When I bake I like to be left alone in the kitchen, all by myself. However, every once in a while, I allow a little elf into my baking space. In normal parlance, you'd refer to him as my nephew but to me he is an elf. Simply because, any time spent with him has been enchanting, to say the least. As he discovers the world and its quirks, his astute observations tinged with his inimitable sense of humour has made me re-discover my imagination, creativity and a certain sense of wonder which all too often gets lost in the mundane-ness of everyday life.
For some strange reason, despite a 25-year age gap between the two of us, he doesn't just think we are in the same age group, he believes it!! While it is always flattering for a woman to be considered younger than her age, it also means that when we spend time together, it is a battle of wits with each one trying to assert their superiority over the other. The only time he concedes I might know more is when it comes to baking!!
Last month when we spent time together, we decided to make these biscuits. It was my way of keeping him out of trouble while his mother left him with me. The biscuits are extremely simple to make and adapted from a Rachel Allen recipe. Her entire 'Bake' series on television was almost like a baking class for a novice like me at that time.
The ingredients required are your every-day pantry items and the recipe is so easy to follow that it is almost felt like a craft project. The biscuits have a buttery, short-bread like consistency with the orange zest uplifting them from the ordinary. I did drizzle on some dark chocolate on them which made them more appealing, visually as well as in taste.
There is nothing extraordinary in this recipe or in the baking process but what was a delight was the excitement in the li'l elf's eyes as every two minutes he would try to look inside the oven, almost willing the biscuits to come out faster!! And then when there were ready.. a certain pride as he served it to his parents and while he secretly revelled in their praise, publicly he acted very nonchalant about the whole thing!!! Erm...Modesty personified aren't we?!?!
The four uniquely-shaped biscuits, in the photograph above, have been specially created by the little elf. In a way, I think they represent him. In a world where people slot themselves into many a cookie-cutter stereotypes, he revels in being different without a care of what the world thinks while keeping his sense of humour and imagination intact.
Somewhere isn't that the magic of childhood where you question, challenge, wonder, imagine and discover life!! So, my suggestion is... go grab your little elf and create your own special magical memory!!
Cook time: 10-12 mins
makes about 25 biscuits, but depends on the size of your cookie cutters or on the size you decide on.
- 175 gms plain flour
- 110 gms unsalted soft butter
- 50 gms sugar
- 1 orange, finely grated zest only
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- Add the orange zest to the butter mixture and mix together.
- Sift in the flour and bring the mixture together to form a firm dough.
- Wrap the mixture in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.
- After 30 minutes, take the dough out and roll it out to 1/2 cm thickness and cut out shapes with the help of cookie cutters.
- If you don't have cookie cutters, pull out walnut-sized balls of the dough. Then flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand or with the back of a damp fork which will leave its imprint on the biscuits. Unlike other biscuit recipes, these will not spread while baking.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-12 mins or until lightly brown. Do not bake them until golden brown because keep in mind that they will harden a bit as they cool.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Suggestion: Melt some chocolate and then drizzle it in a random fashion over the biscuits. Else, you can even dip half the biscuit in the melted chocolate and leave it to set on the rack.