Empire biscuits – a household favourite

Empire biscuits

A tasty favourite!

MrFoxyBakes hails from Scotland. A few years ago he introduced me to some very tasty biscuits called Empire biscuits. You can get them in most supermarkets north of the border. We would always bring back a few packs of the lovely treats, but we would miss them when we ran out.

So, I did some googling and ‘lo and behold, I found a recipe. A few actually. And I think I finally found the one we like the most.

What makes en empire biscuit so special is the combination of jam, thick icing and a little sweet on top. Yum. They’re rich, but so delicious!

This is the recipe I now use. It’s in imperial measurements, which I haven’t bothered to convert, as my scales do both… The recipe is from the Hairy Bikers’ Mums Know Best programme.

6oz butter
6oz plain flour
2oz icing sugar
2oz corn flour
Strawberry or raspberry jam
24 glacé cherries (I hate glacé cherries, so I use little sugar coated squishy sweets. I get them in Waitrose in the baking section.)
Icing:
Icing sugar
Water

1. Mix the ingredients into a bowl until you have a ball of dough in your hand. My advice would be to pop it in the fridge for a bit, as I found the dough too warm and soft to roll and cut.
2. Roll the dough with a floured rolling pin and create a circle about ¼ inch thick.
3. Use a cooking cutter to prise out 24 circular shapes. I never found to get 24 shapes, so I must be using a larger cutter. I don’t mind though, as I get about 16, so 8 biscuits, which is 4 each and that’s about right in our house as they don’t stay right for longer than a few days.
4. Place the 24 pieces on a baking tray.
5. Place in oven at 180ºC for 10-12 mins.
6. Remove from oven before golden brown.
7. Leave to cool.
8. To ice the biscuits mix icing sugar and water in a bowl.
9. Put strawberry or raspberry jam on 12 of the pieces and top with the other 12 pieces.
10. Ice the biscuits, using an icing bag. (I don’t use an icing bag, I use a palette knife and make sure the icing is properly thick, just about spreading consistency)
11. Pop a glacé cherry (or sweet in my case) on the top of each biscuit for decoration.
12. Eat! Just not all at once as it will make you feel ill. Trust me…

The Bake Off – my thoughts

So, it’s been a week since the Bake Off final and John won it! I really did not have him down as a potential winner, but he came up trumps when it mattered and I’m very pleased he won. I really hope he gets to go to Paris and become a patissier extraordinaire! He deserves it.

I think James will be just fine. He will set up some crazy bakery and write tons of books and will probably get a TV deal at some point. I like his attitude to baking, I really wish I was as unflappable as him!

As for Brendan… well… His baking was of a really high standard, but as a homebaker I just couldn’t relate to his bakes. He was also way too traditional for my liking, and he hardly experimented with flavours. He never seemed to push himself, whereas the others did.

I am sad it’s done for another year. But I celebrated by doing some baking this evening for my first ever Clandestine Cake Club meeting tomorrow! It’s a Dutch Spiced Apple Cake. I’ve made it before for MrFoxyBakes’ birthday treat at work, but never tasted it. That shall be rectified tomorrow!

The Great British Bake Off – semi final!!!

It’s semi-final time people! How very exciting! We have left: Brendan, Danny, James and John. And it’s French week and there’s a shot of a snail. Yuk. That’s for the snail, not French week as I love French baked good. Which reminds me, I still need to blog about Paris. I will do that this week. I also need to blog about the spiced apple cake I made for MrFoxyBakes’ birthday at the weekend.

Let’s see what our bakers come up with in the signature challenge: petit-fours. Delicate! Ooooh, macarons. Dangerous… And chilli sugar… James… Really? If that works, hats off to you, my friend. And I will want your recipe. I am still on my journey to find the perfect macaron, as well documented on this blog, so my sympathies to the bakers. MrFoxyBakes has said he’ll be able to make perfect macarons, by applying his chemistry skills and common sense. I may put him to the test and blog about it…

Anyway, back to the bake off. Quite conservative flavours, apart from James with his chilli sugar! Well, Brendan’s swans look very dainty. And James! Water with your chocolate… Eeep, you brave man! And wow, you pulled it off, you clever man. And this is why I like James to win, he tries out new techniques and flavours, Brendan is just too much in his comfort zone for my liking. And I think it will be between these two for the final.

Danny’s macarons look amazing, that purple, beautiful! And an interesting combination of flavours, blueberry and peppermint. Interesting!

Technical challenge, blimmin‘ heck. ‘Make a génoise sponge’. Now, that’s bare as James said. I have yet to make a génoise sponge, I have some good recipes in my Leith’s Baking Bible, so I will have to give this a go at some point. And why why why do they need to use marzipan? Otherwise this fraisier sounds amazing… I wonder if fondant would do the job… Oh no, poor Danny, her creme patissiere hasn’t set properly. And nor has Brendans, so he’s not perfect after all.

And we have three gateaux St Honoré. I never had one, but I am planning on making one for a special occasion, maybe for Christmas. And James is making a Paris-Brest, another cake I have yet to tackle. I do worry a bit about him not really planning his bakes though.

I do feel sorry for John, it’s not his week, but I’m loving the sound and look of James’ slightly improvised attempt at a bike… But even though John worries, his bakes have worked out well this week.

Well, my vote is James for star baker. I think John will go home.

Yay James! Star baker!

Who is going home?

It’s Danny… Wow, did not expect that really.

The Great British Bake Off – week 8

Five bakers left, does this mean we only have three episodes to go?

I am multi-tasking on this post: watching the Bake Off, whilst blogging and getting some wedding photos ready to go on Facebook… So, crisp bakes. Yum! I’m liking the sound of Danny’s Moroccan crisp bakes. But oh dear, Kathryn doesn’t have a good start to the week, they look very dark.

Oooh, tea cakes, lovely. But in that heat, not great baking weather… That heat must be punishing! And I do wonder if Kathryn’s decision not to chill is going to be an issue… And it was…

Up next, gingerbread ‘structures’. DON’T make a house as Paul will smash it! Some of these structures look very impressive… on paper… Let’s see what happens when they need to be constructed!

Interesting to hear about the history of gingerbread. In Holland, you get speculaas, which is very similar. Actually, now it’s autumn I will just have to make some. I have little molds as well to make the biscuits.

Well, back to the structures, Brendan’s looked amazing! So neat! And well done James for star baker! Go James! I do like James.

Oh, poor Kathryn. I guess we saw this one coming.