Our latest guest post comes from Annabel de Vetten, AKA the Cake Conjurer, who will be hosting a ‘Build Your Own Biscuit’ workshop at this year’s British Biscuit Festival. The three-day event takes place at the Brunswick Centre from this Friday (8th June) until Sunday (10th June) and offers Londoners the chance to mix and match the nibble of their choice, take part in food-based tournaments and ‘tea’ dances, and browse many more stalls and workshops.
Biscuit baking always evokes memories of childhood in me. I grew up in Germany, with traditional recipes, but the one that has stuck with me is the German sugar biscuit. These are simple yet delicious on their own, and are like a blank canvas for decorating, or adding flavours and fillings of your choice. My current favourite recipe is by Peggy Porschen, who is also of German descent. It’s very simple and vanilla is the basic flavouring, but this can be substituted for many things. I recommend trying these biscuits plain first, then adding your own touches and getting creative. You’ll be amazed what you can do. Then, of course, get decorating!
Ingredients (for 25 medium-size cookies)
200g unsalted soft butter
200g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
400g plain flour, plus more for decorating
For vanilla cookies, add seeds from 1 vanilla pod
For lemon/orange cookies, add finely grated zest of 1 lemon/orange
For chocolate cookies, replace 50g of the plain flour with 50g of cocoa powder.
1. In a kitchen aid or electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and chosen flavouring until well mixed and just creamy in texture. Do not overwork, or the cookies will spread during baking.
2. Beat in the egg until well combined. Add the flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Gather into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.
3. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead briefly. Using two 1/4 inch (5mm) guide sticks, roll out to an even thickness.
4. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and using a palette knife, lay on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Chill again for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F (Gas mark 4).
5. Bake for 8 – 12 minutes, depending on size, until golden-brown at the edges. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Recipe from Pretty Party Cakes by Peggy Porschen, Quadrille Publishing Ltd, 2006, and featured on Party Times.
I highly recommend Nutella as a topping, or even Nutella Cloud Frosting. It’s beyond delicious.
I personally like to be creative with food, and I’m delighted to be a member of of the Experimental Food Society. We have a big annual event, a Member’s Spectacular, here in London. It’s a two day event and I would recommend it to anyone, not just foodies. I’ll be there with a range of cakes on display and treats to buy.
For further information about the British Biscuit Festival at the Brunswick Centre please visit the Facebook page.