My Grandma has always said: “You can’t be good at cakes and pastry; it’s one or the other.” As with everything Grandma says I have taken it as gospel. She is fabulous at pastry but never seems content with the outcome of her cakes. Her mince pies were legendary in our family until recently she revealed the secret to her success: “It’s lard, my darling!” Since then I didn’t feel so inclined to partake…..
I have used this proclamation of hers to soften the blow of being dreadful at making pastry. The proof? The jam tarts I attempted to make with my class of 10 year olds, mince pies at Christmas time (all disastrous) and receiving my very first birthday cake commission this year (a proud moment). I can do cake. Pastry is my Achilles heel; one reason among many I would fail at The Great British Bake off. I am not one to give up too easily but I also know my strength: I stick to cake.
That being said I’ve never really ventured too far into biscuits… until today. I couldn’t really say why not other than that I didn’t see the appeal. I may have been guilty of thinking they were simple, lacking in versatility and just a bit… well; dull. Despite this I have thoroughly enjoyed my morning of biscuiteering.
I’ll be honest by stating that it didn’t start well. But with ‘growth mindset’ being the buzzword in my work life at the moment I exercised my resilience and persevered.
100g softened butter
100g caster sugar
150g Self raising flour
Simple to make, easy to burn. I should have learnt by now that to leave the kitchen with the door closed means an inability to smell the charcoal being created in the oven…
So, refusing to be bested by a biscuit I decided to try again. This time, with absolutely no reason, I was feeling more confident and opted for doubling the recipe in order to try out some different flavourings. I am unable to provide quantities for those that want it – that’s just not how I cook – but these are the flavours I tried out:
- Almond flavouring and flaked almonds
- Cinamon – hard to tell if they’re burnt or not (I had become a little paranoid about this.)
- Mini chocolate smarties
- Raspberry and milk chocolate shavings. (Thank you to whoever planted raspberry canes in the garden before we moved in!) These needed LOTS more flour and sugar added as the raspberries made the mixture wet and difficult to handle.
I have been very restrained (so far) and only tried a raspberry one which I deemed a success but the true test will be tomorrow when my husband takes them off to work for his colleagues – who will be able to turn down a biscuit on a Friday? I’m sure they will offer some constructive feedback which I can share. Most likely they will enter new requests for cake which will go unanswered until the next school holiday; or until I can perfect a Battenberg which is fit for consumption by the general public….I may be a failure at pastry but there is definitely more than one cake which has yet to be perfected….sorry to disappoint, Gran!