To celebrate Valentine’s Day I thought I’d make some heart-shaped Linzer biscuits from the Hummingbird Bakery’s Home Sweet Home recipe book. Here they are, all 61 of them (the recipe says it makes 25).
The glut of biscuits had nothing to do with the Hummingbird’s recipe and all to do with lack of preparation (more of which later).
Making the dough for the biscuits was pretty easy. I creamed sugar and a lot of butter together and thanked God that the KitchenAid was in working order this week. Then I added flour, cinnamon, and ground almonds. The recipe suggests that, once the dough comes together, you halve it, wrap each half in cling film, and put it in the fridge to rest for half an hour.
Unfortunately, I had more prosaic things to do this week than indulge in several catch up episodes of Home and Away (see my post on Eccles cakes for details of my Aussie soap addiction). Things like descaling the toilet and unblocking the drains. No wonder life at the Summer Bay Caravan Park seems so attractive.
Toilet descaled and drain unblocked (and hands thoroughly washed), I took the rested dough from the fridge. The next step of the recipe is to roll out the two halves of dough to a thickness of 4mm between two pieces of baking paper and, once again, chill them. Now, I’m not sure how big the pastry boards or the fridges are in the Hummingbird Bakery’s tester kitchen, but it was really difficult to get the thickness (or, more accurately, thinness) required and keep the dough on the board (my boards are 45.5cm x 29cm). I ended up with overhanging edges that fell off when I moved the dough into the fridge.
Since making the biscuits, I’ve given this problem a little bit of thought, and if I made them again, my solution would be to forget about dividing the dough and, after the first resting period, roll it out between the baking paper but onto a work surface and then put something cold on the top (like the ice packs for the inside a cool bag). Alternatively, I suppose I could live dangerously and forget the second resting period altogether, but who knows what impact that would have on taste and texture etc.
So, I had my two lots of dough all rolled out and chilled. This was when my lack of preparation hit. I discovered that the tin of assorted cutters that I bought for the doughnut cupcakes only contained very small ones. The recipe requires two heart-shaped cutters, one 8cm at its widest point and, the other, 5cm wide. The largest heart-shaped cutter I had was just about big enough for the hole in the top of the biscuit. I made one biscuit bottom and one top by cutting around the shape of the cutter about 2cm from the edge. I quickly decided that that method just wasn’t going to work. It required a level of precision and delicacy that was simply beyond me.
I decided to make more, smaller, biscuits using my teeny-weeny cutters. By the time I got to the sixtieth pair of hearts I was just about frazzled, and I’d bent my cutter out of shape so my bottoms had started to go wonky. I gathered my unused dough into a ball and put it into the fridge, right at the back. My little boy could use it to make a dinosaur or something.
Given their size, the biscuits took less time to bake than the recipe says. They were cooked in around 8-10 minutes. They cooled, I put them in a tin overnight and sandwiched the tops and bottoms together with warmed seedless strawberry jam the next day.
They did look very cute. So much so that I put them on a cake stand to show them off and they went a bit soft. Luckily, my children liked them, and my mum and dad were staying for a few days so they didn’t have time to get much softer.
I have a couple of tips for next time:
- I’ll make sure I have the right equipment before I start to bake. That way I’ll either be able to go and get the right stuff, or adapt the recipe.
- No matter how cute the biscuits may be, they’ll go straight into a tin to prevent sogginess.
I think I will make these biscuits again, but only once I have a bigger and less bendy heart. Happy Valentine’s Day.