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Viennese Fingers (Blogtober 6)

Soapmakers Eat Too…

Every year, in mid-August, our village holds a Horticultural & Craft Show. Gardeners, photographers, crafters and cooks compete to show off their skills and be the best in their category.  Our garden is still a work in progress, I’m no photographer and I’ve had no time recently for any craft bar soapmaking, but baking… now baking I can do.  I entered six classes, and won four firsts and two seconds (go me!) One of the firsts was for my Viennese Fingers*

Viennese Fingers
Viennese Fingers

Ok, so these may look a little wonky, but they’re prize winners!  They really are the lightest, crumbliest and shortest of biscuits which are ridiculously easy and surprisingly quick to make. I’ve been making at least one batch (usually two!) of these each week recently and they’re loved by the whole family. Give ’em a go and impress your nearest and dearest.

Before you start, preheat your oven to 180C – if you have a super-efficient oven then you might want to reduce it to 170/175C, but either way keep an eye on the biscuits as they’re cooking.

This recipe will make approx. 20 fingers.

Ingredients:

  • 175g soft margarine (you could use butter, but I’ve found marge is better in these)
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 125g plain flour
  • 60g cornflour
  • 100-150g plain dark chocolate

You’ll also need a piping bag and nozzle. This is the one I use.

Piping nozzle
Piping nozzle

It needs to be be fairly big as the mixture is quite dense – this one is 3cm diameter at its wide end…

To make up the biscuit mix, thoroughly beat together the margarine and the icing sugar with an electric mixer:

Ingredients, thoroughly combined
Margarine & Icing Sugar

Add the two flours and mix well again:

All ingredients combined
All ingredients combined

Now you’re ready to pipe – it really IS that easy 🙂

Place the nozzle into the piping bag (I often use disposable piping bags blah blah…and fill the bag with the biscuit mixture.  I find it helps to place the bag into a large glass and fold the ends over the top of the glass to hold it in place…

Piping Bag in a Glass
Filling the Piping Bag in a Glass
Filled Piping Bag
Filled Piping Bag

Grab a couple of baking sheets, cover them with greaseproof / baking paper – do NOT grease neither the trays nor the baking paper. Pipe 10 ‘fingers’ of mix onto each lined tray (leaving 1-2cm between them as they will spread a little).  As you can see from this picture my piping isn’t particularly uniform, but who cares?!

Piped fingers, ready to be baked
Piped fingers, ready to be baked

Put them in the oven and time them for 14-15 minutes.  See these little round ones at the front? That’s what I do with any mixture left in the bag that I don’t think will make a full finger-worth of biscuit – perfect sized morsels to pop in your mouth when nobody’s looking 😉

Fingers in the Oven
Fingers in the Oven

You want them just cooked, barely beginning to brown… The ones on the top here are too brown – you want them more like the ones on the bottom..

Baked Viennese Fingers
Baked Viennese Fingers

WHILE they’re in the oven, break up melt the dark chocolate. I stand a narrow mug in boiling water in a saucepan, and melt the chocolate in that.

Melting Chocolate
Melting Chocolate

Once cooked, take the fingers out of the oven, leave to cool for a few moments, then transfer them onto a wire rack to cool.   DO NOT throw away the greaseproof/baking paper – we’re going to use it again in just a moment.

When the fingers are cool to the touch, take them one by one and dip one end, and then the other, in the melted chocolate.  Place it back down on the greaseproof/baking paper on the baking tray.  Try to make sure that the chocolate from one finger doesn’t touch the chocolate from another or they’ll stick together when solidified and can be difficult to part without breaking the fingers themselves.

If (like me) you find this process a little tedious, simply place the fingers onto the greaseproof/baking paper and drizzle the melted chocolate all over them:

Dipped or Drizzled? You choose...
Dipped or Drizzled? You choose…

Place them, still on their lined trays, into the refrigerator for half an hour then hey presto, you have the most delicious accompaniment to your afternoon cup of tea. Or coffee, if you absolutely must 😉

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vickx

*Ahem* I’m going to completely gloss over the fact that I was actually the only person to enter the Viennese Fingers category in this year’s show.  I am reliably informed that had they not been up to scratch, I would absolutely, definitely, without a doubt, NOT have been awarded a first for them. And anyway, they WERE bloody good!!!

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Swiss Roll

Today has mostly been spent keeping the children occupied, made easier by the fact we had a 3rd birthday party to attend this afternoon – 28 small children and a bouncy castle kept the adults on their toes!  Once the kids were in bed, wrapping and labelling soap took up most of my evening and once again I’m on the threshold of being late with my latest Blogtober post.  Deadline is T minus 80 minutes – eek!

Today I thought I’d share something a bit different.  I’ve been baking for much, MUCH longer than I’ve been soaping; I was baking with my mother as a small girl, and I’ve continued to do throughout my adult life. There are undoubtedly similarities between soapmaking  and baking, so I thought today I would share one of my recipes and see if I can’t inspire a soapmaker out there to try it.

Sadly, the time to bake just doesn’t seem to materialise these days, and the closest I get to baking is catching up with The Great British Bake Off while wrapping soap. Last week the contestants were asked to make a roulade, which, let’s be honest, is nothing more than a big, fancy Swiss Roll.   Homemade Swiss Roll is MILES better than the mass produced ones that you can buy at the supermarket, is really quick to make and has the added bonus of being a fat-free sponge. What’s not to like?

Swiss Roll
                Swiss Roll

Pre-heat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6

Take 3 large eggs.  Weigh these three eggs (unbroken, in their shells) before you do anything else. Once you know the weight of the three eggs, you then need the same weight of caster sugar and plain flour.

Whisk together the eggs and the caster sugar with an electric hand whisk. You’ll need to keep whisking for a good 10 minutes.  The mixture will thicken up and eventually will leave a trail when the whisk taken out of the mixture.  It’s very similar to when soap batter reaches ‘trace’.  Sift in half the flour, and fold in gently. You don’t want to lose any of the air that has been whisked into the mixture. Once the flour is completely folded in, do the same with the remaining flour.  When the ingredients are all combined, pour into a greased, lined 12″ x 9″ baking tray.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the sponge is just cooked. If you go over, it’ll be difficult to roll.

Place a clean (!) tea towel over a cooling rack and dredge it with caster sugar.  Turn the sponge out onto the tea towel, and immediately, while still piping hot, roll it up in the sugar coated cloth.  Allow the sponge to cool down a little, for about 10 minutes, then very gently unroll and remove the cloth. The sponge will hold much of the ‘roll’, without cracking. Spread the ‘inside’ of the roll with jam, chocolate ganache, lemon curd or whatever takes your fancy, and roll it back up again. Ta-da!  You could now carefully slice off both ends (just like a loaf of soap!) and make it look really pretty, but the most important thing is to enjoy!

This is the last one I made, filled with lemon curd. I’m now inspired to make another very soon and I’ll try to add some ‘making of’ pics to this post.

Swiss Roll
                          Swiss Roll

Right, I’m off to press that publish button. Deadline T -29mins 😀