My son turned 9 last month and we had the usual party – at the Center for Computing History in Cambridge – they have ‘Retro Gaming Parties’ for all ages. The kids had a blast and their parents are now planning their own gaming party soon.
He wanted a Tardis Birthday Cake originally and we looked at tutorials online, but as I can’t actually decorate a cake…. we went for “Fish Fingers & Custard” also from Doctor Who. If you don’t remember, Matt Smith’s first episode when he met Amy Pond – he tried out food to see what he liked and decided on ‘Fish fingers and custard’. The show used cake, apparently, but I decided on Shortbread.
They are a little time consuming to make, but worth it for the look on the kids’ faces! Some only tried one because another Mum said they had to try one or they couldn’t play more computer games, and a couple wouldn’t eat them with custard so they had jelly instead. The recipe makes enough for 60 shortbread fingers.
12 oz./375g soft unsalted butter (do not use margarine!)
6 oz./165g white sugar
19 oz./590g plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 tsp salt
5-6 egg yolks
200g digestive biscuits or graham crackers
4 tbsp melted butter
3 oz./100g sugar
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – I use an electric mixer. Sift in half the flour and the salt, then mix again. Sift in the rest of the flour and mix. Separate into 2 balls, wrap one up in cling film. If it’s very soft, put it into the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
Roll out one ball of dough on a floured surface to about 9-10mm (3/8″) thick – about the thickness of a fish finger. Try to make it as rectangular as possible. Cut out fingers about 7.5cm (3″) long and 2.5cm (1″) wide. I cut each row out as I went along to try to get as many out of each sheet as possible. I used a small ruler so they would all be the same. Place each one on a cookie sheet with parchment/baking paper on it and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other ball of dough, then again using the leftovers of both together.
Crush the biscuits/crackers. I used a food processor to make crumbs then added the sugar and melted butter and pulsed a few times to mix. Place on a plate or pie plate. (you’ll probably need to make this in batches depending on the size of your food processor). Once the fingers are chilled, whisk the egg yolks with enough water to thin them out a little.
Put each finger in the egg mix and make sure they get covered, then transfer to the coating plate. Cover each one well, pressing down to coat. Remove back to the cookie sheet. Repeat until all the fingers have been coated. Put the cookie sheet back in the fridge to chill again for 15 minutes. Make sure you don’t crowd the cookie sheet, they will spread a little and you don’t want them to stick together. (I put mine a little too close together).
Bake at 180’C for 15-20 minutes or until they are cooked and start to brown. The ‘breading’ should crack a little and they should look like actual fish fingers. Carefully take off the sheet and onto a rack to cool. They will be soft and break easily when hot.
We served them in icecream tubs with bought custard – there were a couple of kids who just couldn’t get past the ‘fish fingers’ look and eat them with custard and a couple who gingerly tried then realised they were biscuits and dug right in. It was an easy birthday dessert, and perfect for a party too.