Archive for March 2014 | Monthly archive page

In order to become a better baker, it is generally accepted that developing your own recipes will not only teach you the art of balance in baking, but this is where you can show some bravery, and feel a sense of accomplishment when you achieve your envisioned creation. If you want to learn to become better bakers, use your imagination, be creative, and surprise yourself!

Baking is a science (almost an exact art), making additions / substitutions all ‘willy-nilly’ will probably get you into trouble. Don’t try and alter a recipe if you haven’t tried it before. In science, whenever an experiment is completed, there is always a control group (called “group-nothing-has-been-changed”) so that scientists can measure their changes / deviation from the norm. It’s the same for us bakers – we need to see all the factors that would be normal, before we alter the recipe (i.e. how long a recipe will take to bake, what is the texture / colour/ flavour).

Take a trusty recipe and alter it in a way that makes something completely new. Don’t be intimated, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll only create a wonderful flop.

We used our basic Vanilla Butter Biscuit recipe and started to make additions. The basic recipe contains vanilla flavour, which actually enhances other flavours, so don’t be afraid to make your addition and add the vanilla. We made 5 varieties – Double Chocolate Chip Cookies; Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies; Peanut Butter Cookies; Apple & Cinnamon Cookies; and Zesty Lemon Cookies.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Make a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” substituting 50g flour with 50g cocoa Once all the flour has been added to the mixture, add 100g white chocolate chips and 100g milk chocolate chips, mix well Chill the mixture for at least 45 minutes Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into the desired shapes and bake on a non-stick baking sheet for 15 minutes. The chocolate cookies tend to spread a bit so make sure you spread them out on the baking sheet. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

CRANBERRY & WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Make a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” as per the recipe Once all the flour has been added to the mixture, add 150g dried cranberries and 100g white chocolate chips and mix well Continue with the original recipe’s method.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Make a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” as per the recipe Once half the flour has been added, add ½ cup peanut butter and mix well. (We used chunky peanut butter to give the biscuit extra crunch). Add the remaining flour and mix well. Chill the mixture for at least 45 minutes. The peanut butter will make the dough softer than usual. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into small balls. Flatten the balls with your hand, place on the baking sheet and bake as usual.

APPLE & CINNAMON COOKIES

Chop 150g dried apple into small chunks. In a bowl mix together 3 tbsp castor sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Toss the apple in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Make a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” as per the recipe Once all the flour has been added to the mixture, add 2 tsp cinnamon and the apple chunks. Mix well. Continue with the original recipe’s method.

ZESTY LEMON COOKIES

Make a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” as per the recipe Once half the flour has been added, add the zest of two lemons and ¼ cup of lemon juice. Mix well. Continue with the original recipe’s method. Whilst the cookies are baking, roll out Nicoletta yellow fondant so that it is very thin. With a knife cut out lemon shapes and press onto the cooled cookies.

Go on… test your limits, and your baking skills. Try any number of concoctions such as: Ground Cinnamon + Crystalized Ginger; Almonds + Almond Flavouring; Raisins/Sultanas + Oats; Hazelnut + Dark Chocolate pieces; Instant Coffee granules + Chocolate pieces; Walnut + Dried Pear; Cherries; Toasted Coconut; Dried Mango + Pecan Nuts; Fresh Orange zest + Candied Citrus peel; Custard powder + Dried Peach.

Don’t forget to enter your cookie creations into our March 2014 Bake Off competition on Nicoletta Bake Club.

This butter biscuit recipe forms a great dough to use as a base for any extra additions/ flavour combinations. It’s also yummy on it’s own.

Ingredients:

250g Butter, softened 140g Castor sugar 1 Egg yolk 2 tsp. Vanilla extract 350g Cake flour

Mix the softened butter and castor sugar together using an electric mixer. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Beat until all the ingredients are combined.

If you are using a free standing mixer, you need to swop the beater for the dough hook before adding the flour. Add the flour to the mixture, one table spoon at a time. Mix well between additions until you have used all the flour and have a soft dough consistency. Place the dough in a plastic bag or wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes to an hour.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into the desired shapes and bake on a non-stick baking sheet for 15 minutes at 180°C or until golden brown in colour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

NOTES

This basic dough can be adapted to suit your taste. Have fun experimenting with different shapes and flavours.  The Nicoletta March newsletter is packed with different flavour combinations. This dough is freezable (defrost before cooking). This dough can also be easily doubled in quantity.