Monthly Archives: April 2020

Spelt, nut butter, chocolate chip cookies (aka mummy’s lockdown cookies)

I was craving a very particular kind of cookie when I made these: I wanted peanut butter, I wanted spelt or rye flour rather than white flour, and I wanted oats. Basically something a bit wholegrain, not madly high in sugar but definitely still feeling treaty. Because otherwise, just eat something else no?

This is a mishmash of a few recipes I had and really  tasty with, dare I say it, quite a lot of depth to them (dare I say it because: wanker alert). I’m not usually one to ‘make up’ a recipe (and I don’t feel this is really made up in that way but you know…as close as I’ll get). The chocolate chips still make these feel norty, but the other ingredients lessen the sweet-treat hit that makes you want to eat more and more. So in other words, a good, tasty cookie that isn’t just empty calories.

I used some hazelnut paste in the cupboard that I wanted to use up, but if you don’t have it then any nut butter will do. You absolutely do NOT need it for these and I wouldn’t buy it especially, it’s insanely expensive and rather a waste here but like I said, it was in the cupboard and needed using up so…

You need:

100g soft unsalted butter (or you can use salted and don’t add the salt later)

120g nut butter of your choice (so, I used half hazelnut paste, half peanut butter, crunchy)

150g sugar – I used caster and light brown

Two eggs

90g spelt flour (you can also use wholemeal plain, white plain if you must, or rye)

100g oats, any size or if you want to you can blend them so they are fine. I used large oat flakes which makes them a bit chewy

half a teaspoon of baking powder

a good pinch of salt (unless you are using salted butter in which case you don’t need any)

150g chocolate chips/pieces of your choice. I like to use a mix of small pieces and quite large bits and I use milk and dark because I’m all over the place with what I like

Method:

These make about 24. Oven to 190C you’ll also need a baking parchment lined tray.

Mix together the butter, nut butters and sugar until one big, buttery, sugary whole.

Add the eggs one at a time, until all blended, then add the flour, oats and baking powder with the salt if using. You can do this all by hand, it doesn’t need a lot of mixing.

Finally mix in the chocolate chips gently. You can dollop these onto the tray straight away – use a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop. They don’t spread out madly but give them a little space to do their thing.

You can also chill the mixture in the fridge for a few days. I bake some from fresh, chill the rest and I’ve also chilled then rolled into cling film and stored some in the freezer.

I’ll report back on how they fare.

Mine were done in 9/10 minutes. You want to take them out when they are fairly ‘dry’ looking, it’s okay if they look a bit ‘wet’ just in the middle. I like to flatten them gently with a fork the moment they are out. Leave on the baking tray for a few moments before sliding the parchment straight onto a cooling rack. I really like these still a bit warm so the chocolate is still melting and liable to make a mess so you have to sit still for a moment whilst you eat them.

 

Pear and spelt tart, with ground almonds and cinnamon

As I write, we are – in England where I live – entering our fifth week of lock down due to coronavirus. Ingredients which we once took for granted are now limited, or unavailable.

I have always run a well-stocked larder, and I have a regular vegetable and fruit box delivery from Riverford a frankly fantastic company. And I get my flour (and you still can) in industrial quantities from Ingredients for Cooks.

I started off wanting something involving banana, peanut butter and oats (tasty but still healthy and not just white flour and sugar) but somehow, ended up making this.

The original recipe is from my Donna Hay (all hail). It’s from her Fresh and Light book, published in 2014 and given to me by my eldest for Christmas that year. I know this because she inscribed the book. I love a book inscription.

I’ve adapted it slightly because I didn’t have the exact flour (flour is a luxury!) and if you don’t have pears you can use other fruits: I think apples would work, or plums. This is a thin tart – as you can see from the pic. And it’s not fluffy and light. But that’s not what I wanted, I wanted something fairly healthy. That’s what I got.

115g flour – I used a mixture of plain wholemeal and spelt

40g ground almonds

One and a half teaspoons of baking powder

80ml of  maple syrup (I actually used 60ml and it was fine)

1 egg

180ml yoghurt or buttermilk

Finely grated rind of a lemon

Half a teaspoon of cinnamon

40g unsalted, melted, butter, slightly cooled

Two pears, peeled, cored, sliced

Two tablespoons of demerara sugar

 

Oven to 190C.

You need a loose bottomed tin of about 24cm, line the bottom with baking parchment.

Mix together the flours, almonds and baking powder in a largish bowl (this is where you’ll end up putting all the mixture). In another bowl mix together the maple syrup, egg, buttermilk/yoghurt, lemon zest and cinnamon. Add the maple/egg mixture to the flour/almond mixture and at this point, add the melted butter. Mix til combined.

Plop the thick mixture into the tin and spread out, you won’t have much, that’s okay. If you haven’t already, peel/slice/core the pears now and arrange in a pleasing fanned out pattern. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake for about 35-40 mins. It should be golden brown and a skewer stabbed into the cakey part should come out clean.

You can serve this warm with cream or ice cream, or cold just as it is. It’s a humble little tart but no less pleasing for that.

 

Hot oven? Cold oven?

Most mornings I preheat my oven to put the day’s bread in. My oven has a handy timer which means I can come down, the oven is up to temperature (I put the baking tray in the night before) and then I can bake the bread. That’s the usual advice isn’t it? Bread goes into a hot oven.

But one day I hadn’t pre-heated the oven and I only had a certain amount of time to put the bread in so I just put the bread onto a cold baking tray, dusted with polenta, into a cold oven, with my regulation one ice cube on a tray underneath. Then I put the oven on to 250C fan and cooked it for 40 mins (as that’s all the time I had available).

The bread needs a bit longer cooking time – probably 50 mins for a decent crust. But guess what? Absolutely no difference. Here’s the loaf I made today which went into a totally cold oven..

 

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