It’s baking season and I’ve lost my baking mojo.
I’ve had a number of flops in recent weeks, which is why it’s been quiet around here – I’d rather not post than post a recipe that I didn’t feel was quite right. I’ve tried sifting my flour, and I’ve thrown out anything on the baking shelf that was out of date. The next thing to try is using an oven thermometer, to see if the temperature knob is lying to me.
In the meantime, shortbread. As one of the first things I ever learned to bake, it’s my reset button at times like this. Its familiar measurements and hands-on nature bring me back to a place where I can’t mess up. With added autumnal spices, I’m well and truly in my happy place.
It’s also my first bake inspired the Great British Bake Off. Quite often, I tend to overlook biscuits when planning what to bake – this isn’t totally unrelated to the fact that I have a bad habit of eating biscuit dough before it makes it into the oven.
But it’s about time I got back to it, having avoided pies, cakes, and bread because of the aforementioned loss of mojo. With these little mouthfuls of autumn I am, as my mother would say, back on the horse.
Makes 35 biscuits
225g plain flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
15g light brown sugar
60g caster sugar
20g icing sugar
1/2tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp water
1) Preheat oven to 180C and line 3 baking trays with baking parchment (or just use one and do it in batches).
2) Mix together the flour, polenta, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl until the spices and polenta are evenly distributed. Add the sugars and butter and rub together until a loose dough comes together. Press it all into a ball.
3) Flour a clean surface and roll the dough out to about 5mm thick. Use a cutter about 2 inches in diameter to cut out your biscuits. Bake for about 13 minutes, until the top has just lost its sheen, and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
4) While the biscuits cool, prepare the topping (almost a glaze!) by mixing together the icing sugar, spices, water, and milk. Use a pastry brush to glaze the tops of the biscuits – once the first layer is dry, there should be enough for a second layer. For a more subtle taste, stick to one layer.