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Baking bikkies.

I’m continuing on from the previous post about Chocolate HobNobs and Digestive biscuits, with a little bit of history and a few recipes. To start with, here’s how Digestives got their name.

In 1839, a pair of Scottish doctors added some sodium bicarbonate to the usual biscuit mixture of flour, sugar and butter. This was thought to have the same fundamental properties and health benefits you might find in an antacid and thus would aid digestion.They had invented the Digestive Biscuit. In 1892, Alexander Grant developed and patented the original, prototypical recipe for McVitie’s digestive biscuits.

For those of you who can’t buy HobNobs or Chocolate Wheaten Biscuits, I’ve dug out a few different recipes for you to try. Sadly I’m not planning to bake any of them myself. I’ve put on a few extra pounds in the last few weeks, so I’m trying to lose them again, and thus will restrict myself  to calorie-free virtual biscuits with my cuppa.
But if anyone does try any of these recipes, take a photo of your bikkies (or cookies) and email it to me, along with a link to the recipe you used and any comment you have about the final result. I’ll post them here, as I’m sure people would love to hear about them.

This recipe got a lot of likes online. It’s for digestive biscuits, and you can add  the chocolate topping at the end.

Fellow writer Erin Grace made the bikkies in the photo. Don’t they look delicious?  It’s a shame we can’t taste them. Here’s a link to the recipe she used.

For those of us who have gluten intolerant people or vegans in the family here’s a gluten-free vegan recipe for Chocolate HobNobs  that looks pretty yummy. 

And finally, here’s a Jamie Oliver recipe for homemade digestive biscuits.

Hot Cross Buns

Weirdly, the moment Christmas is over, the supermarkets here bring out hot cross buns to sell. Me, I love it — I could happily eat them all year around. 

But on social media it causes some people to practically foam at the mouth with indignation, because eating hot cross buns is an Easter tradition. When I was a kid, we ate them for breakfast on Good Friday (and through the rest of Easter if we were lucky). But as I said, these days I’d happily eat them all year round.

They’re not like other fruit buns. The cross on the top isn’t the source of the appeal — it’s usually  just made with flour and water. It’s the combination of fruit and spices in the bun. The spices are usually cinnamon and allspice, but they can also vary. After Easter I can still get fruit buns, but they aren’t nearly as yummy.

But in recent years the supermarkets have gone a bit crazy, varying the buns, so we can get “fruitless buns” (a travesty in my opinion), chocolate buns, brioche buns, caramel buns, and more, none of which I will touch.  

They don’t have to be served hot, but whether you eat them cold with butter, or heated, or toasted they are always called hot cross buns. In a US novel once, I saw them called “cross buns” because they weren’t being served hot — that’s wrong. Even if they come frozen from the fridge, we’d still call them hot cross buns. I generally don’t bake them myself, but my former neighbors once brought me in some they’d made and they were delicious, the best I’ve ever tasted.  The photo above is from the recipetineeats site, which also has a recipe and video.

Acetani — almond & orange cookies

I’ve just finished baking these and the house smells all toasty and gorgeous. They’re Italian cookies made from almond meal (ie flour) and orange zest, so are gluten-free, which is increasingly necessary these days, I find, with so many people having allergies.

I’m making them to take to a meeting at my former workplace. I love baking, but am watching my weight so I only bake when I can give the products away, and they won’t sit around at home, tempting me to nibble.

I do get to taste them before I take them away — it would be irresponsible not to — right? What if they tasted dreadful?

I’ve made acetani before and they were very tasty. Not crispy, but slightly chewy, in a good way. The orange zest gives a lovely hint of flavor, but doesn’t dominate. I’m going to try making them with lemon zest later. Also maybe some lemon curd with the leftover yolks.

They’re also very easy to make. The crackle effect is made by rolling balls of the mixture in icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) and the balls spread in the baking to become cookies and it makes the cracks.

I used this recipe (click on the link) which has very good instructions with photos. And what you see in the photo is about half the batch — the rest is still cooling down before I can slide them onto the wire rack. I think the recipe made around 25—30.