This week’s theme on The Great British Bake Off was a new one again, Tudor week. Which filled me with dread thinking about the game pies that I might be required to make.
Instead of a savoury pie though (which they did have to make for their Signature bakes), we had to make these ‘sweet’ jumble biscuits which sounded just as gross as a game pie to me considering they were due to be filled with aniseed and carraway seeds. Gross.
So the challenge was to make these aniseedy jumble biscuits, 4 of each shape – 4 knotted balls and 4 Celtic knots. I couldn’t actually bring myself to either buy or ruin a bake with aniseed, so I just used cinnamon and a bit of mace.
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 375g/13oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ tsp ground aniseed
- ½ tsp ground mace
- 60g/2¼oz unsalted butter, cubed
- 150g/5½oz caster sugar
- 1 large or 2 small unwaxed lemons, finely grated zest only
- 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
- caster sugar, for sprinkling
- Line two large baking trays with baking parchment.
- Place the caraway seeds in a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder. Sieve the caraway, flour, aniseed and mace together into a bowl.
- Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs and bring the mixture together to form a soft dough.
- Divide the dough into four balls weighing 65g/2½ and four balls weighing 85g/3oz (you might have a little leftover). Place the dough balls on one of the prepared trays, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
- Knead the four smaller pieces of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll using your fingertips into a 30cm/12in rope. Knot into double knots and place on one of the lined trays.
- Shape the remaining four larger pieces of dough into long ropes and cut away a quarter of each rope. Lay out (as pictured) into Celtic knots, using the reserved dough to make the rings that sit on top. Place them directly onto the other lined tray. (The double knots will take an extra 5–10 minutes longer to bake, so don’t mix shapes on the baking trays.)
- Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake the Celtic knots for 15–20 minutes, until golden-brown and the double knots for 20–25 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Paul's instructions for forming the shapes are pretty terrible. The knot balls are not just 'double knots' as the instructions suggest. You make one knot then bring one end up and over to the centre of the ball, then bring the other end of the knot around and underneath the knot so the 2 ends of the knot meet in the middle from opposite directions. (This is easier than it sounds).
- To form the Celtic knot, you place the dough in a 'frown' shape on the counter then curve up each side. Then place the circle on top as a separate piece. Link to another blog with pictures below.
The hardest bit about the bake clearly was forming the Celtic knot, and it was harder than I expected considering how short the dough was and liable to split. In order to form that Celtic shape I had to refer to more precise instructions than Paul Hollywood gave, using this recipe from a fellow blogger for guidance. (Hers looked tastier as they contained Graham Crackers and I was tempted just to follow her recipe but I’m still trying to stay true to these technical bakes.) But I still struggled to get my circle to like meld into the lower portion of the shape seamlessly. It was quite clearly a separate piece on my bakes. I made 2 of them thinner and bigger and I think they looked better in some ways and worse in others:
But all in all even with replacing the caraway with cinnamon and the aniseed with mace, I swear these just tasted off. With so many other types of biscuits out there, why you’d ever make these is a mystery to me. Eating them just out of the oven I swear they tasted fishy. Fishy. I mean, I’ve never cooked fish in that oven so that doesn’t make any sense. But Adam agreed.
Why not make a custard cream, why not a bourbon biscuit? Why not just a delicious biscuit that’s shaped as a Celtic knot if you want us to shape things in a specific way? Paul is clearly just running out of ideas.