Simple Sugar Biscuits: A Recipe
I once again find myself on a Friday afternoon with some time to write. It's funny, isn't it, that considering we are in nationwide lockdown (in the UK at least, although the restrictions are easing slightly) I have even less time than I did before?
Time is a very strange thing: abstract. Abstract nouns are names of things that you cannot see, hear or touch, but you can feel or see the effects of them. Time ravages your body, your mind, or time treats it gently - at once abstract and yet personified.
For years I yearned for "more time" but, like lots of things, the more space you have, the more you find to fill it up with. Since April 11th, I have been furloughed, but find myself busier than ever. I thought that my days would be organised and calm, that the house would magically sparkle like those of the influencers I follow on "The Gram", that the jobs that had been waiting so patiently for me to have "time" would find themselves complete.
Yet that simply isn't the case.
One of the most frustrating things for me about this lockdown hasn't been not being able to see friends or family: I am lucky to live with my husband, and to have the means to use video conferencing to see friends. My family I only see once every month or so anyway, so that doesn't yet feel strange to me. What's frustrated me is that many people seem hell bent on bettering themselves during this three, six, nine week period of enforced isolation and space and, dare I say it, time.
It can leave you feeling overwhelmed and at the same time underwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the sheer possibilities, underwhelmed by your own achievements. I had to give myself a pretty stern talking to in order to shake off the feeling that somehow I was "failing" at the pandemic.
When I am stressed, or overwhelmed, I do one of three things:
1) Write a list, being sure to include things I've already done, of things I have to do.
2) Go for a long walk along the river (three to five miles usually does the trick.
Ok I'm not being entirely truthful here: sometimes I do just eat chocolate.
Well a few evenings ago I was unable to go for a walk, having already used my allocated 1hr of outdoor exercise earlier in the day. I was also unable to eat chocolate because that would have necessitated a trip to the corner shop - and chocolate, as much as I might like to believe otherwise, is not essential. Having said that, my husband would argue it is utterly essential for at least one week a month! I wasn't in the mood to write a list.
I did have some chocolate in the form of baking chips but even I haven't quite reached the lowly depths of scarfing those from the bag.
Therefore the only thing left to me was to bake.
I have quite a few recipe books, but at the moment my baking cupboard is pretty sparse on the ingredients front. I honestly have no idea how people think they can stockpile eggs (although I think now it's something to do with the number of people who would usually purchase breakfast), and flour is really hard to come by. So it follows that I had some but not all essential ingredients and had to resort to "winging it".
Winging it is not always a bad thing. Some of my most successful (not to mention memorable) lessons as a teacher were the ones I found myself winging it. Some of my best colourways in the dyepots have come from just winging it. And sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, my best bakes are from winging it too.
So this week's recipe is going to have lots of variations. Mix and match the ingredients (although be aware you cannot substitute flour for more sugar) and have fun.
I give you simple sugar biscuits.
Simple Sugar Biscuits.
You will need:
A baking tray, or equivalent.
Baking paper, or some marg to really grease that baby up.
Ingredients and their substitutes
Sugar 2.5oz golden caster sugar and 2.5oz soft brown sugar and golden caster sugar
Honestly, any sugar will do. I had granulated sugar - the type you'd use in your tea - and that worked fine! I just used 5oz of that.
Plain Flour 5oz
No need for self-raising or extra bicarb. I used some organic flour I'd managed to score on a rare trip to the supermarket.
1 Egg - size irrelevant.
It's just to help everything bind together. If yours is past the best before date, just pop it (gently) into a bowl of water. If it doesn't float, you're golden. If you can't get eggs then alternatives include Chickpea Flour (use 3tbsp flour and 3tbsp water per egg), corn-flour (same ratio works quite well), or....wait for it... banana puree!
4oz Softened Butter
I didn't have any. Usually I like to use Stork but in this instance all I had in the fridge was Flora - a plant-based butter alternative. Works just fine!
To make it a bit less simple:
1/2tsp vanilla essence
Quite honestly, any sort of flavouring would be lovely here. I quite like using orange if I'm doing chocolate chip, but mint, coconut, or salted caramel also works well. I opted for salted caramel this time, and life's too short to measure so I just poured some in!
6oz Chocolate Chips
The amount really doesn't matter here as all it will affect is how many chips you have per biscuit. You could omit them altogether and omit the essence too, just having the simple sugar biscuits. Or, you could put in coconut, almonds, chopped hazelnuts, fudge pieces, or sultanas. All works! My bag of chocolate chips came to just under 3oz. We didn't feel short changed at all.
Chuck it all in a bowl, whizz with a mixer until a dough forms.
Dollop teaspoon sized dollops onto the baking sheet, leaving plenty of space between each dollop. I fit 6 to a sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 190 degrees C.
I'd love to hear what variations you come up with.
Let me know!