It’s biscuit week and I feel a wave of nostalgia. I’ll be honest that I wasn’t especially worried about biscuit week before it started back in 2011. You see I’d taken my macarons to the audition so I knew they were okay with Mary and Paul (should they not have been abbreviated by now to ‘Pary’ or ‘Maul’? I think Maul is better, more fitting).
My signature biscuits were small but perfectly formed custard melts with custard cream filling and homemade strawberry jam. (Yep, I made the jam, I was really that keen). I knew they were tasty so I was quietly confident as Paul shoved a whole one into his mouth. He raised an eyebrow and made some comment about me clearly being a southerner given the biscuits were so small.
He had no idea how much that little comment cut deep. I was at university in the north and was constantly labelled ‘posh’ for my accent. I then lived in London for years in a ridiculously Oxbridge infected ad agency (as all ad agencies were back in the 00’s before it became cool to have a regional accent) meaning my intermittent short vowel sounds were labelled ‘cute’ and ‘darling’ with a faint side serving of pity. This never fitting in-ness is the fate of Midlanders. We are neither. We don’t have an identity. Just from somewhere in the middle that someone once drove past. (Though I am having my day now, what with the discovery of Richard III in a Leicester car park and that small matter of the Premiership win).
Anyway, I needed to get that off my chest. I feel like these weekly Bake Off recipe posts are like therapy. Thank you. Here are some pictures of my macarons. (Including an excellent pouty version of the ‘I am really worried about these baked goods’ face which is important to perfect for any Bake Off contestant. You heard it here first). Oh and as an added bit of trivia, did you know that Lily Allen woman tweeted that I was cheating for using macaron shells of the same colour. Fool. Bet she’s rubbish at making macarons. About as rubbish as I am at singing.
Not sure orange is my colour. Also, bit of Bake Off trivia here – out tech challenge on biscuit week back in 2011 was brandy snaps. Did you know poor Jo’s oven (as in the winner of that year) was set to defrost? Our ovens were pre heated for us. Obviously her brandy snaps didn’t bake properly and she didn’t scream, cry or throw anything. That is dignity for you. Jo was lovely then, and continues to be so.
And just for fun here are some pics of me making and then worrying about brandy snaps. I actually think I may look younger now then when competing in GBBO, such was the stress. I also wish I’d bought some really good foundation. My skin looks very spotty and red. Oh well.
Anyway, onto the recipe. This week I am giving you an oaty cookie recipe with a hint of coconut. If you hate coconut please just replace it with more oats. Simple. I know how frustrated some of you get about my coconut obsession. All I can say is, I am sorry. But sorry enough to change.
Lots of great recipes like this in my books, Recipes from a Normal Mum, (available on Amazon, at The Works, Waterstones, WHSmith, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets) and The Power of Frozen (available through Amazon).
Two years ago: Salmon and asparagus quiche, Rosemary chicken Dijon stew, Lemon, blueberry and white chocolate cupcakes, Apple, ginger and maple syrup cake and my Grandma’s Cornish ginger fairings from my book
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 30 ish
- 250g soft salted butter
- 150g dark, soft brown sugar
- 150g self raising flour
- 190g porridge oats
- 40g desiccated coconut
- 200g raisins
Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas 4. Line four baking trays with non stick baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar for 4 minutes in a stand mixer using the flat beater starting low speed and working up, or 6 minutes with a handheld electric mixer or about 8 – 10 minutes with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be lighter in colour than when you started and very creamy. Add the flour, oats, coconut and raisins then mix well until combined. Take pieces a little larger than the size of a plum and form into a ball using your hands. Place on the baking tray and squash down a little until your ball is about 1cm high. Continue until the dough is all used up and remember to space the biscuits about a biscuits width apart. Bake for around 20 minutes until the edges are starting to go a little golden but the middles will still look uncooked and soft and puffy. Leave to harden on the tray and when you’re happy they won’t fall apart – about 20 minutes later, transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight tin.
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