Next week will be biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off. This was my one near success on the show last year although it was the week I was most anxious about before filming began. I must have spent so much time practicing these tricky little buggers that I forgot to practice anything else. Oops.
To get me in the mood for this year’s biscuit-opolypse I figured for this month’s ‘How To Bake’ session on BBC Radio Nottingham I would visit the Jammy Dodger. I can remember reading some years back that, in a poll of the favourite biscuits in the UK, both the Jammy Doddger and the Bourbon came out joint tops. Good choosing UK!
All biscuits, be they dodgers or otherwise, are easy to bake but masterful to perfect. You need to have an almost symbiotic relationship with your oven as timings and hot spots can vary so much between them. Fortunately, unlike so many bakes, biscuits never seem to care if you open your oven door all that much. I will often be found standing guard over my oven, checking every 30 seconds and moving or removing biscuits as appropriate!
Biscuits are a type of sweet pastry so the same rules can apply to both. Cold hands help if you don’t have a food processor. Keep your dough in the fridge at all times. Work quickly when handling the dough and try not to touch it too much. Making sure your dough is rolled out to an even thickness can also not be under-stressed. This will be the difference between half of your biscuits being burnt\undercooked or all looking perfect.
I have always found putting the pre-cooked biscuits into the fridge for 10 mins before I place them in the oven also helps them keep their shape. All the more important if you are using detailed biscuit cutters.
If you follow these simple steps and keep a close eye on your oven, you shall be getting praise from Mary & Paul in no time!
225g Cold Butter
100g Caster Sugar
200g Plain Flour
100g Ground Almonds
1 Jar (Preferably homemade) Strawberry Jam
If you have a food processor, place all the ingredients (bar the jam) into the bowl and wizz until you get a soft ball of dough. You may need to tip the contents of the processor onto the kitchen side and bring it together with your hands at the last min.
If you are doing this by hand, beat the butter and sugar together for a few mins before adding the other dry ingredients.
Cut the dough ball into two, wrap each separately and place into the fridge for the minimum of an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 140c
Take one of the dough balls and cut into 2 again. Working quickly on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼” thick.
Use a round cookie cutter to cut your biscuits. For every second biscuit your cut out, use the end of a large piping nozzle for cutting out a window.
Place cut biscuits onto a lined baking tray and then into the fridge for 10mins.
Take biscuits out of the fridge and place straight into the hot oven for between 20 to 30 mins. WATCH THEM CAREFULLY!
When they are lightly golden, remove from the oven and place onto a cooling rack.
Once cooled, place a spoonful of jam in the centre of each full biscuit and top with a window biscuit.
Serve and eat!
These biscuits will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge but I’ve never known them to last longer than an afternoon!