Wednesday, 25 April 2012

'Biscuit' by Miranda Gore Browne - book review

Picture courtesy of EBury Publishing
Last week I was lucky enough to go to a book signing and a demonstration given by the author in London, it just happened that I was in exactly the right place just at the right time. The event was at Waterstone's Piccadilly (cost was just £6 for the evening) and the book was a new recipe book by Miranda Gore Browne. You might remember Miranda from the first series of the Great British Bake Off?

Miranda caught my eye on the first series with two things, first her chocolate cake with decorative buttons...took me ages to find that button mould but I got it in the end! AND her beautiful iced biscuits, they were so delicate and such lovely works of pure baking art, see above, far too pretty to eat, almost!

Fast forward to now and Miranda has written a recipe book and its appropriately entitled 'Biscuit'. Its full of recipes for all kinds of biscuits, everyday biscuits, special occasion biscuits, biscuits that are rolled, biscuits that are scooped, or pressed, savoury biscuits, fruity biscuits, plain biscuits, brownie biscuits, sweetie biscuits (biscuits with sweets in or on them). Its a bit of everything from the plain to the unusual, but all are biscuit inspired! The recipes are clearly laid out and easy to follow, there are not a lot of photographs in this book but it does not seem to affect the desire to want to bake from it once you look through it. I like the fact its a personal book with lots of endearing descriptions of children and family favourite recipes and short personal illustrations of the significance of some recipes that have been baked for generations. The chapters are divided up into easy (for beginners) and more complicated recipes. Tips and advice and variations to recipes are in there too.

Being able to go to the Waterstones signing meant I was able to take some of my own photographs and ask my own questions and pick up some biscuit baking tips. On top of all that I 'may' have eaten 4 chocolate chunk and 2 pesto, parmesan and pine nut (and taken 2 to work the next day) one or two of the freshly baked biscuits made by Miranda herself...
It was a real pleasure to meet Miranda and share some of her own recipes and baking, I think everyone at this event enjoyed the evening and improved their biscuit baking knowledge. I genuinely felt she has put a lot into this book, she had trialled the recipes herself or asked baking and non baking friends to have a go, to make sure they worked. She described how the recipes evolved and took on 'personalities of their own' and gave us lots of advice. I like the fact she has written a book about biscuits they are a very British thing (just as she described) we don't really have a lot of good recipe books about biscuits, as we are cookie led by the American market primarily.

Some of my photographs from the event...

Some of Miranda's top biscuit baking tips...and helpful advice...

  • Make sure your butter is soft enough to cream before you start.
  • Be meticulous about weighing your ingredients.
  • Test the temperature of your oven with a proper oven thermometer.
  • When you have made biscuit dough let it rest wrapped in the fridge. 
  • If your biscuit dough appears too wet do not add flour to it, let it rest.
  • Put biscuits on a COLD baking tray as a warm tray will cause them to spread.
  • Leave enough space between pre baked biscuits to let them spread.
  • When your biscuits are baked let them rest on the baking tray for a few minutes before lifting them onto a cooling rack. This allows them to set.
  • You can freshen up biscuits by putting them in a warm oven for about 5 minutes.
  • You can freeze biscuit dough wrapped in a film wrap and take it out of the freezer and after about an hour slice this ready to bake. Or freeze it in scoops on a baking tray and then transfer these scoops to a freezer bag.
  • The texture of biscuits will vary depending on the sugars used.
  • A small ice cream scoop is a great asset to making the same sized biscuits. 
  • If you want to make beautiful iced biscuits like the ones in the picture above, it needs to be done in stages, and cannot all be done in one go (unless you use sugar paste).

Miranda Gore Browne has a blog, where she shares more of her recipes you can follow it here.

Keep watching because my next post is a recipe I tried myself from 'Biscuit' and I have a copy of 'Biscuit' from EBury Publishing to give away to one lucky person.

N.B. EBury are the publishers and sent me my copy of 'Biscuit' to review honestly, and with no recompense for this review. I paid for my own ticket for the Waterstone's event because I wanted to. 


  1. Brilliant book review! I bought Biscuit last week and I love it. I've made the chocolate flapjack biscuits and they are so good. Can't wait to try more recipes :-)

    1. Yes I have my eye on those flapjack biscuits too. x

  2. Great review and some good tips there for biscuit baking.

  3. Sounds brilliant! With the domination of cupcakes and macarons the last few years it's great to see a new book entirely about biscuits.

    Thanks for the biscuit tips. I never leave my biscuit dough to set which is probably why they end up spreading into funny shapes!

    1. I agree about the books this makes a refreshing change. Some good tips which I will take on board with my own biscuit baking. x

  4. I agree this book does seem really good, I love baking biscuits...they don't usually last very long though! The only thing I would have done to improve this book is add more photos...if I can't see it I'm less likely to want to make it! :-)

    P.S I'm very jealous of the book signing...where did you hear about it?

    1. I saw a tweet from Waterstone's Piccadilly and it was on there. Waterstone's seem good to follow for events and signings at this and local branches too. x

  5. I'm so jealous you got to see Miranda! How did I not know about this? I love biscuits and cookies - probably more than cake! Can't wait to see what you've made. ps I'll definitely be entering the giveaway - no surprises there :)

  6. Sounds like a lovely event to go to - good timing being in London. What I remember most about Miranda is her being told of by PH for her raspberry icing being too pink - that really set my back up and have been an avid fan of bright pink raspberry icing ever since.

  7. What a great event it looks like it was very informative and fun. Love the look of the new book - a good review. I missed the first episode but wish I had seen it now. Good to know these contestents have not just dissapeared into the virtual world.

  8. What a fabulous day and book.....and, so nice to see a book called BISCUITS and NOT cookies too!


Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x