Posts Tagged ‘Guardian recipe’

Last weekend, I baked a batch of David Lebovitz’ chocolate biscotti.  Actually, I attempted two batches, but owing to a bad case of brain fog, I omitted the sugar the first time and then burnt the almonds.  Attempt #2 was more successful. As these are one of my favourite cookies, it was well worth the effort!

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I also tried this new recipe by Dan Lepard for red Leicester cheese biscuits (cookies).  They were very easy to make and as my boys aren’t fans of caraway, I rolled them in poppy seeds. The entire batch was eaten that evening!

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Finally, I made Jamie Oliver’s Ultimate Gingerbread – appealing because I was making shortbread cookies as a gift, and had a half batch of dough leftover.  The recipe appears in his book Cook with Jamie, and suggests using either homemade or shopbought shortbread as a starting point.  Here’s my take on the recipe…

  • 400g shortbread (I used cookies made with our shortbread freezer dough)
  • 170g raw or demerara sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 40g mixed peel (I used some Italian cedro)
  • 40g crystallised ginger
  • 70g plain (AP)  flour
  • pinch of baking powder
  • 40g treacle
  • 40g date molasses (original recipe specified golden syrup)
  • 70g unsalted butter

1. I began by baking a batch of unsugared shortbead cookies, although shop bought or other homemade shortbread should also work fine in this recipe.  Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) or 160C (320F) with fan.  Line a tray with parchment paper – I used my 23cm x 33cm (9″ x 13″) baking pan.

2. Blitz the cookies in a food processor with the sugar and two teaspoons of the ground ginger to form crumbs.  Remove 100g of the crumbs for later use.

3. Chop the peel and crystallised ginger, then add them to the food processor with the flour, baking powder and the remaining teaspoon of ground ginger.  Pulse the mixture until well combined.

4.  In a big stock pot (it needs to be large enough to hold all the mixture), melt together the butter, treacle and date molasses (or golden syrup) and then add all the ingredients from the food processor (excluding the reserved crumbs) and stir really well to combine.

5. Scrape the gingerbread mixture into the lined baking pan and spread it out  evenly with a spatula or clean hands. It will be very flat and dense.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the top.  Press down firmly on the crumbs with a spatula to stick them to the hot gingerbread.  Cut the gingerbread into serving size slices, then leave to cool completely in the pan before serving.

This recipe isn’t for everyone, but for true ginger aficionados, it’s a great treat with a cup of hot tea or coffee!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe



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Spelt is one of the so called “ancient grains”, grown in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times. It’s related to modern day wheat, but with a noticeably different flavour and some purported health benefits.  These include a broader nutritional profile, and a more easily digestible protein structure, which makes spelt accessible to some people with wheat intolerances.  However, it does contain gluten, which means it’s not suitable for coeliacs.

Spelt flour is very expensive – a kilo costs six times as much as regular bakers’ flour, and twice as much as organic bakers’ flour.  Having said that, it makes little difference when you compare the cost of using it at home to the price of purchasing ready made – an organic spelt loaf might cost $2.50 in raw materials, but a loaf of sourdough (made with regular bakers flour) from a reputable bakery could set you back $8 or more.

As we were delighted with the results of our 100% white spelt loaves, I thought it might be fun to experiment with organic wholemeal spelt.

The 100% spelt sourdough loaves I made were slow to prove, and despite a surprising amount of oven spring, the wholemeal crumb didn’t display the huge holes of the white spelt.  That didn’t detract from the bread though, which was deliciously nutty and, as Pete put it, wholesome.  The rising dough and  baking loaves exuded the most gorgeous aromas and our sons, who don’t usually like anything other than white bread, ate an entire loaf between them for lunch, smothered in peanut butter and jam.  The spelt baguettes formed the backbone of a vegetarian dinner we had on the weekend, and went perfectly with Pete’s beetroot dip and guacamole.

Emboldened by this success, I tried using the wholemeal spelt in Dan Lepard’s Guardian cookie recipe.  I substituted cranberries for the dried blueberries (which are prohibitively expensive here) and omitted the almond essence.  Dan’s recipe was written for regular wholemeal flour, and the essence was included in part to mask any bitterness in the flour.  As the spelt has a nutty, sweet flavour, I didn’t think it was necessary here.

The end result were these chewy, moreish treats, reminiscent of old-fashioned oatmeal cookies. I’ve already eaten two this morning!

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I’ve been baking bread…

…most recently, five loaves of sourdough spelt. My breadbaking schedule tends to be dictated by my sourdough starter – when it’s frothy and ripe, I’ll  often mix up a batch of dough, even if it wasn’t planned.  I purchased organic Canadian spelt (we didn’t grow any in Australia last year) from Santos Trading, and it was beautifully responsive…

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This yeasted multigrain loaf was my contribution to the Mellow Bakers’ August bake-along – it’s based on a recipe from Jeffery Hamelman’s Bread

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Finally, I just couldn’t resist this peanut-peanut butter-tahini-cumin-chipotle loaf featured in Dan Lepard’s Guardian column. I substituted an eighth of a teaspoon of chipotle powder for the roasted chillis, as I didn’t have any of the latter on hand.  It was delicious with nasturtium pesto and cheese!

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One of the nice thing about Dan Lepard’s recipes is that they’re often so quintessentially British, despite the fact that he started life as a Melbourne boy.  This delicious rye apple cake recipe is a good example – with the addition of golden syrup, apple, rye flour and almonds, the end result is a cross between a tea cake and a muffin, albeit with better keeping properties than either.

I had everything on hand – Kevin Sherrie’s organic rye flour, unblanched almond meal from Santos Trading (a rare and exciting discovery) and crisp, new season pink lady apples.

The recipe is here, and I followed the methodology exactly, with a couple of substitutions.  Instead of muscovado sugar, I used soft brown sugar, and I replaced 50g of the flaked almonds with 50g of unblanched almond meal.  I baked the cake in my trusty Chicago Metallics cake tin and it took 45 minutes to cook to perfection in my 175C fan assisted oven. Note that some bakers on Dan’s forum needed to extend the baking time for this recipe.

We had this for dessert last night, but it was even better this morning with a hot cup of tea!


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