We did some baking yesterday, Little B and I. I found myself (not for the first time) completely inspired by a little square photo I recently came across on Instagram. I'm kicking myself now as I didn't make a note of who the photo belonged to, and it was one of those beautifully styled, magazine-worthy photos that I am a sucker for. However, the lovely lady who took the beautiful photo did happen to mention where she found the recipe, and lo and behold it was an issue of Country Living UK magazine from two years ago. Ah-ha, I thought, I have a pile of magazines that is surely more than two years old, so off I went to dig it out. It was from November 2015 if you have a similar two-year old pile of magazines, an Autumn classic.
The recipe was simple (sugar, butter, golden syrup, flour, bicarb and ginger), so I pootled into the interweb to search for some suitable leaf shaped cutters. Plenty to be found on Amazon, so I went for a full set of 7 shapes as I have a feeling that leaf biscuits will definitely be a Favourite Thing in our household. One thing to mention about the general purchasing of biscuit cutters is to check the dimensions carefully. The cutters in the tin I bought were smaller than I anticipated, and although I was initially a bit disappointed when they arrived, they actually made the cutest little perfectly sized biscuits.
Baking with children is loads of fun and really adds a certain element of glee to the whole proceedings. Little B is a full-force child and goes at everything with enthusiasm and energy, so it was easy to get caught up with his genuine delight in weighing out ingredients and mixing them all together.
The mixture starts out quite dry and crumbly (there is a LOT of flour, great clouds of it in fact), and for a while it feels like it isn't going to work out.
We found it best to roll up sleeves (or in Little B's case, to remove clothes altogether) and get stuck in with your hands. You need to persuade the crumbs to turn into a workable cookie dough, and the warmth from hands does this brilliantly.
The quantity of ingredients (which I'll give you at the end of this post) makes a lot of dough. We ended up halving it and shaping into two balls before putting it into the fridge to chill. Yes, you do need to allow time for the dough to go cold before you can get going with the rolling pin, so if you are baking with Little People you may want to prepare them in advance for the pause in activity.
We made the dough in the late morning, and made the biscuits in the mid afternoon. We took everything out of the kitchen and onto the dining table so that we had plenty of room to work, spreading out a length of greaseproof paper so that we could easily roll out the dough.
Using cookie cutters is such fun! So pleasing to create those little shapes, then adding the details with a metal skewer. Little B absolutely loved doing it and I had to resist the urge to fight him off and do it all myself.
We used half of the dough and made around 36 leaves in total which spread across two baking trays. The other half of the dough is still in the fridge and I think we shall make gingerbread men with it today.
I couldn't wait to see how the leaves would turn out, and luckily the baking time is very short. The recipe suggested 8-10 minutes, and I settled on 8.5 minutes with my hot oven. The secret is to take them out when they have just turned a very light golden colour (they will be darker on the underside) and still quite soft as they harden when they cool. I much prefer soft, slightly chewy gingerbread as opposed to the rock hard, brittle version.
I was so delighted that the markings we made looked even better once the biscuits were baked - oh, so very leafy and pleasing to look at! Now I did ponder on trying to style my photo in the manner of the swoony images we see all the time on Instagram. I would need a co-ordinating cloth (made of linen probably), some real autumn leaves and maybe a little jar of autumn foliage and berries. Possibly an earthenware mug of tea. Maybe a candle.
In the end, I found I just could. Not. Be. Bothered. I desperately wanted to eat the biscuits and I had eager children to ward off too. So I'm afraid the above photo is the best I could do. Incidentally, isn't the original magazine page photo rather lovely?
So I can tell you that these biscuits are visually very, very pleasing to look at. They are seasonal and cute and photogenic.
Taste wise??? Well, the Little People think they are amaaaaaaaaaazing. They seriously went mad for these little treats and I had to step in and limit their scoffing. My verdict - lovely gingeryness without being too overpowering, nice soft texture but possibly a teensy bit on the dry side. However............
.........when dunked into a fresh mug of hot milky coffee, oh-my-goodness, these little leafy morsels are transformed. Coffee-soaked ginger biscuits are absolutely the bees knees.
I allowed Little Lady to give it a try (she likes the taste of coffee) and she agreed with me that the coffee soaking really turned these biscuits into a very, very yummy treat.
If you fancy giving these biscuits a go, you can click on the above photo and it should pop up in a new window so that you can read it a little better. If I was making the biscuits again, I would simply halve the quantities.
Country Living Magazine remains one of my all time favourites, and I so look forward to it's seasonal inspiration every month. It's a real delight, and a treat that I've been enjoying for almost twenty years now. Delicious.