As I sit here writing this all I can think about is whether a certain email has arrived yet. I'm waiting to see if I have been selected to go down to London to be on a panel to test out some baking bits and I'm super excited about it to the point where I'm checking my emails every five minutes and also my phone for missed calls despite having had it with me all day. If the lovely people from Eaglemoss Publications or the selection team are reading this then I would absolutely, definitely, 100% travel to London and test/discuss these things with you. Every new piece of baking equipment I get goes through a test and christening process and it would be so much fun to do this with other bakers. Oops, there I go again, another email check.
It isn't the thought of going to London that has got me so incredibly hooked. I've had a taste of the tourist thing and like it but there are plenty of other places I'd like to explore. It's the thought of travelling on the train and that means only one thing...ADVENTURE!! I absolutely adore adventures and those that are accompanied by a long train journey seem even better somehow. Maybe it's the anticipation, the build of excitement as you get closer and closer to your destination. I took myself off on an adventure to the Edinburgh book festival a couple of years ago and was practically bouncing up and down in my seat annoying the other passengers as we went through the beautiful scenery. I went first class too because there was a really good deal on so I got a few funny looks. Aventures were you end up utterly exhausted at the end of them don't put me off either, it makes it all the better. Otherwise you just end up feeling like you had popped out for the afternoon and got back just in time for tea. That trip to Edinburgh resulted in me treking about the Old and New Town with my friend Lesley (hi Lesley!) all day then finding my way to the book events in the evening, more events the next day before an exploration of the shops and Fringe Festival at which time the sky decided I had stayed dry long enough and made up for it by turning very dark, very mutinous and very, very wet. Even my clothes beneath my rain mac were soggy and I still had a couple of hours to go before I got my train home during which time I had to protect my precious new books from disintergrating. However, it was all worth it. Every single second. Mind you, that is easy for me to say on a warm and breezey day like today!
These biscuits would be perfect to take on an adventure or a picnic. They will allow you to feel a little smug because you have treats which are so much tastier than shop bought digestives you'll just know that the person closest to you will never again look at a packet digestive without being dismayed. If you are feeling very kind you could offer them one as they are a good sharing biscuit too. In fact, they are good for lots of things. Afternoon tea, supper time, arranged nicely in a pretty tin as a present...the list goes on. I've wanted to make my own digiestives for some time now and read quite a few other recipes and blogs as way of research and half seemed to include oats and half didn't. That had me confused because nobody argues that McVities digestives are not atually digestives and yet they don't have oats in. Surely the inclusion of oats or oatmeal makes the biscuit a HobNob? I decided against oats in the end because, whether they were originally included or not, I grew up believing that McVities were the kings of digestives and even if now they have been overruled by the might of home bakers everywhere, they still deserve a modicum of respect. So here you go, make a batch, put the kettle on and settle down to relax for half an hour.
6oz wholemeal plain flour
2oz plain white flour
1 tsp baking powder (omit if using self raising flours instead)
3.5oz butter, chilled and cubed
2oz soft brown sugar, dark or light
1 tsp vanilla extract
milk to mix
Bournville or another chocolate, one square per biscuit so 20-24 ish
2oz chocolate chips (not needed for the original, see adaptations to come later)
Stir in the sugar, add the vanilla and mix in enough milk to bind the dough together. You'll need to squash it together with your hands to bring it into a ball. It should be soft but not dry or sticky.
Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Split the dough in half and roll out one halfto a few mm thick on another sheet of baking paper. You can save this sheet to line a tray with another time.
Using a biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as you can and place them on the lined sheet. Squash the offcuts together and repeat until the sheet is full. The cutter size is up to you really. I used one which was about 7cm. Press a fork into each circle in any pattern you wish. These pokey holes helf the biscuits to bake better and not puff up.
Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for about 15 mins turning half way through. The exact time will depend on the biscuit thickness and size. When they are golden and firm round the edges, remove from the oven and quickly place a square (half a square if you are being good, two squares if you want adisc of chocolate with a sliver of biscuit) on each one. As it begins to melt push it around to cover the whole surface and when fully melted transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If you don't want to cover up the fork patterns, flip each biscuit over before adding the chocolate piece.
While the first tray is baking, prepare the second half of the dough and bake as before once you have a free tray again.
Now is the hardest part. Ideally you want to let the chocolate fully set before you gobble them up/enjoy them nicely but this may be too long. I know the appeal of glossy melted chocolate was almost too much of a tempation for me. If it is a really hot day the chocolate may not go back to as hard as it was in bar form in which case you'll have to use your best judgement as to when to stop waiting. (It isn't really a good idea to put them in the frisge unless you want a sugar bloom to develop.) If you need the gratification that can only be achieved from a homemade biscuit before the weather wants to allow it so go ahead. No-one who tries one of these will judge you. And after all, you are about to eat the evidence so who will know?!