Home-made biscuits are so delicious and so quick and easy I really should make them more often. The trouble is they’re so tasty I can usually scoff a whole batch unaided and I really can’t afford a whole new wardrobe.
But for those of more abstemious habits and for the naturally slim, here are three of my favourites.
They’re all based on recipes from the late and much-lamented Katie Stewart.
Please note, for those recipes containing golden syrup, if you’re using the squirty stuff rather than the tinned syrup, you will need more. It also affects the cooking times – so if you’re using squeezy bottle syrup, use the shorter cooking time.
Stem Ginger Biscuits
This is a basic gingernut recipe with added stem ginger for a double whammy. Try not to eat them until they’ve had time to crisp up, they really do taste better that way …
100g caster sugar
100g or 2 rounded tbsp golden syrup (add an extra 25g if using squeezy bottle)
225g plain flour
1 level tspn bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 level tspn ground ginger
4-5 chunks of preserved stem ginger, briefly rinsed of their syrup, dried on a piece of kitchen roll and diced.
Heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4.
Grease two or three baking sheets – this is supposed to make 36 biscuits but I never get more than a couple of dozen.
Put the butter, sugar and syrup into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the mixture’s blended. Allow to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, bicarb, salt and ginger into a mixing bowl. Add the saucepan mixture and the chopped stem ginger and work to a soft dough.
Form into balls the size of a walnut and place well apart on your baking sheets to allow for them spreading during cooking.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes – they burn easily so keep an eye on them.
Allow them to cool on the baking sheets for a minute then transfer to a wire rack using a palette knife. They will crisp up as they cool.
These came about because a succession of friends had been to stay and for some reason left behind industrial quantities of the eponymous breakfast cereal.
We don’t eat it much so it sat in the cupboard looking reproachful until one day I was feeling both thrifty and creative.
100g demerara sugar
50g golden syrup (75g if using squeezy bottle)
100g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 level tspn bicarbonate of soda
125g muesli (or substitute 100g rolled oats and 25g finely chopped walnuts or hazelnuts)
Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4.
Put butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan on a low heat and stir until blended. Allow to cool slightly.
Sieve flour, bicarb and salt into a mixing bowl, stir in the muesli, then add the mixture from the pan and mix to a dough.
Grease two or three baking sheets – again, this is supposed to make 36 biscuits but this time I only got 20.
Spoon out rounded teaspoons of the mixture and form into balls the size of a walnut. Place 12 on each baking sheet, spacing them well apart to allow for spreading.
Place in preheated oven and bake for around 10-14 minutes. Swap the baking sheets over if necessary to get them all lightly browned.
Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a minute then remove with a palette knife to a rack and leave until completely cool.
These are a sort of cheese shortbread but it sounds better in French. They are incredibly more-ish and very good with pre-dinner drinks.
6 oz (175g) plain flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 oz (100g) butter
3 oz (75g) grated parmesan or other hard cheese
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water
1 egg white
Poppy seeds, caraway seeds or chopped nuts for sprinkling (or just pop a pistachio kernel on the top).
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the cayenne and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Add the butter in pieces and rub in with the fingertips (or use a food processor). Stir in the grated cheese.
Lightly mix together the egg yolk and water, add to the flour mixture and mix to a rough dough. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead just long enough to remove the cracks.
Shape into a roll about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Wrap in cling film and chill the dough until firm.
Heat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. Grease three baking sheets.
With a sharp knife, slice the dough about 1/4″ (5 mm) thin and place 12 rounds on each sheet.
Lightly beat the egg white and use to brush each round, then sprinkle with the topping(s) of your choice.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.