Lemon Empire Biscuits- Mercers Of York Lemon Cheese.

 

I had a fantastic time baking while using my favourite Mercers of York cherry jam, lemon cheese and caramel sauce.
 

A couple of weeks ago when I was at the BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate I went up to the Mercers of Yorkshire stand and stocked up.  I’ve been a massive fan of their sauces, jams, marmalades and chutneys over the past couple of years or so.  Their Lemon Cheese (a bit like Lemon Curd) is absolutely divine and is easily the best out there.  To me though, I wouldn’t just put it on toast, it makes a fantastic baking ingredient.  I got my baking thinking cap on and decided to see how I could use the Lemon Cheese in a recipe.  These Lemon Empire biscuits are gorgeous and are perfect for a Springtime treat.

  

To bake the biscuits I used a simple roll out cookie recipe and added the grated zest of a lemon to it.

Makes 16 cookies (32 cookies sandwiched together)

200g unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

400g plain flour

1 large free range egg, beaten

Grated zest of one lemon.

  • First, preheat your oven to 160Oc (my oven is electric and fan assisted), then weigh out all your ingredients. Cut the butter up into small cubes and add the sugar and flour to the bowl. Gently rub the mixture together until you get fine breadcrumbs. Add the grated lemon zest.
  • Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the beaten egg to it.  Mix this together to form a ball of dough, first with a round bladed knife and then with your hands. When you have the ball of dough, wrap it up in cling film and chill for about half an hour in the fridge.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out to the thickness of a pound coin. Cut rounds of dough with a 6cm diameter circular cutter.  Gather up the scraps and reroll out the dough until it is used up.
  • Put the biscuit rounds on flat baking trays which have been lined with baking parchment. Make sure they are well spaced apart. I usually put 6 biscuits on a tray at a time.  They might need to be baked in batches.  This usually takes around ten minutes.
  • Once the biscuits have been out of the oven for about 5 minutes, I remove them from the trays and put them on a wire rack to finish cooling off.

To decorate the biscuits I sandwiched them together with the Mercers Lemon Cheese.  Once this was done then I made up a simple lemon glace icing.  This was done with 250g sifted icing sugar and about 3 tbsp water to achieve the right spreading consistency. To continue with the lemon theme I added a couple of drops of yellow food colouring to give it a delicate yellow flavour. Over the years I’ve made many mistakes when colouring icing getting a bit heavy handed with the colouring and ending up with something you would be blinded by! Thankfully by using  SugarFlair pastes and a cocktail stick dabbing the paste in bit by bit, things end up looking a lot better.  Finally, I spread the icing carefully on the top of the biscuits and finished them off with a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands.

 

I love sprinkles and hundreds and thousands but despite cleaning and hoovering up, I’m. still finding them all over the floor!
  

A zesty lemon shortbread recipe sandwiched together with Mercers Lemon Cheese and topped with a lemon glace icing and hundreds and thousands.

I love Empire Biscuits, especially the ones with cherries on top and couldn’t get enough of them on holiday in Scotland a couple of years ago.  They tasted fantastic and I came home wanting to bake some myself.  This lemon version went down very well at home and I must admit I caved in and ate one with a cup of tea after I went out running. Well, I did need the energy I suppose.  I only used half the jar of the Lemon Cheese so the rest went in the cupboard for my family to have on toast.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Raspberry Cranachan Cake- Clandestine Cake Club “A Year Of Cake January Bakealong” 

  My regular readers might have seen that I’m a member of the Clandestine Cake Club and that last year I was lucky enough to have two recipes published in A Year Of Cake, the second book featuring members’ recipes.

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Raspberry Cranachan Cake- recipe by Lynn Hill, founder of The Clandestine Cake Club.

Lynn Hill, the founder of the Clandestine Cake Club loves to get members baking. I for one don’t need any excuse but I was excited when Lynn introduced the monthly A Year Of Cake Bakealong on the club website.  Lynn has organised a monthly event, where members are invited to choose a cake corresponding to that particular month in the book.  At the end of the month the participants send their photos of their bakes to Lynn and she does a write up about them.  As there are lots of yummy recipes in the book I was keen to have a go at baking some more of them.

For the January Bakealong there were seven mouthwatering recipes to choose from but I chose Lynn’s own recipe for Raspberry Cranachan Cake. It’s featured as a homage to Robbie Burns and to Burns Night.  My husband’s birthday is at the end of January and I wanted to bake him a cake. He doesn’t have a sweet tooth but likes traditional cakes like Victoria Sponges and Coffee and Walnut cakes. He doesn’t like cakes covered in sugarpaste or overly sweet ones.  I thought the Raspberry Cranachan cake would fit the bill, it was a sponge type cake and it also contains whisky!

According to the recipe introduction the cake is based on all the flavours of the traditional Scottish dessert Cranachan which contains “raspberries, whipped cream, whisky and honey topped with toasted oatmeal. Here it is reinvented as a cake which is just as boozy and creamy as the real thing, not to mention full of Scottish warmth and flavour,”

On my husband’s birthday I ended up with a day at home catching up on the jobs and chores that had been mounting up. Once I’d tidied up and walked the dog I started to bake. I had all the ingredients I needed for the cake including oats, clear honey, flaked almonds, raspberries and double cream as well as all the usual cake staples such as sugar. There was the small problem of the whisky though.  The recipe needed 75ml of whisky plus an extra three tablespoonfuls. I thought my hubby would go ape if I used his special Glennfiddich so I was glad there was a half bottle of Famous Grouse left. Goodness knows where that came from, think one of us won it in a raffle but it did the trick.  My hubby also knows if someone has been at his whisky!

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Just look at that stunning Cranachan topping!

The cake’s oat topping had to be made first and cooled down.  It was baked on a lined baking tray. It felt like I was baking granola as first I put the honey to heat through in a saucepan then added some oats and nuts to the mixture. They were tossed to make them evenly coated with the honey and finally a tablespoonful of whisky got added in. Once the nut topping had baked I left it to cool down while I got on with the rest of the cake.

Butter and sugar were creamed together, then eggs and flour were added in gradually. After that some rolled oats and more whisky were added to the mix.  Two 20cm/ 8″ loose bottomed sandwich tins were greased and lined with the cake mixture being divided between the tins. After about 25 minutes in the oven they were ready.

When the cake came out of the oven and was cooling I whipped up some double cream, adding a tablespoonful of whisky to it at the end. It smelled very alchololic but I couldn’t wait to show the cake to my husband and see if he could guess the secret ingredient.

What a boozy cake but I couldn’t wait to assemble it. I added in some seedless raspberry jam to the filling along with half the whisky cream and some fresh raspberries.  When the two cakes were sandwiched on top of one another I spread the remaining whisky cream on top, scattered on the toasted oats and nuts, then finally finised with the rest of the raspberries.  I’m meant to be on a health kick (meant being the operative word here?!)but who could resist a piece of this delicious cake?

Mr SmartCookieSam loved his birthday cake and so did I!  Our two teenage kids weren’t impressed by the thought of a cake with nuts and whisky in it so they didn’t eat any. We could both taste the whisky in the cake but it wasn’t overpowering.

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A perfect birthday cake for my husband. He said no to the candles though!

Will I be baking the Raspberry Cranachan Cake again? You bet, it was delicious!

To find out more about the fabulous Clandestine Cake Club then visit their website. With over 199 clubs and counting worldwide, there might be one near you!

Clandestine Cake Club

The Clandestine Cake Club: A Year Of Cake is to be found on Amazon and in all good book retailers like Waterstones, WHSmiths and is also for sale in Tesco and Morrisons.  Local retailers may have it too!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx