Let’s start today’s blog post with a confession: This personal bake off challenge has been exhausting and STRESS-FUL, BUT it also has filled me with so much joy (Marie Kondo, anyone?). I get excited at the prospect of all the techniques that I will learn, the new recipes that I will have in my repertoire, and also all the things I get to taste (as if I don't eat enough things...)
I am trying to focus on all the positives of this bake off and not worry about all the behind the scenes things-- keeping up with posts, content, and the bake themselves…. But I am trying to get it down in a routine so I bring you better-than-awesome things :) With better proofreading and edits, so please excuse typos in the previous posts.
It warms my little baker’s heart when my friends reach out to help me out with this blog endeavor (here’s looking at you, #lindybakes (yes, you have been mentioned twice, super famous)). Also, I can’t wait to connect with more of you! Emails and comments are welcome, just make sure you continue to #spreadjoy...all the while baking and eating. Yummy!
Okay, I feel better after that little confession! Whew. But I do hope that this inspires you too! Whether it's to dust off that cookie sheet or start watching the show or even doing some writing of your own… I would love to hear about your own personal bake-off-of -sorts.
But the task at hand is biscuit week. If you remember from my last post - I actually didn’t exactly keep to the brief. I made some shortbread (delicious, if I do say so myself) but they weren’t savory. I promised that I would make sure that I got those savory biscuits made. Since I have a growing obsession with Paul Hollywood’s “How to Bake,” I decided to do another recipe out of the book. I mean, the shortbread turned out pretty well, so I figured “why not.” Therefore, I decided to go ahead with Gruyere Biscuits. After all, cheese is my best friend.
I baked these little delights for a little longer than it called for in the recipe (10 minutes). I kept an eye on them and watched for the gentle brown color to appear around the edges. Now, I did notice as they were in the oven, there was a fair amount of spreading - but only SOME of the biscuits. I suspect that this was not from refrigerating again after rolling and cutting. There should be a LITTLE spreading but I wanted to make those nice, crisp edges that Mr. Hollywood and Ms. Berry are looking for.
Sprinkled with salt and fresh cracked pepper after taking them out of the oven...and they smelled SO GOOD! I love how my house smells when baking.
But, wait! There's more. (BONUS)
I decided to give myself a bonus challenge since these little biscuits don’t take a lot of time and to challenge my skills in the flavor department. My own personal twist on the English biscuit - I decided to make an “American” version- and since I recently moved to Texas (#atx)- I figured a BBQ flavor would be appropriate. And that’s how it was born…
My very own: ENGLISH AMERICAN BBQ BISCUITS.
I used the same base recipe for the Gruyere biscuits, but omitted the gruyere. I added a mixture of spices: Garlic Powder, New Mexico Chili, Cayenne, Mustard Seed, Paprika, Onion Powder, and BBQ Seasoning to the flour and sifted into a bowl. I added cubed butter per the recipe and worked through with my hands… but in order to bring together the dough I added a few splashes of milk - I debated about using mascarpone cheese in order to bind the dough and another flavor element… but decided that on my first trial that I would stick with the added spices only.
So with the splashes of milk in the bowl, I then brought the dough together and put in the fridge to rest.
I have to say, I am pretty proud of myself and my English American BBQ Biscuits. I actually feel like that I could have gone stronger/bolder with the flavors of the “BBQ”- of course the #homechef part of me didn’t measure out the spices. I mixed and tasted. Next time, I might add a couple of drops of liquid smoke and make sure that there is a little extra pop of heat in there. A little extra garlic and onion as well. Mascarpone cheese might not be a bad addition - for a little acidity.
Like Samin Nosrat says, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” Of course if you have any tips or if you come up with a mixture of your own, let me know in the comments. The Superbowl is right around the corner (Go #sportsball) so maybe English American BBQ biscuits can sit right next to the seven layer dip. (In case you are wondering my sportsball is Soccer and eating).
As you can see from the pics - the 2 different kinds of the biscuits held their shapes differently, even though I used the same cutter. The different shapes and some of the extra spreading in the fridge got me to thinking that I need to try refrigerating the dough after rolling/cutting AND I think I will add a couple of minutes of light kneading to incorporate the butter a little bit more.
You may be thinking that I am crazy, but hear me out! I know that biscuits need to be “short” but I saw that there were big blobs of butter in the dough as I rolled it out. These little guys are small and I think having smaller butter blobs will definitely help with the spreading (I don’t want all the butter to seep out!) and a little bit of the uneven coloring that I noticed. I definitely won't want to take out ALL the butter blobs...because it did have a delightful flaky texture...but not necessarily that nice snap… So I guess I got an excuse to bake a few more batches to perfect it!
Up next is the technical, which consists of Florentines. One of Mary Berry recipes. My first time using Golden Syrup and making my own candied peel. Stay tuned. Until then, check out some life inspirations on my home page.
Happy Baking. Happy Eating. Happy Repeating.
Don't look at my like that Paul Hollywood... Don't JUDGE ME! Oh wait... judge me. :)
Happy NEW YEAR! As Lil' Kim says: "I've been gone for minute, now I am back at the jump off." I know that anyone that stumbles across this blog- is a HUGE Lil' Kim fan. Anyways, that's all to say that I know I have taken a short break (those 36 mini British cakes, were TIRING) and now I am BAAAAAACK.
But for reals, Christmas to the beginning of the 2019, I needed a little rest... I mean, who doesn't? That doesn't mean I stopped baking/cooking (or eating, for that matter). Fresh Posts on the IG will be up soon. But let's get back to the main event that you all came for- the first #biscuitweek.
Okay, so I had some trepidation of biscuit week because, well, I have eaten many tasty fluffy American biscuits but I don't think I have ever had a true "English Biscuit." In the past few months I have run into a couple of people from the UK... and of course, I ask them very annoying questions, such as: what is a biscuit?
But really-- what is a biscuit- what are the fundamentals of a good biscuit?
It comes down to a nice "snap" -- So a "SNAP" or that crunch when you take that bite. It should have great flavor and if you are making shortbread... it should be short (it's not always about length, yep I went there)... a nice and crumbly texture. And because the ingredients are pretty straightforward-- if you are going to put flavor in there... it better be good. Biscuits started as a no fuss way for sailors and soldiers to get calories - just flour and water. (Read a short fun article "Crunch Time..." here). And now biscuits are a food that is consumed most everyday for Brits. I love these Brits. Dedicated biscuit (cookie) time. I'll take it!
Ok, I know that challenge was to make savory biscuits. Well, I wanted to make some basic biscuits first to feel it out... and since I have taken such a long break - I will also be making savory biscuits as well. (Extra baking things, just for you.)
I decided to start with some shortbread - why not go with one of the most iconic biscuits first? Very smart of me...or very dumb.
Maybe I felt more courage since I was baking a recipe from the one and only, Mr. Paul Hollywood, himself. "How to Bake" by Paul Hollywood - I was so stoked to have purchased it right before starting this #bakeoff challenge and it is definitely coming in handy. I sat down and read the whole thing (nerd alert)... ok I didn't read every single recipe all the way through but I already know that I am going to bake EVERY SINGLE RECIPE in the book-- starting with the biscuits (scroll to the end and get a little bonus on some Cheddar Bacon loaves...told you I have been baking).
Anywho, I figured go to the man himself to get the best recipe. These are Buttery Shortbread Biscuits - I decided to leave them as is before I start adding extra flavors and all that. I have to say all and in all it was pretty easy...and definitely delicious. As I write this blog post. I have eaten two and have one more sitting right beside me. Don't believe me....look below.
The dough was very easy to come together. No extra flour or liquid needed to help it form. Simple enough to roll out. I didn't cut them into triangles or any other shapes free hand... I used a cutter. I decided to also experiment with my "Made-with-love" stamper -- still getting the hang of it. It takes a certain amount of pressure to get the design but then too much pressure splayed out the biscuit dough a little bit. I refrigerated the dough to hold the shape before using the stamp and I should have refrigerated afterwards as well. I didn't get super crisp, even, straight edges.... but I did get that nice snap AND that light, delicate, buttery, flavor. BTW- these are DELICIOUS with ice cream-- I FINALLY had Amy's ice cream since moving to #ATX 9 months ago and made my own flavor of Guinness and Coffee- basically, I am genius. A fat genius.
I think the next kitchen tool I get will be something to measure the thickness of the dough. I have read mixed reviews about the measure mats and the bands on the rolling pins alike...but if anyone has any favorites or go-tos...please let me know in the comments.
As you can see some of my stamps didn't turn out as clear as I would have liked. I am going to keep playing around with the refrigeration time and different doughs to see how to yield the best results. The recipe calls for baking for 20 minutes... I definitely had to leave my biscuits in the oven between 23-25 minutes in order to get the browning at the edges and I did rotate trays between top and middle to get even coloring. This bake came in under 2 hours so I made the "tent time." I will be doing an extra biscuit bake this week to get those savory biscuits in--- Mr. Paul Hollywood's Gruyere Biscuits. Stay tuned.
Until then Happy Baking. Happy Eating. Happy Repeating.
(P.S. If you hear a lot of Gilmore Guys podcast in the videos... you are welcome...that's how I roll when I am baking)
225g unslated butter, plus a little extra for greasing
110g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
225g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusing
Pinch of salt.
BONUS: CHEDDAR BACON LOAVES
This recipe is also from Paul Hollywood's: How to Bake. I found these loaves to be pretty simple. Short double rise time. Anything filled with cheese...I can't resist. I used some grass-fed sharp cheddar, no nitrate bacon, and added spinach to two of the loaves...because, well, I had it in my fridge.
The recipe does call for strong wholemeal bread flour- which I thought that I did have in my pantry... and it turns out I had whole wheat flour...which I used with the bread flour. Probably a more nutty earthy flavor than Mr. Hollywood's. But cheddar and bacon go great with any type of flour :)
400g strong white bread flour, extra for dusting
100g strong wholemeal bread flour
10g instant yeast
30g unsalted butter, softened
330 ml cool water
Olive oil for cooking and finish
8 rashers of smoked bak bacon, rind removed
150g Cheddar, grated.