So it has been a while since the last post from Bee’s Teas. Apologies for the delay – sadly reality, work and Christmas have all clashed at the same time and Bee’s Teas has had to go a bit quiet for a while. However, now with the festive season in full force, things are back on track and ready for some exciting developments in 2012! And what better way to be back than with a recent exciting venture – The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.
Set up across the pond by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen (and brought to the UK by popular demand), this challenge helped to share the cookie love across the country. Food bloggers signed up back in October, and received the addresses of 3 other bloggers who they had to send a dozen cookies to each. The rules were simple: do not reveal who you have before sending the cookies; all the cookies must be home-made (and the same recipe); and you have to blog about your recipe. However, the best rule of all was the fact that you also received 3 dozen cookies in return from other very talented bakers 🙂
I decided to make Lemon and Poppy Seed sandwich cookies, mixing up a few recipes to make my own. Lemon is one of my favourite ingredients to bake with – after chocolate of course! Lemon and poppy seeds are just a natural combination, especially for cake and muffins, so I decided to use them for this. I used strong bread flour as I have experimented with it a few times in cookies and it creates a nice crumble texture which lasts longer than normal flour. I found the recipe very easy to throw together, and the dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week – so for all you busy bees it can be made in advance!
250g butter (softened)
300g strong white bread flour
140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
30g poppy seeds
1/2 tsp lemon extract (optional)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Add the egg yolk, lemon extract, poppy seeds and lemon zest and beat together. Sift over the flour and then stick your (clean) hands in and combine the mixture together until it forms a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a sausage shape – I actually found that it was easier to divide up the dough and make 4 sausages. Wrap them each tightly in cling film and place in the fridge for around half an hour. At this point, the dough can be left in the fridge for up to 7 days.
About 10 minutes before removing the dough from the fridge, pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4, and line a baking tray. Remove the dough from the fridge and carefully slice them into discs using a bread knife. I cut them up so that they were slightly thicker than a £1 coin. Place the discs on the baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. It is very important to keep an eye on them whilst they are in the oven because they can burn in a matter of minutes. Once cooked, leave them to cool on the tray for a few minutes (as the cold air will firm them up quickly) and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Whilst they are cooling, put around 200g of icing sugar in a bowl, add some of the lemon juice and mix until the paste has a smooth but thick consistency – too runny and it will not stick the biscuits together. If it is too runny, just add more icing sugar (and similarily, add more lemon juice if it is too thick). When the biscuits have cooled, put a teaspoon of the icing on the base of 1 biscuit and then stick it to the base of another biscuit (and repeat until they are all paired up). Have some extra icing sugar to hand as you may need to make some more filling if you are being generous.
The lemon extract is optional however it just gives it an extra zesty-ness 🙂 Extra poppy seeds can also be added but I would recommend no more than 50g. My biscuits looked very messy but they were yummy, which is all that matters.
In the Cookie Swap, I was lucky enough to receive cookies from 3 fantastic bakers:
- Julie Bradhen – tasty Molasses which were crunchy with a slighty chew in the middle.
- Alison McKenzie – delicious Chocolate Orange Chunk cookies which proved highly popular in my office.
- Nelly’s Cupcakes – amazing Christmas cookies with the most beautiful decorations (not to mention the yummy taste).
Sadly Alison’s cookies got eaten before I could photograph the 3 together (and most of Julie’s got munched away too!), however below is what I have left over after a very happy tummy week, roll on the next Cookie Swap!
If any of you fancy signing up to next year’s cookie swap, please click here. Enjoy 🙂