Baking can conjure up many memories and when you’re feeling down or feeling jubilant food is often what people turn to. Whether it’s baking a cake to celebrate good news or cooking a heart warming chicken soup to make someone feel better, food really does cover all the bases.
I received very sad news last week that our Nanny has passed away so I spent much time and thought working out what I could bake that might bring to life what a wonderful lady my Nanny was.
I have two particular memories, one very old and one much more current that both conjure up great times in my past.
When I was little, I was most definitely a little tomboy, but, I did have two very definite loves in my life. One was toy doll called Cricket, which was a talking doll, (quite revolutionary at the time!) and I’d sit for hours listening to her sing me songs and tell me stories and jokes. The other was Rainbow Brite. Rainbow Brite was a cartoon about a blonde girl with a pony tail, with a bright dress and she rode a beautiful white horse (lucky for my parents I never wanted a pony!)
For my birthday, I’m guessing I must have been about 7 years old, my Nanny made me by hand the most BEAUTIFUL Rainbow Brite dress to wear to my party. It was amazing, the absolute spitting image of Rainbow Brite’s dress and I was the happiest girl in the world. The only sad part to the story is that our dog Barnaby ate my dress, at least he waited till after the party!
Nanny was wonderful with a thread and needle and even made my Mum’s wedding dress. She’d always be kind enough to sew back on buttons, take up trousers and fix tops for me. If she’d been younger today, no doubt she’d have taken part in the Great British Sewing Bee.
My more recent very fond memory I have is from a couple of years ago on Mother’s Day. My sister and I decided to make Champagne afternoon tea for our mum and Nanny. We spent hours putting together an afternoon tea menu beginning with the savoury dishes including tomato and basil tart tatin, sandwiches, sausage rolls and smoked salmon blinis followed by the sweets made up of lemon drizzle cake, jam tarts, banana muffins and mini dark chocolate and raspberry swirl cheesecake .
And of course washed down with the customary bubbles!
Now little did I know that Nanny had quite a taste for bubbles and at times she glanced at her glass expectantly when it started to look a little depleted. This was a lady after my own heart. I now know where I’ve got my taste for it from.
We had a lovely afternoon, three generations catching up over homemade food and re-living some old memories whilst producing new ones. A fabulous afternoon at home.
As I said, I’d been thinking about what I could bake this weekend and decided to make some jammy dodgers with the twist of a peanut butter biscuit. I’d seen on the little loaf blog how she made jammie dodgers into button shapes and I loved the idea.
I thought I’d have a go at the button style jammie dodgers in honour of Nanny’s sewing skills and topping the others with a small rainbow in memory of that Rainbow Brite dress.
They are a little rustic looking but that just proves they are homemade and isn’t it all down to the bake and the flavour anyway?! I never was the artist of the family and my little rainbows won’t be winning any awards in creativity!
Peanut butter and jam is a well-known American flavour which I personally love. The peanut butter isn’t over powering, there is just a hint of it, so if you’re not a huge peanut butter fan, I think you’ll still like these.
The biscuits are soft, crumbly and light and the jam just oozes out the sides in an enticing manner. The strawberries give a little bit of extra jammy sweetness between two mourish biscuit layers.
It reminds me of being at a children’s party with lovely sweet biscuits out on paper plates and little hands diving for the ones decorated most brightly.
Nanny always had a sweet tooth, I think she’d approve… as long as there was a glass of bubbles to wash them down.
Peanut Butter Jammie Dodger with a Rainbow Brite twist, inspired by Nanny
Recipe and style of biscuit from The Little Loaf
160g butter, softened
135g peanut butter
60g granulated sugar
85g soft brown sugar
175g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large free range egg
Strawberry jam – I used Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve and finished off half a jar
In a large bowl cream together the butter, peanut butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together then beat into the butter mixture. Add the vanilla and egg and beat to combine.
I found the dough very sticky (and if you think yours is too sticky add a tablespoon more of flour), but you should be able to shape them into two rough balls, wrap them in cling film and pop them in the fridge for a couple of hours. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Take one ball of biscuit dough out the fridge, because they do get soft very quickly, this way you can roll one out and then move on to the next.
If you find the dough is still very soft and you’re not able to roll them out, I’d pop them in the freezer for 20 minutes, to firm up a little more. Just keep an eye on them.
Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour then roll the dough out to about half a centimetre thick.
Using a cookie cutter, cut circles of your desired size out of the dough.
Place your biscuits on the prepared trays and bake for 5-6 minutes. They should be very slightly firm when coming out the oven at this point.
Remove the biscuits from the oven and, using a circular cutter slightly smaller than the biscuit itself (I used the end of a piping nozzle), mark a circle indent on each cookie, making sure not to press all the way through or they will crumble apart when they are baked. Make four little holes with the end of a skewer for the button holes then return to the oven for a further five minutes.
Remove the biscuits from the oven again and, one at a time, turn half the biscuits upside down. Then top the upside down biscuits with half a teaspoon of strawberry jam. Then lightly press a biscuit on top.
Repeat until all the biscuits are matched up then bake for a further 6 – 9 minutes until crisp and the jam has gone syrupy and stuck the two halves together.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before eating.
Pour a glass of bubbles and indulge in a lovely peanut butter jammie dodger!