Friday, October 27, 2006

Taking the Biscuit

Get ready for Halloween and begin an early start to seasonal celebrations by making your own biscuits. Home-made is comparable to the most expensive on the supermarket shelves, yet you make your own for the price of some of the cheapest.
If you have small children, then make smaller biscuits. Just allow a little less cooking time. Please read the tips at the end to avoid over-baking.
Fork Biscuits - basic mix
4 oz (100g) butter or soft margarine
2 0z (50g) caster sugar
5 oz (150g) S.R.Flour
For orange or lemon biscuits add grated rind of the fruits.
For chocolate biscuits replace 1/2 oz flour with cocoa powder.
For ginger biscuits add 1 level tsp. gr. ginger .
To make:
Soften butter (or use soft marg,) and put in a bowl with the sugar and using a wooden spoon beat them together with any citrus zest or flavourig if using. Work in the flour and, using clean hands, knead it gently into a dough. Pull off lumps about the size of a small walnut and roll into balls, (makes about 20). Place well apart on a greased or non-stick baking tray. Dip a fork into water and press down on the balls to flatten. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4. for about 15 minutes until pale golden. Remove and cool on a cake airer.
Tips: If possible line baking trays with a special non-stick liner, this prevents the underside from browning too much. Also check biscuits just before cooking time is up, they will carry on crisping when taken out of the oven and left on the baking tray for a minute or two more. If taken out too early and when cold they are still too soft, then return them to a hot oven for a moment or two more.

Make-ahead Cheese Straws. (F)
These are best eaten fresh, but freeze very well and hardly need any thawing.
4 oz (150g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) softened butter
2 oz (50g) strong Cheddar cheese
2 med. egg yolks.
Parmesan cheese
Put the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together to make crumbs. Grate the cheddar cheese and stir this in. Season with a little black pepper if you wish. Add one egg yolk and half the other and stir until mixture combines. Pop into a poly bag and chill for about half an hour.
Roll out on a floured board to about 1/4" thick, then cut into strips of the same width.
Cut these strips to the length you require (4" will make about 30).
Place on greased baking trays and brush with the remaining egg yolk then sprinkle over finely grateed Parmesan cheese (or you could use sesame seeds on some).
Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for between 10-15 minutes until golden. Cool on cake airer.
Freeze when cold.