Baking - the quick, easy and delicious way


Anyone who knows me (or has had even one conversation with me) knows that I LOVE baking. Macarons, elaborate cakes with fondant sculptures, multi layered rainbow delicacies - I'm an amateur, but I'm ambitious. I love being creative and challenging myself to take things to the next level. My baking bible is the Sprinklebakes book - it's amazing.

Today however, is a DIY not for something colourful and gravity-defying, but for the most foolproof and quick way to create delicious baked goods from scratch. These biscuits are usually best in the form of choc-chip cookies, but the beauty of them is that you can add anything you thing would be good mixed into a biscuit.

The recipe I used (roughly) for these came from the first book I pulled out of the cupboard - a class cookbook from Year 8.

Versatile Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 160g brown sugar*
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract*
  • 220g plain flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Approx. 1 cup** of your chosen mix-ins***
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Cream together butter and sugar until light and creamy.
  • Add egg and vanilla and beat well to combine.
  • Sift together the flour and baking powder then add to the butter mixture.
  • Add mix-ins and stir until just combined.
  • Shape mixture into walnut sized** balls and place on a tray lined with baking paper (allow room for spreading - approx. 12 cookies per regular sized tray should work)
  • Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on size) until ~golden brown~
  • Consume with enthusiasm, preferably while still warm.
Tips:
  • All ingredients marked with an asterisk* can be substituted as follows:
  • Brown sugar = any kind of sugar (I like to use brown as it is dense and moist, and the cookies retain this moisture to a degree, but you really can use caster sugar, white sugar, raw sugar - whatever you have on hand)
  • Vanilla extract = any flavouring (Lemon or coconut essence work well, alternatively you can put in a tablespoon or two of grated citrus rind and juice, a couple of teaspoons of sweet spices like cinnamon.) 
  • Plain flour = self raising flour (the shape and consistency will be slightly different according to which raising agents you use, but for the purposes of biscuits like these, it really doesn't matter - try adding an extra egg for a softer cookie)
  • Quantities marked with a double asterisk** can be played with as much as you like. In this recipe, all of the quantities can be approximated and changed a little bit with no serious consequences - once you get to know the basic ingredients and expected consistency of cookie dough/mix then you can throw away the recipe altogether!
  • Quantity of mix-ins - if I'm following a recipe, I always add more mix-ins (usually chocolate) than the recipe suggests. I like a consistency that is more like "chocolate held together with dough" than "dough with a few barely-detectable choc chips"
  • Size of cookies - Totally up to you - a walnut (shell-on) sized ball will give you a regular-large sized cookie
  • Mix-in ideas***
  • Chocolate - dark, milk or white; choc chips, chunks or buttons - it's up to you
  • Nuts - salted nuts bring make sweet cookies even tastier!
  • Dried fruit - not just sultanas/raisins - to avoid the "damn I was expecting chocolate" response to fruity cookies, try adding dried apricot, pineapple or pawpaw~
  • Jam - to make jam-drop cookies, roll plain dough into a ball, press it flat with your thumb to create an indented centre, and top with a teaspoon of jam, then bake
  • Sprinkles - mix through or sprinkle on top for added colour
  • Muesli - take out about 1/4 of the flour and replace with a cup of muesli (oats, fruit, nuts etc)
  • I like to have a variety of flavours and textures in my biscuits - this batch had chewy apricot, smooth dark chocolate chunks and crunchy walnuts. Other ideas include:
    - Milk chocolate chips and chopped pretzels- Cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate- Strawberry jam-drops with shredded coconut mixed in
  • Make sure you don't burn the cookies by setting the timer early and checking on the cookies - most of the time, undercooked cookies are still delicious, whereas burnt - not so much.
  • The time this recipe will take depends on experience and preparation - but it can take as little as half an hour from nothing to fresh cookies if you're in a rush - if you have the time, allow an hour. 
  • Depending on the size of the cookies, the number will be different - When I made these, this recipe made about four trays of small-medium sized cookies - that's 40-50.
This recipe is designed to be quick, easy and versatile - you can be very relaxed about what you put in it! However, if you're after a particular type of cookie, like chewy cookies or cut out and bake biscuits, don't underestimate the value in following a recipe properly!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hello there, we're Maddie and Ellen; two friends blogging about the things we find beautiful, fascinating and inspiring. We love DIY projects, fashion, food, art and music. Our aim is to never stop creating and learning.

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