When the baking mood hits you, a batch of biscuits is not only quick and easy to whip up, but extremely satisfying.
These old fashioned recipes can be made by hand, as my mother and grandmother did, or whipped up using an electric mixer or food processor.
For the baking novice, there are a few rules to follow.
Start with the ingredients at room temperature. If your butter is cold, use a grater to break up into small pieces. Otherwise, microwave in short bursts to soften.
To bring eggs to room temperature, take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before you plan to use them. Alternatively, you can warm them up very quickly by placing them in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
Sifting flour and other dry ingredients together helps to integrate and aerate the mixture. Sift onto a piece of baking paper to make it easier to add to the mixing bowl.
When using cup and spoon measures, check that they are Australian Standard Metric measures. An Australian metric tablespoon is 20ml and a cup is 250ml. Many kitchenware shops sell cup and spoon measures that have been designed overseas, where the measurements are different. This can lead to disaster when baking.
When measuring flour using a cup, first stir the flour in its container to aerate and lift it. Then scoop out the required amount, heaping it slightly in the cup. Level it off with the back of a knife. Don’t be tempted to tap or shake the cup, as the flour shouldn’t be packed in.
A more failsafe approach is to weigh all ingredients. Digital scales are a good investment as your measurements will be accurate.
The following recipes are for old fashioned, filled biscuits. So find an excuse to get baking. And may these recipes become some of your family favourites.
Delicate, melt-in-your-mouth treats with a fresh passionfruit filling.
1 cup (150g) self raising flour
1 cup (150g) cornflour
250g butter at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
4 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
60g butter at room temperature
150g icing sugar
pulp 1/2 passionfruit
Preheat oven to 160C.
Sift flour and cornflour.
Cream butter, vanilla seeds and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add flour and mix thoroughly.
Place small spoonfuls on a lined oven tray or use a piping bag with a 1cm star nozzle to pipe small swirls.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Cool on wire racks.
To make passionfruit icing, cream butter, icing sugar and passionfruit until light and fluffy.
Spread a small amount of icing onto the flat side of one biscuit, then top with a matching side and press down gently with a little twist to spread the icing evenly.
Makes 20 filled biscuits.
A classic combination of coconut biscuit sandwiched with raspberry jam and a creamy vanilla icing.
190g butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g brown sugar
1 large egg
150g self raising flour
100g plain flour
¼ (quarter) tsp bicarb soda
75g (three quarter cup) fine dessicated coconut
½ (half) cup raspberry jam
½ (half) tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp milk
190g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180C.
Beat butter, vanilla and sugar with an electric mixer until just combined. Add egg and beat to combine.
Sift flours with bicarb soda and add to butter mixture in two batches, alternating with coconut. Mix well.
Roll 2 tsp of mixture into ovals, place on lined oven trays and flatten slightly with the back of a fork. Allow room for spreading.
Bake for 7-10 minutes.
Remove and cool on trays for a few minutes to firm up, then lift onto wire racks to cool completely.
To make the filling, beat butter, vanilla, milk and icing sugar in a small bowl until fluffy.
Place a small amount of raspberry jam on the flat side of one biscuit and spread some icing on the flat side of a similar size biscuit. Sandwich both biscuits together. Repeat with remaining biscuits.
Makes 28 filled biscuits.
Ginger nuts with butterscotch cream
The butterscotch cream is rich and decadent. These biscuits are also delicious unfilled or try the vanilla icing from the monte carlo recipe.
300g (2 cups) plain flour
1 ½ (one and a half) tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
125g unsalted butter, room temp
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
1 large egg
60ml (quarter cup) treacle
110g (half cup) raw sugar
300g caster sugar
150ml thickened cream (35% fat)
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 180C.
Sift flour, bicarb soda and spices together.
Cream butter and caster sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add egg and treacle and mix well.
Add flour mixture and mix well to combine.
Roll into small balls and roll in raw sugar.
Place on lined oven trays and flatten slightly. Allow room to spread.
Bake for 10 minutes, until crisp.
Remove from oven and cool on trays for a few minutes before lifting onto wire racks to cool.
To make the butterscotch cream filling, melt sugar in large heavy based frypan, stirring with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, add cream and stir until combined. Set aside to cool.
Place butter in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk until light and fluffy. Add cooled caramel and continue to whisk until combined.
Sandwich biscuits together with butterscotch cream.
Makes 20 large filled biscuits.