Sitting here with grey skies outside, I’m left wondering whether we’ll be seeing hail or snow next, after we’ve just experienced the might of Storm Ciara over the weekend.
As a rule, the weather doesn’t bother me a huge amount. You don’t move this far north if a bit of rain is going to bring out your inner sugar mouse. The weekend’s storm was something else, though. I’ve seen some quite extreme displays from the elements since we moved, but I was glad I had taken the precaution to lock up the chickens in their run on Saturday night. The beck earned its very own flood warning from the Environment Agency, and I was very glad there was no chance of the girls getting blown into it and washing up somewhere like Bolton Abbey.
With rugby cancelled for one weekend, and reports of trees down and floods across roads throughout the area, the monster and I chose to stay home for the day. He took a walk out at one point to see how high the beck had got, since it steadfastly refused to flood the bottom of the garden. He came back with videos of fast-flowing water further down the hill and standing water cutting off a road out of the village, full of enthusiasm for the idea the village might be cut off by the floodwaters long enough for a day off school on Monday. Then he settled happily in the warm, doubtless doing an inner rain dance to help things along.
In the meantime, I made biscuits. A delicate, buttery shortbread with a hint of citrus to go with a steaming mug of Earl Grey tea. It’s one of the simplest gluten-free recipes I know. It doesn’t need any xanthan gum. It doesn’t use egg as a binder. There’s no fancy flour blend to find. You don’t even need to roll the dough out: just bake and enjoy. A quick comfort hit for a grey day.
I’ve shared the recipe a couple of times recently with friends, who’ve also pointed out that I’ve not posted much recently – more of that in a separate post at some point – so here it is for all to find.
Yield: 45 approx
Lemon Shortbread Biscuits: Low FODMAP and Gluten-Free
A delicious tea-time staple that melts in your mouth. You'd never know they were gluten-free!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
200g soft salted butter
85g caster sugar (ideally golden caster)
200g rice flour
45g corn flour
40g ground rice
Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
Cream the butter and sugar together. If I know I'm making these the next day, I take the butter from the fridge the night before to speed up the mixing, but you can use the butter straight from the fridge and leave it in the mixer for longer if this is an impulse bake 🙂
Put the lemon zest into the butter and sugar mix and beat for a couple of minutes to allow the zest to release oils evenly through the mixture.
Add the rice flour, corn flour and ground rice to the bowl and beat thoroughly until you reach an even, slightly sticky dough, stopping once to scrape down the sides.
Make the dough into a ball and place in the centre of a piece of either cling film or baking parchment.
Shape the dough into a sausage around 2in/5cm in diameter, and roll the cling film or parchment around it evenly.
Lightly roll your dough sausage parcel back and forth until the sides are even and any lumps or inconsistencies largely dealt with. When you're happy with it, put the parcel in the fridge and chill for 45-60 minutes.
When your parcel is nice and firm, remove it from the fridge and pre-heat the oven to 160C fan/180 traditional/Gas mark 3
Line a couple of oven trays with baking parchment, unwrap your dough sausage and, using a sharp knife, slice it into even discs 7mm or 1/4in thick. Spread them over the trays, leaving space for the biscuits to spread. This doesn't have to be done with military precision: you can also make them a little thicker, but allow more room for them to spread if you do.
Put the trays in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check them after this time. They should be a light golden colour, but all ovens are different: you know your oven best. If it's usually a little fierce, check them after 17 minutes; if it's a little low, check at 20 minutes and be prepared to add a couple of minutes at the end to achieve the desired result.
When baked, take the trays from the oven and put the trays on your cooling racks for 5 minutes. Do not attempt to move the biscuits from the rack yet, as they will break. You need to let them cool in situ so they will hold together.
When the biscuits have cooled slightly, gently transfer them to the cooling racks and leave them to finish cooling.
Enjoy - and prepare to be asked to make them quite often!
How much of a lemon flavour you want is down to personal taste, and this recipe will vary depending on the size and freshness of your lemons.
If you want the flavour more intense, you can either melt the butter ahead of time and mix in the lemon zest so it can infuse well before you start mixing. You can also make sure it's zested as finely as possible - I have a small, microplane zester that does this really well, gathering the zest in a small container. Or you can use 3 lemons instead of 2 if you prefer.
The final option would be to use a lemon extract from the baking section of the supermarket. This would certainly give you a consistent result, but I find the flavour less satisfying myself. Your mileage may vary 🙂
My fibromyalgia has been getting in the way a lot these last few weeks. It plays hell with lots of things, and for the last couple of weeks it’s meant parenting in survival mode while S is away on a business trip. I get up long enough to get H out of the door to school, then rest until he is home and needing dinner and parenting until bed time.
I’ve long since learned not to sweat the small stuff at these times. Granted, I’ve never had a fibro flare last quite this long before, and it’s enough to make this grown woman cry on occasion. It hurts, and I have no energy or strength. And while nobody will die if the house doesn’t get hoovered for a week or two and things get a bit untidy, when it reaches the point where I struggle to stand long enough to cook dinner, it’s a bigger issue. We’re no longer living somewhere we’re surrounded by take-away options, and while the village store has a really amazing range of things for village this small, what it doesn’t have is biscuits we can eat. And sometimes, dear reader, a biscuit – or a cookie, for my American readers – is very much what is called for. This is one such time.
H has a tendency to bemoan the lack of a biscuit option in the shops, because a lot of the gluten free ones you can buy in the shops contain things that are incompatible with a low FODMAP diet. Fortunately, these ginger biscuits hit the spot for a crumbly, satisfyingly spicy mouthful to dunk in a cup of Yorkshire tea, and they don’t require much work: just put the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer and let it do its thing then, like today, leave the dough to rest until a willing 12 year old comes home from school and can do the hard work of rolling and cutting the dough and putting things in the oven to bake.
Spicy gluten free ginger biscuits
Spicy, GF and low FODMAP ginger biscuits: easy to make and a great way to get kids in the kitchen
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
450g plain GF flour (e.g. Doves Farm)
210g caster sugar
3g baking powder
11g ground ginger
10g ground cinnamon
2g cayenne pepper
1 large pinch of salt
1 large free range egg
95g maple syrup
30ml cold water
Sift the flour, salt and spices into the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if you're doing this by hand)
Add the sugar and butter to the dry ingredients and start the mixer on a low speed, or rub the butter into the ingredients by hand until the mixture is a lightly crumbed texture
With the mixer still on a low speed, add the egg and the maple syrup to the mixture and leave to mix. Depending on how thirsty the flour is - not all gluten free flours are created equal - you may need to add all of the 30ml of water to the mixture as well to achieve a stiff, even dough. As you've probably gathered, you can do this step by hand as well, but if I'm making these it's usually because I'm not feeling up to doing much, and the mixer wins. Every. Single. Time.
Wrap the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour to rest.
When you're ready to make the biscuits, preheat the oven to 180 C and sprinkle some flour over your work surface. Roll out a quarter of the dough on the surface until it's around 5mm thick. Using a 2 inch cutter, cut circles of the dough and place on an oven tray lined with baking parchment. Again, we're going low effort here, so it's worth spending the extra on siliconised parchment rather than greaseproof paper.
Bake for 20 minutes, then leave for 5 minutes before transferring the biscuits to a cooling rack. Using a 2 inch cutter should get you 95-100 biscuits/cookies. The dough will happily keep for a day or two in the fridge if you want to split the baking. I've not tried freezing it for future use, but I suspect this would freeze fine.
When the biscuits are cool, transfer to an airtight container, where they will last as long as your willpower dictates. Now you know why I've not tried freezing the dough yet!
Suitable for the following diets: gluten free, lactose free, low FODMAP, vegetarian
These are also excellent when crushed and used as the base to a baked cheesecake.