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It's never too late to learn to bake with Mrs Simkins                                                        April 2010  

It’s Never Too Late to Learn to Bake with Mrs Simkins

Cooking with Mrs Simkins: How to Cook Simple, Wholesome, Home-made Meals Popular cookery author Mrs Simkins is recognised for her straightforward writing and easy-to-follow recipes.

Her work, which includes a weekly column in the popular Blackmore Vale Magazine in the West Country, is based on a lifelong interest in food and developing new recipes plus over thirty years cooking for family and friends.

See Mrs Simkins Suggests... for kitchen equipment suggestions

Her first book ‘Cooking with Mrs Simkins’ is out now and available from Amazon. Her second book ‘Tea with Mrs Simkins’ will be published in September.



Baking may be one of those things you have always meant to do but have never quite got around to. Maybe you do bake but feel you could improve a bit more. Maybe you are an accomplished baker already but just love trying out new recipes or new ways of doing things. Whichever applies to you, I hope you will find something in this monthly column that will appeal!


This month

Making Biscuits

biscuitsBiscuits are actually very simple to make. Children love home made biscuits and it’s lovely to be able to offer home-made biscuits with a sociable cup of tea or coffee when friends call round.

Just be careful not to over-cook them as they can burn very easily. They only take a few minute to bake: if you think about how thin biscuits are in relation to a cake and you will see how it only takes a minute to overdo them by mistake. Most biscuits only need to be in the oven for between 5 and 8 minutes or so.

Always use a timer so you know when to check. When biscuits first come out of the oven they are still soft and you might be tempted to put them back for a minute or two. Don’t: they will soon harden as they cool down.

Some biscuits are meant to be more of a slightly chewy cookie consistency rather than crisp and brittle.

Get to know your oven and make notes of cooking times and temperatures that work for a particular recipe in your oven and refer back to them.

Easter Biscuits

This is a really adaptable fairly crisp Shrewsbury type biscuit recipe, perfect for making Easter Biscuits.

You can cut the biscuits out with a fluted round cutter, or if you are making them with or for children, you can use novelty cutters instead. The biscuits are lovely plain, or you can flavour them more specifically with the finely grated zest of a lemon or ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. If you would like a fruit biscuit, stir in 110g (2 oz) of currants.

When you are making them for Easter, you might want to add ¼ teaspoon of mixed spice, as Easter Biscuits are usually gently spiced. A little white caster sugar sifted over these biscuits is a nice touch.

Makes approximately 24 biscuits, depending on cutter size


200g (7oz) plain flour
110g (4oz) softened butter
75g (3oz) unrefined caster sugar
2 eggs: 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, beaten
¼ teaspoon mixed spice, if liked

You will need a large greased baking tray
Preheat oven to 180C (fan oven) or equivalent


Put the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon until completely mixed together and fluffy.

Sieve the flour (and spice, if using) over the mixture and add the egg and egg yolk. Stir together with the wooden spoon until it is fairly well mixed and most of the flour has been absorbed. It will be quite stiff.

You will need to get your hands in now to finish the mixing: the warmth from your hands will help bind everything together. Put the mixture onto a floured board and continue to knead the mixture until you have what looks (and feels) like a large ball of marzipan.

Roll out with a floured rolling pin to a thickness of a bit more than a pound coin. Cut out with your chosen cutters and transfer to the prepared baking tray.

Bake for 7-8 minutes or until very pale golden. Remove fairly swiftly from the baking tray with a small palette knife, and cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with caster sugar, if liked. Once cooled, they will keep in an airtight tin for several days.

You can email Mrs Simkins at


Mrs Simkins Suggests...

egg timerPink Spotted Egg Mechanical Timer £5.50

If by any chance the timer on your oven has broken and you need to buy a mechanical one you might consider this spotty egg version.

You can get a bit carried away with novelty timers and before you know where you are you have a shelf full! But this one is so cute and practical at the same time. It has a simple clockwork mechanism and will time up to 60 minutes. Perfect for boiled eggs and perfect for biscuits!

It would also make a nice inexpensive alternative to a chocolate egg for an adult at Easter.


Previous articles in the series:

Cookery Column 1 - Baking scones



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