Batters, Biscuits And Scones

MAKING BATTERS Traditionally batters are associated with Shrove Tuesday and pancake tossing, or with Yorkshire pudding served as a starter or as an accompaniment to roast beef. This mixture of milk, eggs and flour can be made into a large number of other exciting dishes: fruit pancakes, fritters and crepes suzettes.

Proving the pan To avoid the problem of pancakes sticking to the pan a non-stick pan may be used, but better ‘prove’ a small heavy-based shallow frying or pancake pan as follows. Heat the pan with 2 tablespoons of oil until a faint haze appears. Remove from the heat, add a tablespoon of salt to the oil and rub with kitchen paper until the surface is sealed and shiny. Remove surplus salt and repeat if necessary. The pan is then ready for use.

Pour a little oil and butter in the pan, heat until a faint haze appears then pour off the excess into a small dish placed next to the hob. Return the pan to the heat to ensure it is very hot before the batter is poured in.

Basic Pancake Batter

100 g (4 oz) flour

Large pinch of salt

1 egg

275 ml (½ pt) milk

1 tablespoon melted butter

Sift flour and salt into bowl. Beat to smooth creamy batter with egg, half the milk and melted butter. Stir in remaining milk and use as required. There is no need to let the batter stand before using,

although it may be left, covered, in the refrigerator.

Pour in 2-3 tablespoons of basic pancake batter mixture, tilting the pan to cover it evenly. It should take about 1 minute to brown one side, before tossing or flicking over with a palette knife. If the pancake is becoming brown too rapidly, turn the heat down. Serve immediately, sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar.

Pancakes may be kept warm if layered with sheets of greaseproof paper and then placed on a plate over a pan of boiling water or wrapped in aluminium foil and kept warm in a preheated warm oven. Makes eight-ten small pancakes.

Basic Coating Batter

For coating fish, meat, vegetables.

100 g (4 oz) plain flour

¼ level teaspoon salt

1 egg

15 ml (1 tablespoon) melted butter

150 ml (¼ pt) milk

Sift flour and salt into bowl. Beat to smooth creamy batter with unbeaten egg, butter and milk. Use as required.

Sweet Fritter Batter

Use to coat fruit such as apple rings, banana slices, and pineapple chunks.

50 g (2 oz) plain flour

Pinch of salt

5 ml (1 level teaspoon) sifted icing sugar

60 ml (4 tablespoons)

lukewarm water

10 ml (2 teaspoons) melted butter

White of 1 egg

Sift flour and salt into bowl and add sugar. Gradually mix to a thick smooth batter with water and butter. Whisk egg white until stiff and fold into batter mixture.

Yorkshire Pudding

Make up the pancake batter as described. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7 and put 2-3 tablespoons hot dripping or oil into a baking tin or individual patty tins. Heat until a faint haze appears and pour in the batter. Bake just above the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes.

Toad-in-the-Hole

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas Mark 6. Place 450 g (1 lb) pork sausages in a greased baking tin and bake for 10 minutes turning once. Remove from the oven and pour over made-up pancake batter and bake as for Yorkshire pudding.

MAKING BISCUITS Biscuits can be made up with a number of variations from one basic mixture. They are at their best when freshly baked, but can be kept in an airtight tin for a week.

Biscuits made from syrup or honey should be left on the baking tray when taken out of the oven to harden before being placed on a wire cooling rack.

Basic Biscuit Recipe

225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour

Pinch salt

150 g (6 oz) butter

100 g (4 oz) caster or sifted icing sugar

1 beaten egg

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter finely until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the sugar. Mix to a very stiff dough with the beaten egg.

Turn out on to a lightly floured board and knead gently until smooth. Put into a polythene bag or wrap in aluminium foil and leave to chill for about 30 minutes.

Roll out thinly and cut into about 30 rounds with a 5 cm (2 in) plain or fluted biscuit cutter. Put the biscuits on to greased baking sheets and prick well with a fork.

Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4, for 20-30 minutes. Leave on trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire cooling racks. When cold, store in an airtight tin.

Biscuit variations To the basic biscuit recipe try adding one of the following: 40 g (1 ½ oz) chopped walnuts and 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) vanilla essence.

50 g (2 oz) chopped almonds and 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) almond essence.

1 level teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange rind.

50 g (2 oz) currants.

50 g (2 oz) chopped glace cherries.

7.5 ml (1 ½ level teaspoons) mixed spice or cinnamon.

50 g (2 oz) desiccated coconut and 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) vanilla essence.

50 g (2 oz) grated plain chocolate or small chocolate drops.

BISCUIT CRUST

An uncooked crust which makes an ideal base for cheesecake and other creamy dessert fillings.

150 g (6 oz) biscuits, for preference, digestive or ginger

75 g (3 oz) butter

Sugar (optional)

Crush biscuits with a rolling pin, or use a liquidizer. Melt the butter over a low heat and add the sugar, if used.

Stir until evenly combined and use to line a flan ring or pie dish, using the back of a spoon to smooth the mixture. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours before filling.

MAKING SCONES

Make scones for afternoon teas, spread with butter, jam and cream. It is important to get the consistency of the dough right. Insufficient liquid may result in heavy, badly risen scones; using too little, you find them spreading and shapeless. Avoid using too much baking powder because this results in an acid taste. The first rolling out will produce the best results, but the trimmings can be kneaded together and re-rolled to cut out as many scones as possible. Bake in a hot oven or on a griddle.

Basic Scones

225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour

2.5 ml (½ level teaspoon) salt 50 g (2 oz) butter

25 g (1 oz) caster sugar 150 ml (¼ pt) milk

For fruit scones, add 25-50 g (1-2 oz) sultanas and/or currants For cheese scones, add 5 ml (1 level teaspoon) dry mustard, pinch Cayenne pepper and 50 g (2 oz) grated Cheddar cheese and omit sugar.

Sift flour and salt into bowl.

Rub in butter finely, add sugar and/or any additional ingredients; add milk all at once. Mix to a soft, but not sticky, dough with a knife. Turn out on to a lightly floured board and knead quickly until smooth. Roll out to about 1 cm (½ in) thickness. Cut into 16-18 rounds: savoury scones are usually cut with a plain biscuit cutter and sweet scones with a fluted cutter. Transfer to buttered baking tray. Brush tops with milk, and add a sprinkling of grated cheese to cheese scones. Bake at top of oven at 230°C (450°F) Gas Mark 8 for 7-10 minutes or until golden and well risen. Cool on a wire rack and serve while fresh.

Dropped Scones

225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour

2.5 ml (½ level teaspoon) salt 15 ml (1 level tablespoon) caster sugar

1 egg

275 ml (½ pt) milk

25-50 g (1-2 oz) melted butter

Sift flour and salt into bowl. Add sugar and mix to a smooth creamy batter with the whole egg and half the milk, then stir in rest of milk. Brush large heavy frying pan or griddle with melted butter and heat. Drop small rounds of scone mixture in batches from a tablespoon into the pan. Cook until bubbles show on surface. Turn over carefully with a slice or palette knife and cook for further 2 minutes. Keep in a folded tea towel, to stay warm and moist.

Potato scones Boil 225 g (8 oz) floury potatoes and sieve while hot. Add sifted flour to make a stiff dough, a pinch of salt and a little butter. Roll out and cook on a griddle or in a greased pan.

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