Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oat Biscuits

I love oatmeal biscuits. They are just so satisfying somehow. They are biscuits of substance. So I had to try the oat biscuit recipe in Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros.

I have to say they are really very good biscuits. There is nothing fancy about them at all. Simple is always best I find. And they are really easy to make.

Tessa claims that they are healthy. They do have both oats and wholemeal flour after all. But they also have a fair whack of butter and sugar. I'm not sure I would take her up on her suggestion of eating them for breakfast. I would just feel guilty. My mum would have a fit. Morning tea, however, would be about perfect.

Oat Biscuits
(by Tessa Kiros from Apples for Jam)

Beat 1 egg, 120 gm of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat in 80 gm of softened butter. Sift together 50 gm of plain flour, 50 gm of wholemeal flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder and mix in. Mix in 100 gm of quick cooking oats, 1 tablespoon of milk and a pinch of salt.

Roll into walnut sized balls and place, well spaced, on a lined baking tray. Press with a fork to flatten slightly. Bake for 15 minutes in a 180C oven until golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Chocolate Bread

When I first saw a recipe for chocolate bread in my new favourite book, Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, I thought that it would either be the most divine thing ever or the most disgusting. It turned out to be neither.

The loaf itself is lovely - soft and quite moist. A pleasure to chew in fact. It also keeps very well. As for the taste? Well, the chocolate flavour was actually a bit bitter. This could well have been due to the fact that I used dutch cocoa. Supermarket nestle may have been a better choice. But I still enjoyed it. It's novelty value alone will ensure that I make it again.

It really is quite easy to make. I substituted 7g of dry yeast for the 15g of fresh yeast specified in the recipe. I based this on the guidelines provided by Stephanie Alexander - half the quantity of dried yeast to fresh and and 1 tablespoon of dry yeast to leaven 1 kilo of flour. It worked perfectly

The recipe calls for a rather oddly proportioned tin - 30cm x 11cm. I used a more standard 27cm x 15cm and it was just fine.

I served it here with some soft butter and Golden Circle mango and passionfruit jam. I have only just discovered this jam and have been devouring it wholeheartedly. I usually avoid supermarket jam, preferring to buy homemade offerings from the farmers market. But this one is a cut above the usual Cottee etceteras. Being chocolate, this loaf has of course also proven to be excellent with raspberry.

Chocolate Loaf
(by Tessa Kiros from Apples for Jam)

Place 7g of dry yeast or 15g of fresh yeast and 40g of caster sugar in a large bowl. Heat 310ml of milk to lukewarm and add to the yeast. Leave for ten minutes until it develops a spongy top. Add 400g of bread flour, 40g of cocoa powder, 40g of melted butter and a pinch of salt. Knead for about six minutes. The dough will be very soft.

Cover and leave for 11/2 to 2 hours until it is well risen.

Knock the dough down. Shape and place in a buttered and floured loaf tin (see above). Leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour until well risen. Bake in 180C oven for about 25 minutes. The top should be firm and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Jamie Oliver's Shortbread

The best shortbread in the world!!! Or is it? That is the question, ladies and gentlemen. Jamie Oliver says yes. I say, well not really. Don't get me wrong. It's very good. Perhaps not the best ever in the whole wide world though.

But really who cares. This shortbread is lovely, light and buttery. It's got a good crisp crunch which is what I like in a shortbread. It's a no nonsense basic recipe and takes almost no time at all.

Nevertheless, there were two issues. First of all the recipe says to roll out the dough. For my mind it was far too soft to do that. I couldn't see how I could possibly get it into the tin in one piece. So i just spooned it straight into the tin and flattened it out with the back of a spoon. It worked fine.

Then there was the cooking time. The recipe says 150C for 50 minutes. By that stage it was still soft and mushy. I left it in for an extra 25 minutes and then it was perfect. It never really browned though. I have no idea why.

It all came together in the end. I'll certainly be making it again. I think it would, as Jamie suggests, be lovely with some lemon zest.

The Best Shortbread in the World
(By Jamie Oliver in Cooking with Jamie)

Cream 250g unsalted butter and 125g of caster sugar. Add 250g of plain flour and 125g of semolina or cornflour. Mix lightly.

Press into a 22cm square tin and prick with a fork. It should be about two centimetres thick. Bake in 150C oven for 50 minutes (or longer if need be). While warm sprinkle with caster sugar. Cut into fingers.

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