I took a break from my daily blogging as I felt I was letting cancer and heart failure define my days, rather than getting on with just living with my prognosis. I will write again, but not so much of the everyday.
I was going to blog about the making of the bauble wreaths, but I am sure people are fed up of my Facebook feed on that subject – so to get you in the festive spirit, I’d thought I’d share with you a really easy peasy, lemon squeezey, fancy biscuit recipe from the Baked and Delicious magazines I used to get.
I have made these a number of times, and long ago I did a baking session at my Mum’s house with my niece and nephews to encourage them to get into baking too. That day, I was hugely impressed by my Godson who has got the gift of pastry/dough making to a tee. J and L were pretty impressive too. Especially L, as she was a lot younger than she is now.
So here goes…
STAINED GLASS WINDOW BISCUITS. (Ingredients and basic method from Baked and Delicious Magazine, mixed in with light humour and additional method/tips from yours truly.)
Note it looks like a lot of instructions, but it’s not, if you want to skip the story part just head to the very end and the method is there.
1. Wash hands then order Mark to wash hands and reach all the stuff out the cupboards that you can’t reach. Which is basically flour, icing sugar, scales, sieve, star cutters, dough mat and then the tray for the scales as he has managed to put a Chinese takeaway container on the scales by mistake.
2. Find the mixing bowl, blunt metal knife, a variety of serving bowls of different sizes, cornflour, boiled sweets, lemon, butter, rolling pin (which is stored in the oven grill of all places…) and desert spoon by yourself. Ask Mark to find the mandolin and blades to grate the lemon peel with. (More on this later.) Remember you have to make a very important telephone call so make call and wait fifteen minutes on hold to have someone tell you that you can’t pay this particular bill over the phone but you can online or by cheque . Swear loudly in your head but say a polite thank you to the person on the other end.
3. Decide you need a wee. Remember your going to blog today’s baking escapades and go find iPad after washing hands thoroughly. Twice. Once for after weeing and once after handling iPad.
4. Measure out dry ingredients first starting with 7oz of plain flour. Sieve into mixing bowl. Add 1oz of cornflour also sieved into the same mixing bowl. Combine the flours using a blunt knife or desert spoon. Next weigh out 2oz of icing sugar and put this in a suitable dish for later.
5.Ensuring your butter is very cold, place 3 1/2oz onto your dough mat (work top, marble/glass chopping board) and cube. Hear the phone ring and ask Mark to answer it as you have butter on your fingers. Find out the call is for you, wash hands, go speak to caller. Who, incidentally, is someone you like and are happy to chat to, someone who is supplying you with baubles from the charity shop they work at, so you will always make time for this person. After the call remember your meant to be finishing two Christmas bauble wreaths later and wonder if you will have the energy to.
6. Wash hands, then run them under cold water unless like me your taking biseporol and it turns out really useful to have freezing hands and nerve damage anyway, as you don’t want to put hot hands on the butter.
7 Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Sing along to the Radio and dance about to ensure circulation to your feet. Marvel that it takes less time than you imagined it would to get the breadcrumb consistency. Marvel how great biseporol is as this is the best bit of breadcrumb making you have done in years, maybe even ever.
8. Get evicted from the kitchen counter your working on (our kitchen is tiny) while Mark makes his lunch and had to get bread, butter and meat from the various cupboards above your head and the fridge by your feet.
9. Have another wee. Wash hands, sneak back to kitchen doorway and stare at the lemon to decide is it best to cut lengthways or across. Pick lengthways as it seems easier to grate. Try and squeeze the juice from both halves of the lemon without having a plastic thingy that does it. (Santa I’ve been good.) Find there are still things you cannot do after chemotherapy. Ask Mark to please squeeze lemon after he has made his sandwich. Open tin of boiled sweets to see what they look like, and what exciting colours you might have.
10 . Once lemon juice is in a handy small bowl, take half of the lemon and grate it with the smallest knobbliest fiddliest blade you have. Miraculously, do not skin your knuckles while doing this. Keep turning the half lemon to ensure you have all the zest falling nicely into the bowl of icing sugar. As its too much work getting tiny bits of zest out of another bowl.
11. Tip the lemon zest and icing sugar into the flour. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice to the mix. Gently combine with a blunt knife until combined. For some completely unknown reason bite into the half lemon flesh that is left after zesting as you want to see how sharp it is and you feel a bit hungry.
12. Realise this was a stupid idea as your eyes and mouth water. Drink a huge glass of water. Put the other unzested bit of lemon in clingfilm in the fridge. Drop a few drops of lemon juice into a fresh glass of water. Put cling film over lemon juice later and store in fridge.
13. Get your hands into the bowl and finish making the dough by gently manipulating and kneading it. Find out that you don’t have great stomach muscles even though your going to heart rehab sessions and discover how weak you still are when it comes to pushing down on cookie dough. Get out of breath and sit down for five minutes.
14. Return to making perfect dough then stop and construct yourself a cream cheese, tomato and mixed herb bap, watch the end of Bargain Hunt while you eat lunch and take your meds. While you rest, so does the dough. If before you stop for lunch haven’t managed to achieve the right consistency and your dough cracks when you shape it ready to roll out then you may need an extra drop of lemon juice. If on the other hand it’s too soft because the butter has melted too much, chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
15. After lunch wash hands then open the oven and remove all the trays and Pyrex dishes you keep in it. Find three same size baking trays and line with grease proof paper. Light oven Gas Mark 4 or 180C Now depending on your technical ability either roll out the dough in a massive 1/4inch thick giant circle or roll out mini circles of the same width and cut out star shapes using one of the bigger sized cutters.
16. Depending on your star and tray size put as many biscuits as possible on the tray but ensure they do not touch each other, and allow at least 1/2inch for them to expand in any direction. Once you are satisfied they are evenly spaced, take a smaller star cutter and cut out the centre of your Stars. Chuck the smaller stars into the mixing bowl.
17. Once you have a single tray filled with stars pop them in the oven for 4 minutes. Set an alarm if necessary. Especially, if you have a brain like the sieve you used earlier and forget to look at the clock on the wall.
18. While the first tray is baking fill up the other trays with stars. When the timer is up remove first tray from the oven and place a boiled sweet in t e centre of each star. Pick a different colour for each star so you can see how they look, unless you only have single colour sweets. Return to oven for around 6-7 minutes.
19. Collect all the tiny stars from the mixing bowl,and roll out another 1/4inch thick dough ball and make more stars. When timer goes off take first tray out of oven, put tray somewhere safe to cool down, put second tray of stars in oven for 4 minutes.
20. Fill third tray with stars, take second tray out of oven, put sweets in stars, return to oven for second bake. Start washing up.
21. Gently lift each star off first tray and put on cooling rack. Refill tray one with new stars, using the dough from scraps, and middle bit of stars.
22. Take out second tray of complete stars put the tray somewhere to cool, put third tray in oven for short bake. Continue, washing up.
23. Take third tray out of oven fill stars with sweets, return to oven. Put stars from cooling rack onto a plate, take stars from second tray out and onto cooling rack, fill second tray, which is now number five and you should get the last few stars on here, make any small shapes out of any remaining dough but do not use cutters. A few little balls or tiny stars are good. Finish washing up. Wipe down work tops.
24. Take third tray out of oven, put to cool. Put fourth tray in oven for short bake, put stars from third tray on cooling rack, after removing second lots to the plate. Throw away the grease proof paper and wipe tray ready for storage. Realise you’re getting very tired and long for the comfort of wreath making as at least that’s a sitting down thing.
25. Start drying up and make a cup of coffee using 1/4 teaspoon of hazelnut coffee as this is as much coffee you can handle without a racing heart or hot flush. Take fourth tray out of oven, fill stars with sweets. Continue drying up.
26. Take fourth tray out of oven to cool, put fifth tray into oven. Finish drying up. Take out fifth tray fill stars with sweets return to oven, marvel at how much your legs and wrists are killing, but take comfort your on the home stretch. Remove third lot of stars from wire cooling rack to plate. Put stars from fourth tray on said rack, throw away grease proof paper and wipe tray for storage. Ask Mark to put all the stuff back,in the cupboards you can’t reach.
27. Finally do a happy dance that the timer for tray five has gone, switch off oven, take out tray five, leave to cool. Put stars from cooling station to the pile on the plate. Go sit down for at least ten minutes then move final stars to wire rack, but eat all of the small biscuits that have no sweets in them just to test how nice they are. Clean tray. Put al, trays and Pyrex dishes back in the oven, including the wooden rolling pin so it dries completely.
28. Eventually put remaining stars on the plate to ensure they are thoroughly cooled before transferring into storage tin/barrel/bag,
1. Measure Ingredients.
2. Mix both flours then rub cubed butter into flour until breadcrumb consistency.
3. Squeeze lemon juice into a glass/bowl and zest 1/2 of the lemon into the icing sugar.
4. Put zest, sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into breadcrumb mix.
5. Combine with blunt knife, then hand form the dough.
6. Roll out and use 2 star cutters to make stars. Use both cutters for each star.
7. Bake for 4 minutes, remove from oven put a sweet in centre hollow of each star return to oven.
8. Check at 6 minutes that they are pale gold colour. Do not go darker as dough will taste burnt.
9. Remove and allow to cool before moving to wire ra k to cool completely.
So that’s it for now. If you would like any more blogs from me on baking or whatever, just leave a message and I’ll see what I can do.
Until next time. Stay positive.
Love Amanda xx