
100g nuts, (you can use whatever you have in your cupboard, I had hazelnuts this time)
200g chocolate (we used 100g dark chocolate and 100g milk chocolate this time, but you can use whatever you have or like)
We use a 20cm round or square cake pan, lined with baking paper. You could also line it with clingfilm.
Melt the butter in a pan over a gentle heat.
Whizz the biscuits in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add the sugar and give another whizz until mixed. Add the peanut butter and nuts and whizz again. The nuts should be quite finely chopped, but a few chunks make for an interesting texture. Pour in the melted butter and whizz until everything starts to come together. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and press down well with the back of a spoon.
Melt the chocolate and pour and spread over the top. Because we used dark and white chocolate this time we dribbled spoonfuls of both chocolates over the top alternately to produce the marbled look.
Place the tin in the fridge to set and then cut into small squares. The ones in the photo are particularly generous slices. Half this size will suffice for each serving. It makes about 16 slices.
This is another fruity variation on a traditional treat. I didn’t plan this succession of posts in this way. We have a friend who makes the most delicious fruit slice. We have asked her for the recipe but she does that quick change of subject thing that suggests that it is a closely guarded family secret. So, each time she cooks us a batch I try my best to work out how she does it. I haven’t cracked it yet. Both my girls love Mrs C’s fruit slice and devour it as soon as it arrives. So, the experiments will have to continue until I crack it.
I think Mrs C’s is a pastry rather than a shortbread but it’s a pastry quite like no other. I tried my own version with a quick flaky pastry but it wasn’t the same. In fact it was nowhere near. Then I tried this, just in case. I knew it wouldn’t be the same as Mrs C’s but it is pretty good. So, if you don’t have the benchmark of Mrs C’s fruit slice to stand up to you could be very satisfied with these. They take the shortbread just one step further in the decadence stakes. They travel well so make good picnic or fete treats and with the summer holidays just around the corner we are hoping that there will be plenty of opportunities for picnics, and in the open air, rather than in the car.
For the shortbread base and topping
425 g (15 0z) plain flour
150g (5oz) caster sugar
275g (10oz) butter
For the fruit filling
150g (5oz) mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, glace cherries, mixed peel etc)
25g (1oz) soft light brown sugar
juice of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 160°c, gas mark 3, or place a rack on the bottom rung of the baking oven of the Aga. Grease a 26cm square tin.
To make the fruit filling, pour the orange juice into a small saucepan and add the sugar and fruit. Bring to a very gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes, until the fruit has plumped up. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
To make the shortbread, place the flour, sugar and cubed butter into a food processor and pulse until it begins to come together. If you don’t have a food processor then place the flour in a large bowl, stir in the sugar and using your fingertips rub in the cubed butter, until it begins to make pea sized pieces.
Spread half of the shortbread mixture in the bottom of the tin and press down well with the back of a spoon. Spread the fruit evenly over and cover with the remaining shortbread dough. Press down well with the spoon. Prick all over with a fork. Place in the centre of the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden. Sprinkle with caster sugar and cut into squares. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
This is a lovely way to use up those plums that you bought in the hope that they would be chin drippingly delicious but turn out to be tooth breakingly hard. It’s a sweet treat so you probably shouldn’t eat it all in one sitting…
100g (4oz) butter
100g (4oz) demerara sugar
1 generous tablespoon of golden syrup
150g (6oz) rolled oats
50g (2oz) flaked almonds
3-4 plums, stoned and sliced
Lightly grease a round pie dish or cake tin, mine measures 23cm but you could use one that measures 20cm and have a deeper flapjack.
Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a medium-sized pan over a medium heat. Take off the heat and add the oats and the flaked almonds. Stir well to combine. Spread three-quarters of the mixture in the bottom of the pie dish. Lay the plums over this in a single layer. Spoon the remaining oat mixture over, leaving some of the plums exposed. Press the mixture down well with the back of a spoon.
Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the centre of the baking oven of the Aga for 20-25 minutes until golden. Mark it into sections as soon as you take it out of the oven otherwise it is difficult to slice when cold. Leave to go completely cold before removing it from the dish.
The sickness bug is visiting. My youngest came down with it yesterday. She was still eating yesterday and wanted some biscuits. We normally make Poorly biscuits but I had caught a bit of James Wong doing his thing on Grow Your Own Drugs the other day where he said that ginger helps stop nausea. My youngest is rather partial to a ginger biscuit too. So making these made sense.
They are very moreish and as they are best eaten the same day as they are cooked that’s all good. I have to say though no amount of ginger was going to help my little one overcome this bout of nausea, but the biscuits taste good. They aren’t shy about being ginger, and this is because I added the syrup from a jar of stem ginger instead of golden syrup. I like them all the more because of this. However, if you would prefer a more coy biscuit then use golden syrup for a more gentle ginger hit.
It’s only a matter of time before the eldest requires some biscuits too.
110g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
scant ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 rounded tsp ground ginger
40g granulated sugar
2tbsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger or golden syrup
1 tsp runny honey
Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the Aga baking oven with the rack positioned above the centre.
These biscuits are very easy to make if you have a food processor. Just place the flour, baking powder, bicarb and ginger in the bowl of the processor and whizz for a second to combine. Add the sugar and whizz again. Add the butter in cubes and whizz until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the syrup and honey and whizz until the mixture starts to come together. Remove the blade from the machine and work the mixture into a ball.
If you don’t have a processor, place the flour, baking powder, bicarb and ginger in a bowl, add the sugar and then rub in the cubed butter using the tips of your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the syrup and honey and use a butter or palette knife to mix the dough, then use your hands to work it into a ball.
Divide the dough into twelve balls and then flatten each ball out. Place onto a greased baking sheet or one lined with silicone sheet. Press with the tines of a fork into each biscuit. Place into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Don’t let these boring looking biscuits deceive you, they are actually quite exciting.
I haven’t posted a Shropshire recipe for some time. This isn’t because I have forgotten my ambition to share more Shropshire recipes with you. I have been reading quite a bit about the history of food in England recently and I have often been thumbing through my Shropshire recipe books. I just haven’t managed to blog about it.
The Shrewsbury Cake, also known as the Shrewsbury Biscuit, has many variations and a long history. Some recipes state lemon as the main flavouring, some caraway seeds. Karen Wallace, in her Shropshire Food, says that five variations of the biscuit are listed in Cassell’s Dictionary of Cooking, printed in the 19th century.
Wikipedia tells me that a recipe for it was included in The Compleat Cookery, printed in 1658, and that the playwright William Congreve, uses the Shrewsbury Cake as a simile in his play, The Way of The World in 1700. Karen Wallace refers to a pamphlet produced in 1938 (that is how important the Shrewsbury cake is, it gets its very own pamphlet, with the grand name ‘Shrewsbury Cakes – The Story of a Famous Delicacy’) that states that the first recorded mention of said cakes was in 1561. The cakes were given to people of importance when they visited the town.
My Shropshire Cookery Book, published by Shropshire Women’s Institute has a historical recipe from a family recipe book from 1630 to 1750 and this is the one I have used for this recipe. It includes a reference to sack, which had me scratching my head for some time. What, I wondered, is sack? Then I remembered that hiding away on one of my shelves I have the Good Housekeeping Cookery Encyclopedia, which says that sack is “an old name for various white wines, particularly those from Spain and the Canaries; sherry is the only modern representative of the family”. So, there we go, who knew?
I don’t have any sherry in the house, but I do have a bottle of Madeira, so Madeira it is then.
Here is the original recipe taken from the WI’s Shropshire Cookery Book. This book does not have a publication date, but as the price was originally 2s.3d. it’s safe to say it was printed before the decimalisation of sterling in 1971. It’s a wonderful book full of treasures and I love the way each recipe was given by a member of one of the WI’s in Shropshire. The historical recipe for Shrosebury Cakes was given by E.Walshe (St.Giles WI), and very grateful I am too.
To Make Shrosebury Cakes
Take one pound of flower, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, half an ounce of carraway seed, some nutmeg, rub it well together then take three eggs, beat them well, then put to them three spoonsful of sack and as much rosewater. Mix it with your paste then role it out and cut it into what shapes you please, bake them upon tin plates, prick them with a pin let your oven be not to hott.
I love the way so many of the spellings have changed since the 17th Century and the spelling of Shrosebury is very interesting. There is a long-standing argument locally over whether Shrewsbury is pronounced with a shrews or a shrose, and I have grown up saying it with a shrews. It seems, however, that historically it was a shrose. Shocking (and may I add, wrong).
You can still get Shrewsbury biscuits in some of the bakeries in Shropshire. But I doubt they add a slug of Madeira to their dough. In fact no Shrewsbury biscuit I have ever tasted tastes like these. You can detect both the Madeira and the rosewater and the dough spreads to create a delicate tuile-like biscuit rather than the shortbready type I have tried before. They would be delicious with ice cream. When I make them next though I might forgo the rosewater and stick with the madeira as I am not sure it’s not all too complicated a taste. Don’t do away with the caraway seeds though, as they are delicious.
Here is my recipe. It makes one-third of the original to make 22 biscuits.
150g plain flour
150g caster sugar
150g cold butter
¼ tsp caraway seed
pinch of grated nutmeg
1 tsp rosewater
1 tsp Madeira or sherry
The easiest way to make these biscuits is in a food processor. Tip in the flour and the cubed butter and pulse until breadcrumbs. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until it starts to come together as a dough. Shape into a flattened disc and wrap in cling film or a food bag and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
If you don’t have a food processor, then rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together with your hands until it gathers into a ball.
Dust the work surface with flour as this is quite a sticky dough and roll the dough until about 5mm thick. Stamp out rounds or any shape you like and place onto lightly greased baking sheets.
Place in the centre of a preheated oven at 160°c, gas mark 3 or the lower half of the Aga Baking oven for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden. Leave on the tray to cool for five minutes and then remove carefully onto wire racks. These biscuits are delicate so take care.
Make a pot of tea, sit down and enjoy a little taste of history and salute to the good people of Shrosebury, or indeed Shrewsbury.
These are my favourite type of macaroons, wonderfully old fashioned in comparison to the fancy ones available now. They are so easy to make and deliciously almondy with just the right amount of chewiness.
They are perfect for using up any egg whites you may have lurking in the fridge. If you have a food processor then it takes just a few minutes, and even if you haven’t it is not much more work.
They are best made on rice paper but my girls like rice paper so much they eat it before I have chance to use it. If you don’t have rice paper then a silicone lining sheet works really well, but they also don’t stick too much to a non-stick tray as long as you lift them within a minute or two of them coming out of the oven, but be warned they are very fragile at that point.
The only problem with these is that they are completely irresistible and no good for the New Year diet.
If you have a food processor place the almonds, sugar and icing sugar in the bowl of the processor and whizz for a few seconds. Add the egg whites and whizz until combined.
If you don’t have a food processor them place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric whisk until well combined.
Line a tray with silicone paper or rice paper and place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the tray. Place a flaked almond on top of each one.
Place in the preheated oven or on the middle shelf of the baking oven of the Aga for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned all over. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes and then place onto a wire rack to cool completely.
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