This week, my son asked if I could send something homemade for him to give as gifts to people he has been working with at a primary school in Benalmadena, near Malaga. Cakes were out of the question but biscuits seemed a possibility.
I made a batch of spiced cranberry and almond biscotti and some oat and cherry cookies and packed them in bags in a padded box and posted them last Saturday morning. They arrived at the school on Wednesday morning, which I thought was quite impressive bearing in mind it was the bank holiday weekend.
So, his Spanish colleagues can try out biscuits baked in England while I hope he will bring home some Spanish delicacies!
I rarely make Millionaires shortbread – mainly because I love it and would find it very difficult to stop myself continually testing it to make sure it was still ok. However, I made some last week as I knew I had people coming around who could help out. It is rather delicious! And if I cut it into small squares, it may not be quite so bad! I remember making this years ago and burning the caramel – maybe that’s another reason why I haven’t made it regularly. I was subconsciously protecting my saucepans.
Anyway, today has been back to baking for The Earl Grey Tearoom, making them a coffee and walnut cake, a cherry Bakewell cake and a lemon drizzle cake as well as some chocolate cupcakes and gluten free scones. And when I have a free hour or two, I need to look through recipes to find some new cakes to try. Now what would the people of Southborough like to try next?
I have been baking biscotti this afternoon, getting ready for the Penshurst Farmers’ Market this Saturday, 7 October. These are pistachio and flaked almond flavour with mixed spice – try them with a cappuccino or a cup of tea, or with a creamy fruit fool.
They keep well in an airtight tin if you can keep them out of reach. I usually find they evaporate – how else would I explain the tin emptying so quickly!
As well as these biscotti, I will have wheat free oat and walnut biscuits (try with some blue cheese), gluten free seeded biscuits (great with cheddar) and gluten free very cheesy biscuits (great with a dry sherry or g&t before dinner). Also good as a pre-dinner nibble are the roasted almonds with smoked paprika.
The Farmers’ Market is open from 9:30 until 12:00 this Saturday in the car park by Penshurst Place – I hope to see you there.
This year, the summer holidays started very early in our household. We collected our youngest from university in mid-June and our eldest arrived home from working in Spain at the beginning of July. As no one had any holiday plans, I hastily arranged a family break in Portugal (warm, sunny and very relaxing) but this has meant we were back home at the end of July, having already had our break, with most other people still with their holidays to look forward to. Never mind, we thought. August at home can be lovely – warm, sunny, places to go. However, this has not been the case.
After the deluge on Wednesday, Thursday had a distinctly autumnal feel to it. The plants in the garden look washed out and battered, as they tend to look in October just before the end of the season. The tomatoes on the plant on my patio are just not ripening.
I have had a busy time baking cakes for The Earl Grey Tearoom – eight cakes and some flapjacks since our return from holiday. As these are freshly baked to order, there is no problem with having leftover cakes to sell. I have also started making more chutney as I delivered another order to Southborough Butchers last week which used up my stock. The autumn fruits are ripening much earlier than the last few years so I ordered two more huge boxes of jam jars ready to be filled with various chutneys – rhubarb & coriander made this week, plum apple & chilli, pear & apple, apricot apple & hazelnut and other flavours to follow over the next couple of weeks and spiced redcurrant jelly, apple & chilli and apple & mint jelly to follow. I have seen cobnuts, rosehips, elderberries, sloes and blackberries already waiting to be picked on my walks in the area. This must be at least 3 weeks earlier than the last few years. I even made a blackberry and apple crumble at the weekend with fruit picked that morning.
When I started ‘Too busy to make’, I hoped it would give me a chance to make foods that I enjoyed making and to sell them to people who would enjoy eating them. Since I have had the regular outlets, this has certainly proved to be the case. I am looking forward to a busy late summer and autumn, making foods to sell at Penshurst, at the Country Fair and Christmas Market at Chiddingstone, at Southborough Butchers and other local outlets.
This week I am back to baking biscuits to sell at the Penshurst Farmers’ Market this weekend, on Saturday 5 August.
These biscotti have flaked almonds and pistachio nuts – great for having with coffee or with dessert. The oat and walnut biscuits can be eaten with cheese – try with a blue cheese or ripe Brie – or with a morning cup of tea. The seeded biscuits go well with any cheese board. Both the oat and walnut and seeded biscuits are made with buckwheat flour so are fine for gluten-free and wheat-free diets.
Having baked all these biscuits, I now need to spend the evening weighing, packing and labelling them ready for selling on Saturday.
The last batch of biscuits have been baked for Penshurst Farmers Market on Saturday 3 June – now they just need to be packaged. These are ginger biscuits, topped with stem ginger and would be delicious with ice cream, fruit, a cup of tea or even with a crumbly white cheese!
I have lost count of how many biscuits that is in total, but I think it is somewhere in the region of 1,000.
I will have tasters available for most of the biscuits so if you are near Penshurst tomorrow morning between 9:30 and 12:00, why not come along and try before you buy.
This afternoon, the kitchen has been filled with the aroma of chocolate biscuits baking in the Rayburn. Rather tempting! Luckily for my waistline, these will be packaged up ready for Penshurst Farmers Market this Saturday 3 June.
All my biscuits are made with organic flour and eggs. I use butter in most of them, as I think it improves the flavour.
Back to baking …… next batch is a savoury one. Watch this space!
I always make biscuits at Christmas and I make savoury biscuits regularly, but I haven’t made sweet biscuits for a while so I thought I would try out a few this afternoon.
Pictured here are vanilla, ginger and lemon biscuits. They may not have the shelf life of shop bought ones, but they do taste good! Try them with your afternoon cup of tea or perhaps with ice cream and fruit for a midweek pudding.
I will be selling these and other types of biscuit at the Penshurst Farmers Market on Saturday 3 June (market is open 9:30 until 12:00) – I hope to see you there!
Each Christmas, I make savoury biscuits for hampers sold by South Downs Cellars. Initially, I made oatcakes flavoured with fresh thyme or rosemary. Last year, I tried a different recipe for oat and walnut biscuits. These contain a small amount of sugar but are not sweet and go well with soft blue cheeses like Gorgonzola or Dolcelatte as well as other rinded soft cheeses like Brie or Taleggio.
As another experiment, I made a batch replacing the wheat flour with buckwheat flour. They are gluten free and taste delicious. The oats and chopped walnuts give them an interesting texture.
I will be adding these to my list of products available to buy – either with buckwheat or wheat flour, depending on your preference.
These delicate wafers are gluten free but full of flavour. I had been reading through various recipe books, looking for gluten free savoury snacks to make for a friend’s birthday but could only find ones using flour substitutes which were not in my larder; so these were an experiment using what I had to hand. They were very popular and I shall keep making them regularly as well as trying out new variations.