This week was episode 4 of The Great British Bake Off: The Biscuit Adventures. Biscuits are amazing as they are so versatile. They can be melty, crunchy, soft, gooey, chocolatey, jammy….. (I think that you get the point!). However they are more delicate to bake than cakes, as an extra minute in the oven can turn them from masterpiece to disaster. I learnt this last week making a batch of cookies: when the timer went off, I spent an extra minute laid on the sofa before getting them out of the oven, resulting in them being burnt and crunchy as opposed to soft and gooey.
So much can be done to create a unique biscuit and this week’s episode proved this. All the contestants used their knowledge and creativity to produce some yummy treats in the signature bake, including Lavendar Biscuits by Jo, Chocolate and Ginger Oat Biscuits by Rob and delicate little Strawberry and Custard Melts by Holly.
The technical bake saw the contestants tackle Brandy Snaps which proved much harder than they look. The showcase was a Macaron feast, during which the contestants had 5 hours to produce 3 different flavours (all of which looked stunning). One of this week’s star bakers, Holly, has created a mammoth step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect Macarons, visit her blog Recipes from a Normal Mum for more details. Jo has shared the recipe for her biscuits on her blog Jo’s Blue AGA, and more recipes from this week’s episode can be found on the BBC Food website.
So, inspired by the biscuit bake off, I decided to post a really simple and yummy biscuit recipe which I stumbled across in an old cookbook (and adapted to satisfy my obvious chocolate need): Nutella Swirls. These are fantastic fun to make with kids, look yummy and are perfect with a cup of tea!
250g plain flour
60g finely chopped hazelnuts (roasted)
100g butter (chopped in cubes)
125g caster sugar
1 egg (lightly beaten)
2 tablespoons iced water
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4 and line two baking trays. Place the sifted flour, chopped hazelnuts, butter cubes and sugar in a bowl. Using your fingers, rub the mixture together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix the beaten egg with the iced water, add to the breadcrumb mixture and then mix with a wooden spoon/hands until the mixture forms a dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth (around 30 seconds).
Place the dough in between a large sheet of baking paper on the bottom, and a sheet of cling film on the top (this will prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin). Roll out into a rectangle (around 25 x 35 cm), remove the cling film and trim the edges. Now my favourite part: spread the nutella all over the dough. 100g should be enough, but if you need to add a bit more then do not be shy! Using the baking paper to lift the dough, roll up from the long side like a swiss roll, ensuring that you wrap it as tightly as possible. Once rolled, wrap it in the baking paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 1cm slices, wiping the knife clean between each slice. Place the slices on the trays and bake for around 12 – 15 minutes (or until golden). Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
These biscuits can be stored in an air tight container for around 3 to 4 days. They are wonderful and crunchy, perfect with hot custard or crumbled over ice-cream!