A couple of weeks back I was shopping in my local Sainsburys and spotted the latest in the series of 30 Best Loved Recipes where each week a new recipe book is issued featuring a well known food brand. This was the fifth book in the series and featured Bonne Maman jams and compotes. I have always liked Bonne Maman jam both on holidays in France when I was younger and later on by buying it in the UK. I knew I just had to have this book to add to my growing collection. I had promised myself I would not buy every issue, only ones which would appeal to me and to my family. The little books are only £2.99 which doesn’t sound much but they say there’s going to be 80 of these books! I can’t see me spending nearly £240 on books and even so where would I put them all?
However, I couldn’t wait to get home and make something from the Bonne Maman book. I had popped into Harrogate Sainsburys on the way home from work so I sat in Starbucks eating my lunch and looking through the book. Immediately, being a baker I was drawn to the cake and biscuit recipes. What’s new about that? But also I knew it had to be a recipe which featured strawberry jam as this was the only jam I had got at home.
I saw the jam sandwich biscuit recipes and thought I had to make them. They were plain jam sandwich biscuits sprinkled with caster sugar as half of the biscuits in the picture look like. Some had star shapes cut out of the middle like jammy dodgers or Linzer biscuits. I decided to stick with the plain ones and to add a decoration to the top of the others instead. More of that later.
As soon as I had got home I went off on a long dog walk. As I was walking the dog I thought constantly of getting back to bake, surely this must be a terrible addiction. All I can think of is when I’m going to get my next baking fix!
So, as soon as I was home and the dog was snoring away on his bed I set to in the kitchen. On went the apron, out came the baking trays lined with parchment and my circular cookie cutters.
First, I sieved flour into a large mixing bowl, along with some caster sugar and a pinch of salt. This was closely followed by cubes of cold butter which was rubbed into the mixture until it became fine bread crumbs. I then had to add half an egg (very difficult to gauge half) along with a spoonful of vanilla extract. The recipe also suggests to add orange zest. When I looked in my fruit bowl there weren’t any oranges left which was a surprise, they’re usually the last to linger in ours! Obviously I had to leave it out.
The dough combined really well and according to the recipe I needed to cut out the shapes, put the shapes on their baking trays in the fridge for an hour and then bake them. This method was completely new to me, I usually chill the dough in a ball for half an hour and then roll it out. I did not have room in my fridge to put three full baking trays so I completely cut out the chilling process.
Into the oven went 40 plain fluted circles of shortbread dough. I had limited time to get the cookies baked before my children got in from school so a long chilling time was not practical for me. The dough had to be baked in two batches but each batch only took 10-12 minutes as I did not want my cookies to be too burnt! They smelled delicious and it took all my willpower not to snatch a couple off the tray.
As the cookies were cooling down I decided to make myself a cup of tea. As I was getting the milk out of the fridge I spotted a bowl of leftover royal icing covered in cling film from a couple of days previously. I knew it would probably go to waste so I decided to get it out and spread it on some of the cookies and top them with a cherry on top to look like Bakewell tarts. I drank my cuppa, enjoying the peace and quiet then thought I’d better finish off the cookies.
I had just enough Bonne Maman strawberry jam left in the jar to sandwich the cookies together. I love the Bonne Maman strawberry jam as it is not gloopy and you get really big strawberry pieces in the jam. It reminds me of what homemade strawberry jam should taste like. I am not at all experienced at making jam but I know what tastes great and what doesn’t.
Half my jam sandwich cookies got the caster sugar sprinkle treatment and the remaining half were given royal icing and a glace cherry on top. They were quickly assembled and I was in the middle of clearing up when I saw my children’s school bus go past. In came my children followed by the cat who had been running around the garden. Before I could say I had made some cookies and they could have one my son grabbed one off the cooling rack. He was sharply reprimanded and told to get changed before he could have one.
I tasted one of the iced ones and to be honest I found the icing far too sweet for my liking. It had been on top of some cupcakes earlier on in the week. I ended up throwing it in the bin. I took one of the sugar sprinkled ones and it was delicious. My children both agreed with me that the icing was too sickly.
Love Sam xx