A vintage concoction

The Great British Bake Off is upon us again - hurrah! So two episodes in and I have just about satisfied any cravings stirred up by the contestants and am now prepared to take a break from eating and have a go myself...

Of course I had to match my outfit to the activity (did I mention I'm a little bit obsessed?). When doing stereotypical 'woman' stuff like baking or dusting or having some down-time with a needle and thread I always feel the need to look feminine whilst I'm doing it. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite the little feminist but I don't mind carrying out tasks that are often associated with women as long as it's on my terms; order me to get back in the kitchen and I'll come at you with a meat mallet!! Gentlemen - you have been warned! So because I feel it's sweet and girly and any woman dressed this way in the vicinity of food instantly has that "Oh my! Apple pie!" vibe, and also because the GBBO makes me feel all patriotic and reminiscent of the war effort, I opted for some vintage attire.

Being a bit of a stickler for co-ordination and accuracy, I didn't feel quite right twirling about in my victory curls and red lippy in a kitchen that was decidedly not vintage. Fussy, I know, but luckily my sister, Eve, has one of those adorable cream coloured kitchens compact with little wooden picture frames, cupcake oven gloves and a sweet array of cookbooks all neatly stacked according to size (yes she's a stickler for co-ordination and accuracy too). So I packed up my ingredients and with bouncing ringlets turned up at her door and declared in my best Vera Lynn voice that England needed us and we must bake immediately! Luckily she was more than happy to help, which I was secretly counting on as she's a fab baker whereas the results of my baking sometimes necessitate an acquired taste...

(Cookbook stand with weights: Dibor, £19
Mini mixer timer: Boots Christmas range
Button magnets: Ebay, £2.79 + £1.10 p&p for 10
Apron peg from a cute little shop in Bath called PinkArt
Personalised apron bought in Venice)

So here we go! Week II: Biscuits.

Pistachio and cranberry biscotti
6 tbsp butter or marg
3/4 cups granulated/caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
dried cranberries
shelled pistachios

 Pre-heat oven to 180ºC (fan assisted)

First of all I took the shells off the pistachio nuts and cut them up in halves or quarters. 

I then beat the butter and sugar together, then added in the eggs and vanilla. Once this was thoroughly mixed, I added the flour and baking powder through a sieve.

Once this was mixed I added the pistachios and cranberries. I didn't cut up the cranberries as I wanted relatively large pieces in my biscotti.

Once everything had been mixed together, I placed the dough on a tray lined with baking paper and spread it out evenly into a rectangle using a knife/spoon/my fingies :)

The recipe I was following suggested keeping the dough about 1/2 an inch thick and not spreading it too close to the sides (this is good advice - mine ended up a little close to the edges).

I then popped it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes (perfect opportunity for a cup of tea), took it out and with a sharp knife cut down the length of the tray in strips and then made three inscisions across to create 'biscotti' shapes. Turning them over, I stuck them back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

Et voila, cranberry and pistachio biscotti! I would have liked for the top to have come out more rounded like biscotti normally are as on mine the dough cracked a bit here rather than curving, but hey - it was my first time!

I had a lot of fun making these so I have decided to set myself the exciting challenge of following the GBBO episodes and baking something each week in accordance with the themes. Next week is bread, which I have never made before... looks like I'll need to solicit the help of my dear sister again... prepare for crumbs and chaos!

I found the recipe for cranberry and pistachio biscotti on Pinterest so for a more thorough and detailed version follow the link:
(take note that this is an American recipe so for the oven setting in Celsius look above).

For a tutorial on how to create 40's victory curls have a look at this YouTube video by Kayley Melissa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOzAchYub1I