Avid Baker’s Challenge: English Digestives

The May challenge at Avid Baker’s Challenge is the King Arthur Flour English Digestive biscuits.

These were super quick to knock together. The hardest part was waiting for the butter to come to room temperature. I also used this occasion to bust out my Queen Elizabeth silhouette cookie cutter that I bought from Fancy Flours. I was less successful with the thickness of the cookies. Some were closer to 1/4 inch than 1/8 inch. If I make these again I would stick to the thicker, 1/4 inch cookie. I didn’t quite get the baking time down pat either. Some were much crispier than others. I preferred the less crispy, thicker version. Overall they were good. A nice crumbly texture. I definitely think a cuppa would have improved them. I ate mine after it cooled without any liquid.

digestives

The recipe can be found here along with a picture of what traditional digestives should look like.

According to the King Arthur Flour website, “these biscuits were developed during the latter part of the 19th century to increase fiber in Victorian diets. Digestive Biscuits are really just sophisticated graham crackers and are very simple to make. They are delicious with tea and fruit.”

1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup (3 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) cold milk

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Measure the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. With a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture. Toss in the sugar and enough milk to make a stiff dough.

Knead this mixture on a floured surface until smooth. (All this can be done almost instantly in a food processor.) Roll the dough out to a bit more than 1/8 inch thick and cut into any desired shape. Traditionally, digestive biscuits are round and about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on greased cookie sheets, prick evenly with a fork, and bake until pale gold, between 15 and 20 minutes.

Let me know if you try these out!

Posted in Avid Baker's Challenge, Baking, English digestives, Fancy Flours, King Arthur Flour | 10 Comments

7 Quick Takes: computer problems, pineapple upside down cake, and a triple take!

— 1 —

So I crashed my laptop, probably literally. Sometimes I let it balance on the arm of the loveseat and occasionally it falls to the floor. Funny thing about it deciding to stop working. It went to Best Buy for a couple of days where it was diagnosed with a dying hard drive. Then The Patriarch bought an external hard drive, downloaded some Linux program, and retrieved all my data, then replaced the hard drive and then we had to order Windows 7 and finally it’s back up and running. Except I have no Office software so, I need to attend to that. In the interim I decided to see what Candy Crush Saga was about, because I’m all up to date like that. I’m stuck at level 109.

— 2 —

We live in the part of the country where it’s bad allergy season pretty much every day. Add a child with lots of environmental allergies (fortunately not to dog hair or dust mites or we’d have to change our entire living arrangements) and it can be problematic. He’s pretty miserable but we’re trying to stay on top of everything with his allergy shots and nasal steroids.

He’s doing otherwise well learning to throw discus and shot put as a high school freshman. He’s also learning the trombone and will be in Marching Band next year. The only thing any of the rest of us can play is the radio.

— 3 —

Toffee cookies

The Spare and I made excellent cookies last weekend. We found this recipe on Hershey’s site. They were fabulous:

Ingredients:
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup HEATH BITS ‘O BRICKLE Toffee Bits
1 cup HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F.
Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs; blend well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in toffee bits and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies

Of course, we never have exactly all the ingredients so we substituted dark brown sugar and we used Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits, so there’s that. And I used my handy little cookie scoop so I had these beautiful, same-size cookies. They were delicious.

I’d show you a picture but for some reason, probably related to quick take #1, I can’t upload any pictures. But you can hop over to Hershey’s website and see their lovely, professionally photographed cookies.

— 4 —

I found this really great website with some excellent tutorials on 11 DIY bracelets. I think these would be fun for moms and kids to do or to make while watching TV for gifts.

bracelets

— 5 —

Since I got my KitchenAid I’ve really started baking a lot. Last night I made a fabulous pineapple upside down cake. I found it here It’s absolutely delicious. I love the arrangement of pineapples.

pineapple

— 6 —

We also got some eye-popping news on Easter. A family member is having triplets. This is her first pregnancy and she’ll be an antique mommy, so please pray for mummy and daddy and the three wee ones. I’m probably going to devote an entire post to this topic but I’m trying to find some clarity about how I feel. They are not Catholic so it’s raising some difficult emotions in us: happiness for the new lives, fear of complications, as well as a large dose of ambivalence. Our youngest is a high school freshman, the expectant couple are close to us physically, but I’m at the age where I’m not sure I want to be intimately involved with little babies on a more than casual basis. However, the Patriarch and the expectant daddy are very close. Lets say I’m very much a work in progress.

— 7 —

So, for all you non-Catholics, I’d like to recommend Jennifer Fulwiler’s “Something Other Than God”. It’s her awesome conversion story. You can find it here. I challenge you to read it!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Posted in 7 Quick Takes, Assisted Reproduction, Baking, Faith, Infertility, IVF, sewing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

7 Quick Takes: Peanut Butter Cookies, Dreamy Music, and LOL My Thesis

— 1 —

Quilled Map of World

Isn’t this the most beautiful thing? Read how Amber Rousse made this. I’ve never tried quilling, it seems easy but time consuming. I love the green and brown contrast. I must resist another hobby.

— 2 —

So, I got a Kitchenaid mixer for Christmas. Yeah! Bright red. I made peanut butter cookies Thursday night. I can’t get over how much less labor intensive it is over the hand whisk or a hand-held mixer. I love my husband! I tried to make bread…everyone loved it but me, not so much. I didn’t like the consistency of the bread when I used the bread hook. I think I prefer kneading by hand. So, my goal this weekend is to make cinnamon bread.

Here’s the Food Network recipe for peanut butter cookies:

1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup additional to roll cookies
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg to mixture. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Stir in salt, baking soda, and flour until well combined. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in sugar. Place on baking sheet and flatten with fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

So I didn’t roll them in sugar, and I didn’t flatten them with a fork, and I used my cookie scoop to make them the same size. Oh, and I used parchment paper instead of greasing the baking sheet..but other than that I followed the recipe exactly!

— 3 —

So here are the two best cookie making tools in the world:

The Wilton Jumbo Cookie Spatula here

and a cookie dough scoop,small here

— 4 —

I love Neil Young, especially his “Unplugged” album. He uses a pump organ that I think is just beautiful. Anyway, his Carnegie Hall performance has been crowd sourced and uploaded to YouTube and can be found here:

— 5 —

I don’t sleep well. So I found this list of the top ten most relaxing tunes here:

1. Marconi Union—Weightless
2. Airstream—Electra
3. DJ Shah—Mellmaniac (Chill out Mix)
4. Enya—Watermark
5. Coldplay—Strawberry Swing
6. Barcelona—Please Don’t Go
7. All Saints—Pure Shores
8. Adele—Someone Like You
9. Mozart—Canzonetta Sull”aria
10. Café Del Mar—We Can Fly

Here’s what Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy says about Weightless:

“While listening, your heart rate gradually comes to match that beat. It is important that the song is eight minutes long because it takes about five minutes for this process, known as entrainment, to occur. The fall in heart rate also leads to a fall in blood pressure.
The harmonic intervals – or gaps between notes – have been chosen to create a feeling of euphoria and comfort. And there is no repeating melody, which allows your brain to completely switch off because you are no longer trying to predict what is coming next.
Instead, there are random chimes, which helps to induce a deeper sense of relaxation. The final element is the low, whooshing sounds and hums that are like buddhist chants. High tones stimulate but these low tones put you in a trance-like state.”

I think I may make this playlist and try it this week. I’ll let you know how it works.

— 6 —

gem club

Thursday morning on NPR’s Morning Edition they sampled Gem Club’s new album In Roses. Haunting and beautiful, a combination of cello, voice, and piano I can’t quit listening to the tracks available. I think I’ll have to get this on the 28th when it drops. This seems like something that would make work go by easy. And sometimes, it’s nice when work goes by easy.

— 7 —

And finally, I’ve been hooked on LOL My Thesis. I’ve submitted mine, but it hasn’t come up yet (they get 500 submissions a day). If it shows up, trust me you’ll hear about it. Graduate students take their thesis, which represents months to years of work and reduce it to a single, snarky sentence.

For example, the scholarly thesis entitled: “Creating a Romantic Landscape Costume Design and the Modern Romanticization of Pride & Prejudice” by a Theatre major at the University of Florida is reduced to “I Read/Watched a Lot of Pride & Prejudice and Wrote Extensively About Colin Firth’s Tight-Fitting Pants”.

In that vein, here is the Film School Thesis Statement Generator. Enter the name of your film and, surprisingly, it generates your thesis statement.

So Finding Nemo generates: “Through the use of impliled depth-of-field, Finding Nemo reminds the spectator of the plight of the migrant worker in post-war America”.

Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought.

Thanks, again to Jen for hosting and hop over to Conversion Diary to see what better bloggers than I have to say!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Posted in 7 Quick Takes, Baking, Gem Club | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment