Since my last post, my life has changed a lot. We went from a couple to a family of four, with the adoption of two under-threes. I’m still baking a lot – all our bread, pizza night once a week, a lot of flapjack, and various things – but I don’t have the time or mental energy to blog as regularly, as I’m really not used to sleeping in fitful hour segments when repeatedly woken up by screams and the flashing lights of the baby monitor, or “misery disco” as we call it.
Anyway, our toddler came to us with a very sweet tooth. We’ve tried to wean him off the industrial rubbish, but I’m not going to completely deprive him of biscuits and cake. Especially as I know what goes into what I make – and I almost always reduce the sugar in recipes by about 25 or 30 per cent. A comparison between my flapjacks and a batch made by my mum really highlighted this!
As well as eating a lot of flapjacks when we were little, we also ate a lot of Malted Milks – or “moo-cow biscuits” as they were known by myself, my big brother and my little sister when we were kids. I’m not interested in giving our toddler the factory version of these, but was intrigued to try a recipe called “The mega milky malt” in Justin Gellatly’s Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding.
These are one of those biscuits, or cookies, where you make the dough then refrigerate it overnight. I made mine early on Sunday morning, in time for a walk up our local hill in borderline-freezing temperatures – as winter seems to have reappeared this late-April. I did reduce the sugar: some bakers would say changing the proportions of fat to sugar affects the caramelisation and crunch, but the results still seem pretty good. I also cut them with a rectangular cookie cutter, in memory of the shape of the industrial moo-cow biscuits I ate so often all those years ago. Sadly I don’t have a stamp to add a cow design to to them.
The one vaguely unusual ingredient in these is malt syrup, which can usually be found in health food shops, and may be called malt essence.
250g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
100g soft light brown sugar
5g (1 tsp) vanilla essence
50g malt syrup
20g golden syrup
50g milk powder
400g plain flour
Pinch fine sea salt
1. If you have a mixer, or a handheld beater, it’s easier, but you can still do it with a bowl and a wooden spoon. Start by creaming together the butter and sugars.
2. Lightly beat the eggs and vanilla then beat into the creamed mixture.
3. Beat in the syrups, then add the milk powder and combine.
4. Add the pinch of salt, sieve in the flour then mix to form a well-combined dough.
5. Form the dough up into a slab or disc, wrap in plastic, then put in the fridge for about eight hours.
6. Heat the oven to 160C and line baking sheets.
7. Lightly flour the work surface, then roll out the dough – there’s quite a lot, so you might want to do it in pieces – to about 5mm thick. Stamp out with your cookie cutter of choice.
8. Place on the baking sheets then bake until golden-brown, about 15 minutes – this will vary depending on the fierceness of your oven.
9. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the trays then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
10. Store in an airtight container, or freeze until needed.
Our toddler seems happy with the results; I just wish he’d spontaneously incorporate a “please” into his demands occasionally. “Want bickit! More bickit!!” But we’re working on that. Amongst other things.
And thanks to Will “Mabel Jones” Mabbitt for the use of his lovely lighting for the top pic and for having our toddler over to play with his, an event I can’t quite bring myself to call a “playdate”.