Nigella is a professional cook who has written extensively about recipes and health benefits associated with food.
Fork cookies could be the title for any type of biscuit or cookie you choose to make, which involves rolling the mixed ingredients into a ball and patting down with a fork, before baking.
Kids especially love fork cookies, not only to eat but also for their first forage into the world of home baking.
The recipe is very easy to follow, and not especially messy, either. The trouble with many recipes you find online is that they can be difficult to follow without some degree of expert knowledge or practical experience. But you don't need any of that to make fork cookies. You don't even need to have a load of baking ingredients in your larder!
All you need is:
- sugar, fine, sugar-like caster sugar is preferred, but granulated sugar does the job
- butter or margarine
- flour, preferably self-raising, but plain flour and baking powder will do
- a baking tray or two
- a cooling tray
- an oven
- a wooden spoon
- a bowl to mix
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1. Preheat oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4.
2. With your butter at room temperature (if you haven't used spreadable butter), cream butter and sugar together.
3. Add flour and work well into the mixture.
4. Put your wooden spoon aside and use your hands (wash first!) to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
5. Lightly grease a baking tray.
6. Roll a small dollop of the mixture between your palms into roughly the size of a walnut. (This mixture is not especially sticky and is quite easy to manipulate.)
7. Place it on the baking tray.
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8. Evenly space your little balls of the cookie mixture. Most standard oven trays will accommodate 12 balls. Leave plenty of space between each one for expansion.
9. Place in the oven for 15 minutes if you have a fan oven, or 20 minutes in a normal oven.
They are ready when they have lightly changed color from cream to beige.
10. Use a fish slice to move them from the oven to a cooling rack. At this point, they are still soft and pliable.
After about 10 minutes, they will have firmed up and are ready to eat!
Unless you have a huge oven, you will probably have to make them in batches in the oven.
Check Your Cookies Often as They Bake
Did you know that ovens are not calibrated? They give off roughly the same heat, but not exactly. This is why even the best cooks can trip up when using an oven they are not familiar with.
Things can go wrong when baking cookies, unless you have baked loads before. In some ovens, your cookies will be burnt given the recommended cooking times, while in others, they may be underdone.
Check often, and when your fork cookies have spread out and changed color, even ever-so-slightly, take them out. At this point, they will be soft and pliable and you would be forgiven for thinking they are underdone. They're probably not, they continue cooking and crisp up while resting on their wire cooling tray.
Use a fish slice or similar kitchen tool to remove them from their tray to prevent them from breaking.
Variations on the Fork Cookie Recipe: Custard Powder
If you replace a quarter of the flour with custard powder, you end up with a cookie that is so light it is flying!
To help peg it to ground, roll your walnut-sized balls of the mixture in sugar, before placing them in the oven.
In my experience, rolling in sugar (choose a fine sugar) creates a more friable cookie or biscuit. They don't look so good when coming out of the oven.
The taste is to die for! In this modern age of obesity, there is probably no need to add extra sugar.
Fork cookies are especially delicious with a cup of coffee or tea.
Memories of Fork Cookies
These fork cookies are very similar to the ones my Mom cooked when I was young.
I'm sure she used to time them to be ready just as we arrived home from school, and we'd walk into this wonderful homely scent of freshly-baked cookies.
We'd be allowed one each, maybe two if we pleaded hard enough!
We'd be certain to eat our dinner that night—our digestive juices having gone into overflow at the aroma created by fork cookies.