What is your favourite biscuit?
Is it the humble digestive or the glorious custard cream? Do you go rich tea or hob nob? Would you go for a pack of festive party rings or welcome a box of M&S’s extremely chocolately biscuits (as really it’s an excuse to eat great hunks if chocolate that you are after after all?!).
For me it’s a toss up between the chocolate digestive, the custard cream, the party ring, anything smothered in white chocolate and the jammie dodger. Oh and the leibniz.
Why do you need just one favourite anyway?! I think that would get boring. Variety is the spice of life after all!
As my Jaffa Cake loving colleague is away this week here goes the Jammie Dodger.
I am not a biscuit aficionado and so keen for evenly sized, minimally spread, rounds of joy I did a little reading. This post from David Lebovitz was particularly good. Here are the key points from my reading and experience:
- Do not cream the sugar and butter together. You do this for a cake to make it light, fluffy and airy- exactly what you don’t want in a biscuit. The air you have beaten in will expand and with it will your neatly cut out shapes.
- Use caster, not icing sugar. We want to keep them as solid as possible for as long as possible- the smaller the sugar crystal is the quicker it will melt giving your biscuit more time to flow and spread.
- Stick to white sugar. Brown sugar is moist and won’t help with the desired crunch- save it for American style cookies.
- Keep it fat. Fat has 900 calories per 100g, butter only has 750, with the reduction coming from water, exactly what we don’t want in our biscuits. As we want the buttery flavour I have settled on half butter half lard in this recipe.
- Don’t overwork your dough. Stop playing with it! It will work the protein in the floor like kneading bread and give you tooth defying biscuits.
- Roll your dough as soon as you have made it between two sheets of non-stick paper, lifting it up every few rolls to remove any creases. This means you won’t have to use extra flour which would risk making them tough.
- Chill the rolled out dough before cutting. This will make it easier to lift the shapes up and onto your baking tray without deforming their shapes. If your kitchen is warm this may mean having smaller sheets of rolled dough, keeping the ones you aren’t cutting in the fridge until they are needed.
- Chill your biscuits again throughly before baking. For the same reason as above- this will allow the external structure to cook and set before it has a chance to run into its neighbour. You can do this in the fridge (30mins) or freezer (15mins).
Now I must say when it comes to the jam in the middle it is a time for me to shine. I have an 100% success rate at fully set, solid, cutable jam- a nuisance on toast and the joke of the family but perfect for jammie dodgers! You want to be able to bite into the biscuit without shooting jam out after all.
I chose to practice my jam making again for these using frozen berries as they are much more affordable than the fresh variety. Spending £4 on a punnet of raspberries rather an a £1 on jam does seem like an extravagance and so I intend to save my fresh fruit preserving for free berries hand picked from hedgerows at the side of the lane.
In the end I was rather pleased with the results; crunchy and crumbly biscuits with a sweet fruity middle- delicious! Miraculously my reading had paid off and the biscuits didn’t spread at all (success!) and so get ready for many more photos of biscuits here and on my Instagram @beefandbrioche over the coming weeks. Maybe it’ll be party rings next…
Makes 12 2½ inch jammie dodgers (20-24 biscuits)
For the biscuits
Adapted from the BBC
50g butter, soft
50g lard, soft
100g caster sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
275g plain flour
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- Beat the butter and sugar until just combined
- Stir in the egg, little by little until it is all incorporated. Add the flour and vanilla and combine to make a ball of dough. (This might seem a little crumbly but it will roll together ok- don’t play with it too much)
- Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper to 3mm thick. Pop this in the fridge until firm (about 30mins in mine).
- Once firm cut out rounds, making smaller holes in half of then for the tops. Place this on a new baking tray and pop them back in the fridge for at least 30mins to firm up, or even better in the freezer for at least 15mins
- As they are firming up preheat the oven (fan) to 170°C. Bake for 10-12 mins, spinning the tray 180° after 9 mins, until the edges just start to turn golden. Remove from the oven, put the baking tray on a cooling rack, leave for 5mins to cool before transferring the biscuits directly onto the cooling rack to finish cooling
For the jam
200g frozen berries
200g pectin added jam sugar
- Add the berries as the pectin to a pan and eat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up and boil the jam until it reaches setting point, between 105°C and 110°C if you have a jam thermometer
- If you don’t have a thermometer: Before starting put a plate in the fridge to cool down. When the jam is looking thick and gloopy spoon a teaspoon out onto the plate. You want it to have set in 5 seconds so that it can be pushed and not flow back (remember you want it to be set firmer than normal homemade jam so it does shoot sideways when you bite into it)
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool until you are ready to sandwich your biscuits together
Spoon or pipe the jam onto the bottom halves of your biscuits and sandwich together. Store any you don’t eat straight away in an airtight container.