Not only do I have a Nordicware Bundt pan addiction, I also love collecting cookie cutters. I’ve hundreds of them in themed plastic boxes on shelves in my garage. I’ve kept them from when I ran my small cake and cookie business and hope to put them to good use again in the near future. A couple of weeks back we were down in Southampton visiting my daughter who is now at uni there. We went out shopping while we were in the city centre and my daughter showed me The Steamer Trading Company cookware shop. We have a couple of branches near where I live in Harrogate and also in Northallerton but it was the first chance I’ve had to look inside. I was so pleased to see a set of cookie cutters which I could use to bake traditional British favourite teatime biscuits. Not only would I get the right shape, as they were plunger cutters they would also imprint the pattern which gives the biscuits an authentic look. The set of four cookie cutters are for Bourbon Biscuits, Custard Creams, Party Rings and Jammy Dodgers. I’ve baked Jammy Dodgers and Custard Creams before but was looking forward to trying out the other two recipes.
For recipe inspiration I used Miranda Gore Browne’s book Biscuit to help me recreate the perfect Bourbon Biscuit, Custard Cream and Jammy Dodger. I used my own Shortbread recipe and adapted it to make the Party Rings and the Empire Biscuits.
On Friday I ended up getting an unexpected day off. I hadn’t baked for ages and I really miss it. I wanted to immerse myself in a bit of baking therapy so on went my Ipod and I lost myself in making up batches of biscuit dough and cutting out the shapes. I tried out Miranda Gore Browne’s recipe for Bourbon Biscuits first. This dough came out quite sticky as it used golden syrup to bind the dough together instead of an egg. I had to heavily flour my rolling pin and the worktop. Miranda’s recipe doesn’t use a cutter as such but you cut out neat rectangles. The chocolate dough smelled wonderful and my will power caved in when I got a bit of dough stuck to my hands!
My second bake of the day was the Jammy Dodgers. I’ve baked different versions of these over the years. Miranda’s recipe is similar to one I’ve used before and she says you can substitute 50g of the flour in the recipe for the same quantity of ground almonds. I went with this although I felt that the cutter didn’t make a clean edge as it came out. The picture shows the edge of the cookie was a bit jagged and there were tiny bits of dough caught in the ridges between the scallops.
The messy effect of the Jammy Dodgers didn’t detract from its taste though. I must admit I succumbed. Third recipe on the list was the final one from Miranda’s Biscuit Book. Custard Creams: another favourite in my house. My teenage son loves custard creams and he must have inherited that from me. I haven’t bought any for ages as I know that once I open the packet, that’s it! If you taste this recipe though, you will never want to buy a shop bought one ever again. Not only do you get a lovely custard flavour, by using Birds’ custard powder in the biscuits and the filling but it gives the biscuit a golden yellow colour.
For the fourth batch of biscuits I created my own version of Party Rings. I used to love Party Rings when I was a child and I bet there isn’t one single person who hasn’t enjoyed these at a party and some stage in their lives. I always used to love the pink ones and loved all the different pastel colours of the rings but as it was time consuming to colour all the icing I decided to stick with one colourway. A couple of weeks back I was over the moon to win a Twitter competition from Sugar and Crumbs where the prize was a £25 voucher to spend on their website. I was going to put in an order to test out the company’s new limited edition Winter flavours, anyway. As well as the new flavours I reordered a couple of favourites, including their Lemon Drizzle natural icing sugar. The Lemon Drizzle icing sugar ended up flavouring my Party Rings. I coloured a quarter of the icing in a bright yellow colour but left the rest in white. Decorating the cookies was quite messy and I left the cookies to drip dry with a couple of plastic mats underneath my wire rack.
My fifth and final bake of the day was to bake Empire Biscuits. These are a huge favourite of mine and every time I go up to Scotland on holiday I can’t get enough of them. I wasn’t intending to bake them with the other cookies to be honest but the cookie dough for the Party Rings made up a massive quantity. I decided to use half the dough to make party rings, the other would make Empire biscuits. I used the Party Ring cutter to make the circles for the Empire biscuits but to make them into Party Rings involved cutting a centre out with a tiny hexagonal cutter.
To sandwich the Empire Biscuits together I used the remains of the jam I’d used to stick the Jammy Dodgers together. Instead of plain glace icing, I chose to use another favourite Sugar and Crumbs flavour of their natural icing sugars. This time I used the child friendly Strawberry Milkshake icing sugar which is quite a sweet icing but very popular. To finish off I sprinkled lots of hundreds and thousands on top of them and left them to dry.
I then divided all the finished biscuits into four and put them into a cupcake box (without the cupcake inserts in the bottom) to share with my friends who I’d be seeing that weekend. There were a few biscuits left over which I put in a tub for Mr SmartCookieSam and my son to eat.
The next few weeks are going to be very busy in SmartCookieSam land so I doubt I’ll have much time for baking as I’m going to be working full time up until Christmas. I might have a go at my Christmas pudding or cake next Sunday if I have time, though.
Love Sam xx