The Biscuits, the Beans and the Barmy Stile…

We were due to go on a 10-12 mile walk.  Dogs, me, husband and friends.  Despite having run a marathon a few years ago (slowly…) I knew I would need sustenance on the way to keep  me going as I am a tad unfit to say the least.  So – biscuits, I thought.  The only biscuits I feel I can make without too much thought are the ones in  my old  School Cookery Book. The one that normally makes me feel a tad nauseous as I open the pages and therefore open the past.  Skipping through the annotations on the pages (and bear in mind I didn’t annotate comments about the baking, more about the teachers…), I came to the biscuit recipes.

Deep breath and open the book...

Deep breath and open the book…

Instructions are provided:

Plain Biscuits (Basic Recipe) (makes approx 15)

100g plain flour, 50g margarine, 50g caster sugar, 1/2 egg (or 1 yolk).

General Method (for the creaming method):

Grease a baking tray (I was a bit short of butter and hadn’t kept old butter wrapping so I decided to use baking paper to line the tray).

Sieve the flour onto a plate. Beat the egg into the basin.  Cream the margarine (I used butter) and sugar until pale in colour and fluffy in texture. Beat in the egg.  Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the sieved flour to give a smooth firm dough.  Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead lightly.  Roll, cut and bake.

When it comes to rolling, you go to ANOTHER recipe elsewhere which you follow and carry on.  (Why we have to keep flipping pages back and forth is beyond  me… Although it probably saves paper but I have a feeling in the 70s/80s that that wasn’t the reason.) THAT recipe says: roll dough to 3-5mm in thickness.  Prick neatly.  Cut out using a 4cm plain round cutter (I used a small cutter which I  had to hand. Life is too short to measure cutters!) Place on the baking tray. Re-roll and cut out any scraps of dough (I didn’t. I am ashamed to say I ate the scraps!).

Bake a third to half way down the oven. Regulo 3-4 or 160 deg C. (I think the placing in ovens is less significant now as I think that dates from the days when ovens tended to heat food less consistently. But I may be wrong!).  I put the biscuits in at 140 deg as I have a fan assisted.  They are supposed to bake for 10-20 mins. Mine took about 25.  They are supposed to be pale straw coloured and firm to touch.  Then, using a palette knife, lift off baking tray very carefully and cool on a wire tray.  Sprinkle lightly with caster sugar if liked.

(Taken from: Learning to Cook Metric Edition by Mary Foster. 2nd Edition.  Heinemann Educatiuonal Books. 1978 reprint).  The cost at the time was £1.20!

Having been inspired in so many ways by my Denman weekend, I also decided to be organised and to get all my ingredients ready before I started…

All laid out ready for action!
Small and Scrummy

Small and Scrummy

So, now to the Beans and the Barmy Stile bit.

Before going on the walk, I watered my broad beans which had been awaiting, enthusiastically, their transplantation from conservatory (which operates as a greenhouse) into one of my 3 small front garden veggie patches.

We are ready for the off!

We are ready for the off!

I transplanted them.  Hoped they’d last at least the day outside!

Thereafter – the walk.  We were going from our house just outside Wendover, up to Dunsmore and then to Great Hampden for a pub lunch and then back again.

A few of the snaps I took along the way:

This tree's branches remind  me a bit of my hair!

This tree’s branches remind me a bit of my hair!

A stile with no purpose!

A stile with no purpose!

I am a bit obsessed with pictures of stiles. Not sure why – perhaps for a different blog on a different day!  I particularly liked this one:

Rustic and much loved stile by me

Rustic and much loved stile by me

No words could do this view justice

No words could do this view justice

Finally, home.  And a check on the beans – which were very happy in situ.

Broad Beans happily in their new bed

Broad Beans happily in their new bed

And yes we did eat some of the biscuits!  Not bad.


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