Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Bunch of Flours

After Xmas, we often find we have run out of sweet and savoury biscuits, so think again before adding to our shopping list. Lets start making our own and release money from the budget for more nutritious foods.

Worthwhile Biscuits: makes about 4 dozen.
1 lb (500g) plain flour,
5 oz (170g) sugar
1 tsp. baking powder,
4 oz (125g) butter, melted
8 fl. oz. (1/4 litre) milk, pinch of salt
lemon or orange rind, or vanilla or almond extract
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl with chosen flavouring. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter and 7 fl.oz of the milk. Mix well and knead to make a firm dough.
Roll out to 1/4" thick and cut into strips 1/2" wide and about 2 1/2" long. Place on a greased baking sheet allowing room to spread. Brush tops with milk then bake at 200C, 400F, Gas 6 until golden. Takes 15-20 minutes.

Water Biscuits: makes 2 dozen
8 oz (250g) plain flour,
1/2 tsp salt.
1 tsp. baking powder,
2 oz lard,
rock or sea salt
Sift the flour with the dry ingredients and rub in the lard. Mix with water to make a firm dough. Roll out very thinly, prick all over with a fork and cut into large (3" +) rounds (you could cut squares if you wanted, like cream crackers). Sprinkle with the coarse salt , place on a lightly greased baking sheet and and bake in a preheated oven 180C, 350F, Gas 4 for 10 to 15 minutes until pale gold at the edges. Cool on a wire tray.
Tip: Use butter instead of lard and the biscuits become more brittle. Use wholewheat flour and you get a rougher, crumblier texture. Add a sprinkle of dried herbs to the flour, or use garlic or celery salt instead of plain, and you can make a wide variety of flavoured biscuits using the basic recipe above.

Corkscrew Biscuits: makes about 2 dosen.
4 eggs, 8 oz (250) icing sugar
4 oz ( 125g) plain flour
Beat the eggs then add the sugar. Beat well, then gradually beat in the flour. Roll this dough into a thin sheet then cut into long, very narrow strips. Lay on a well greased baking sheet and bake at 200C etc. for about 10 -12 minutes until just beginning to colour. Remove from the oven and immediately wrap the strips round wooden spoon handles. If the biscuits set too rapidly to wrap, return to the oven to soften slightly, then continue. Store in an airtight tin.

8 oz (225g) fine oatmeal, pinch salt
1 1/2oz (40g) lard or bacon fat, boiling water,
Put the oatmeal in a bowl with the salt. Add the melted fat with just enough boiling water to bind. Knead in the bowl then turn out onto a board sprinkled with oatmeal. Roll thinly and cut into rounds, fingers or triangles. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 200C etc. for5 -10 minutes or until crisp. Cool on a wire rack.
Tips: Use proper oatmeal if you can, but you could give a quick whizz in a blender to porridge oats and use these instead. If your butcher slices his own bacon then chat him up to sell (or give) you the fatty scraps. Render these down and keep in the fridge for frying eggs and for using in recipes like this.