Sunday, 19 August 2012

Crazy for Cookies

As I alluded to in my previous post, I am currently struggling to keep up with the demand for home baked goodies for Master Vander-Cave. For the past couple of weeks he has been enrolled in a cricket coaching clinic which he has thoroughly enjoyed but comes home absolutely exhausted and ravenous. He is requesting snack upon snack until dinner is ready which he also wolfs down at lightening speed, which is a pleasant change from his early years when eating was an exceedingly time consuming exercise which frustrated all who had to bear witness to it!

Some how my baking has veered away from cupcakes, towards cookies and biscuits instead, probably because they are quicker to produce than cakes. They are almost more yummy whilst still warm, meaning Master V-C doesn't have to wait as long for another home baked hit! Although the double chocolate cookie recipe has had several outings recently as steadfast favourite with both the boys in my home, I have branched out a bit and road tested a jammy dodger recipe from The River Cottage Handbook using my cookie cutters bought in the Hyper Asia shop in Spain. (everything you could need for just a few euro's, just don't look for longevity!) My other new recipe trial was The Hummingbird Bakery's version of raisin and oatmeal cookies, an  American classic and one of my favourites.
Both recipes  turned out well although the jammy dodger dough needed quick handling with constantly floured hands and surfaces! Also note when cutting out the shapes for jammy dodgers make sure you bake the tops and bottoms on the same tray otherwise you may not be able to sandwich them together and put them back in the oven if the tops or bottoms are still in the oven (something I almost did!)

Jammy Dodgers
175g plain flour
Pinch of sea salt
75g unrefined icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g raspberry jam (or whatever flavour you like)

2 large baking sheets, lined with baking parchment
6–7cm biscuit cutter, crinkle-edged or plain
2cm heart, square, round or animal biscuit cutter, crinkle-edged or plain

Sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and lightly rub into the flour mix, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and vanilla extract together. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix. Add the egg and vanilla mix and work together to form a soft, smooth dough. Alternatively, you can  do what I did and place everything in a food processor and bring to this stage.

Seal the dough in a polythene bag and chill in the fridge for 25–30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170C / gas mark 3.
Divide the dough into two equal portions. Place one portion between two pieces of lightly floured greaseproof paper and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to approximately 4mm thickness.
Repeat with the second piece of dough. Remove the top paper. Note: I would be a little more heavy handed with the flour as the mixture is very likely to stick!

With the larger biscuit cutter, cut the dough into discs (make sure you have an even number). Using the smaller cutter, cut out and remove the centre of half the biscuit discs; the cut-out pieces can either be kneaded back into the remaining dough or baked just as they are.

Place all the discs on the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes until just firm and barely coloured.

Remove from the oven and place a teaspoonful of jam in the centre of each whole biscuit round. Spread to 1.5cm from the edge. Place the cut-out rounds on top. Return to the oven and cook for a further 5–6 minutes by which time the biscuits will be evenly cooked and the jam sufficiently hot to stick the biscuits together.

Leave the biscuits to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Raisin and Oat cookies

270g unsalted butter, at room temperature
160g caster sugar
160g soft dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
380g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
110g rolled oats
220g raisins

Preheat the oven to 170C .

Put the butter and sugars in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and beat in the vanilla extract.

Sift together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl, add the oats and mix well. Add to the butter mixture and beat until well mixed. Stir in the raisins with a wooden spoon until evenly dispersed.

Arrange equal amounts of cookie dough on the prepared baking trays. Make sure that the cookies are spaced apart to allow for spreading while cooking. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. Check them regularly to make sure they are not burning. When you are happy tat they are cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on the trays before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes about 20.

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