Thursday, 12 April 2012

Get out in the garden!

 My Mini Greenhouse
It’s National Gardening Week and it’s time to get sowing, mowing, hoeing and planting. I love being out in the open air, remembering how I used to help my dad in the garden at the railway station where we lived. He would grow all sorts of vegetables and fruit which kept Grandma busy later in the summer preserving jams, chutneys and bottling syrups as well as serving up fresh vegetables. I’ve put her recipes into Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking book. But now’s the time to get sowing. I’ve made an early start this year and have tomato, pepper  and chilli plants well on the way inside and French beans, carrots and salads peeping through outside in the ground under cover. So, I’m well on the way to making sure we have a regular supply of fresh produce.

But with all this hard work, we gardeners need a break so what could be better than a mug of tea with a homemade biscuit (or two!). Here’s a recipe I was given from Grandma Morris :
5oz/150g butter
6oz/175g caster sugar
8oz/225g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
3oz/75g plain chocolate (chopped)
Grated rind of an orange
1 tbsp orange juice

Pre heat oven to 350F, Mark 4, 180C. Beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy. Then sift the flour and baking powder straight onto the creamed mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients and work the mixture together until you get a fairly stiff paste. Now roll out into a floured working surface, about ¼ inch thick. Then, using a 2 inch plain cutter, cut out the biscuits and place on the baking sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the biscuits are a nice golden colour. Remove from the oven, leave to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack. Store in an airtight tin.

Hints about making biscuits :
·         Biscuit mixing depends on the type of biscuit i.e. rubbing in, creaming or melting method.
·         The main difference is in the amount of liquid added to the mixture. In almost all cases, just enough liquid is needed to bind all the dry ingredients together as a stiff dough is the usual consistency for most biscuits so it can be shaped or rolled out and cut without crumbling.
·         Soft flour such as rice flour or cornflour can be mixed with wheat flour to reduce the gluten content. You can make tasty biscuits with full Gluten free flour.

·         The type of sugar depends on the type of biscuit. Caster sugar gives a smoother result. Coarser crystals in granulated sugar give a speckled appearance when cooked. The same differences apply to soft brown sugar and demerara sugar.

Don’t forget to take a peek at the National Gardening Week website. It’s all about getting us celebrating and enjoying everything about gardens and gardening everywhere. 

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