Friday 10 September 2010

My Cup of Tea (with biscuits)

Summer has evidently declared itself to be over, now that the Northwest's signature greyness has crept back into the sky. Usually I have nothing against clouds and rain, not in the least - but right now I'm not ready for them yet. It's just too soon to be sitting here in a sweater, watching the drizzle spatter on the balcony railing. 

Still, the sweater is cosy. That is something I do like about fall - staying warm, wearing sweaters and curling up beneath blankets. Comforting. 

To tell the truth, I suppose I've been needing something like that for a while now. Over the past few months I've been having to deal with some unexpected health problems. They've left me drained to say the least. Practically everything I want or need to do, even simply keeping up with things, has been hard...even baking leaves me tired. (Not to mention trying to bake something nice enough to post, though I've really missed doing so.) Everything feels exhaustingly difficult. 

A dreary day like this, then, basically reminded me to take the time to curl up in my sweater and rest. This is definitely a good day for something comforting. 

Right away I knew I needed a big cup of tea...and something to go with it. Something sweet. Something...nobbly. Have you ever had a HobNob? In case you haven't, they are a type of biscuit, sweet and, well, (as the package says) nobbly. I think the word describes the texture perfectly - crisp and crumbly like a biscuit, but with lots of oats as well. (Further posts on biscuits to follow, I'm sure. They're too yummy to only mention once! Also, I do drink a lot of tea.)

So, I set out to replicate them and satisfy my biscuit craving. However, it wasn't like trying to convert a homemade recipe (as, of course, this is a packaged biscuit I was trying to imitate). The result wasn't really what I was aiming for - it wasn't quite a HobNob. But apart from that, it was certainly a biscuit - quite a tasty biscuit at that. So even though it's not what I meant to make, this recipe is just too good to not share.

Crisp Oat Biscuits 
Makes 12 - 14 

50 g (1/2 c) certified GF oats
15 g (1 1/2 T) teff flour
20 g (1/4 c) chestnut flour
30 g (1/3 c) tapioca flour
10 g (2 tsp) rice bran
75 g (1/2 c) sugar

1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each of baking soda and baking powder
1/8 tsp pectin (optional, but makes dough easier to handle)

5 1/2 T organic palm shortening, such as Spectrum
30 mL (2 T) cold water

Mix all the dry ingredients together, then cut in the shortening. Rub the shortening into the mixture with your fingers until it resembles a bowl of breadcrumbs. Then sprinkle in the water a little at a time, smashing the dough together each time - it should be just wet enough to hold together, but firm enough that you can roll it out (not wet like batter).

Preheat your oven to 190 C/ 375 F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and carefully roll out the dough so it is very thin. (I used the side of a glass, and did not have problems with sticking.) Cut out round shapes with a biscuit cutter or a glass. Gather up the scraps of dough in between the rounds, and roll it out to cut more rounds. Repeat until all the dough is used. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the biscuits are slightly golden. Remove to a rack to cool.

Whilst waiting for them to cool, make a pot of tea! It is especially nice to dip the biscuits in the tea. Enjoy!


  1. Do you have any chestnut flour recipes? i just bought some and am trying to figure out what to make!

  2. Most of my recipes on here use some chestnut flour, although this one and the Fougasse bread are the only ones that are both dairy-free and egg-free. (I am working on making more vegan breads though!) I imagine it could be added to pretty much anything for a slightly sweet/nutty taste and finer texture. It is very good in crepes, though I don't know how to do those without eggs yet either.

    I'd recommend keeping in mind that it is very fine/light and not very high in protein - it is not as light as a starch, but I've found it does work best if it is in addition to (rather than in place of) more substantial flours like buckwheat, teff, sorghum, etc.

    I hope this helps...let me know what you end up making!

  3. Meg, These look so tasty!
    I have thought of you and my other GF comrads lately as my family and I travel in search of tasty GF meals. I must tell you Australia is beyond gluten-free friendly. Every restaurant/cafe/bakery has plentiful GF options. I only wish it becomes this common in the US.