Sara’s no sugar cookies

I’ve always been a bit suspicious of no-sugar biscuits. After all, what’s the point of a biscuit that isn’t delicious? As it turns out, these biscuits are delicious and really easy to make

Ingredients

4 pitted dates
4 soft prunes
1 cup of oats
4 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons olive oil
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 banana – mashed with a fork

Method

Blend the dates and prunes for a few seconds, then add half the oats and blend again.

Put the paste in a bowl and add all the remaining ingredients.

Wrap the mix in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper

Roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thick, cut out the biscuits and bake on the lined tray for 15-18 minutes.
If the banana was especially large, you may find the dough is too soft to cut – in which case just put spoonfuls onto the tray and flatten slightly. Less excitingly shaped – but just as delicious.

Easy White Bread

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
7g sachet of easy yeast
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml water

Method

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add the oil and water and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water then mix well. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead. Once the dough is satin-smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight.

Line a baking tray with parchment, Knock back the dough, then gently mould into a ball. Place it on the parchment to prove for a further hour, until doubled in size again.

Heat the oven to 220c/fan 200c/gas mark 7. Dust the loaf and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife. Bake for 25=30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

Basic Granary Bread

It’s the third day of the summer holidays and it’s baking hot outside, what to do, what to do? Naturally, the thing to do is to turn on the oven, bake bread, and heat the kitchen up even more. With this recipe it’s not as mad as it sounds – sure, the kitchen gets a bit warmer but the children get to have great fun kneading, it’s really easy to find a warm place for the bread to prove (pretty much anywhere will do!) and you end up with amazing granary bread to eat with butter and honey in the sun.

h4>Ingredients

225g strong white flour
AND
225g malted granary flour
OR
450g Norfolk Crunch flour (for a light granary bread)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
7g sachet of easy yeast
150ml warm milk
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp Olive oil
100-150 ml warm water

Method

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl, then stir in the sugar and yeast. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the warm milk, beaten egg olive oil and enough of the water to form a soft, wet dough

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film, then leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. The dough is now ready to be shaped.

To make 12 rolls divide into 12 pieces and shape into rolls. Lightly flour baking sheets. Place rolls on the sheets and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Set aside in a warm place for 30 mins or until they have doubled in size.

If for a loaf leave covered in a loaf tin for an hour or until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas mark 6. Brush bread with beaten egg and sprinkle with seeds if desired.

Bake rolls for 15-20 mins until a deep golden brown

For the loaf heat oven to 190c/fan 170c/gas mark 5 . Brush it with the beaten egg and sprinkle seeds if desired. Bake for 45-50 mins then take out and place on a wire rack to cool.

Beer and Cheese Bread

Ingredients

4 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
450ml/16fl oz brown ale at room temperature
520g/16 ½ oz strong white bread flour plus a little extra for dusting
320g/11oz wholemeal flour
200g/7oz grated cheddar cheese
75g/2 ½ oz grated parmesan
50g/2oz powdered milk
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp mustard powder
2 free range eggs and an extra 1 for the white only for glazing
2 tsp fennel seeds

Method

In a bowl dissolve the sugar and yeast in the brown ale, and set aside for 5/6 minutes.

Mix all the dry ingredients and two of the free-range eggs in another bowl and then add the ale and yeast mixture to it. Mix well with your hands until the mixture forms soft dough.

Using floured hands knead the dough for twenty to twenty five minutes until smooth and elastic. If the mix becomes dry, add a little water. You can use a bread machine but keep checking the dough as it will not take as long to become the right consistency.

Divide the dough into two loaves and place on a baking tray. Mark the tops with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern. Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave in a warm dry draught free place until they have doubled in size.

Pre heat the oven to 200c/400f/Gas Mark 6 and cook for 25/30 minutes or until the bread is cooked through and the crust is golden brown.

Serve with home made soup or as part of a plough-mans lunch.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Ingredients

195g bread flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
170g unsalted butter
150g granulated white sugar
Teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
60ml milk

For the Glaze

3 tablespoons lemon juice
50g white sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 360f/180c and place oven rack in the centre of the oven

Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a loaf tin, then line the bottom of the tin with parchment paper

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds.

In another bowl (or the bowl of your electric mixer) beat the butter until soft, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy

Add the eggs one at a time beating well after adding each.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed

Beat in vanilla extract

With the mixer on low add the flour mixture in 3 lots and then the milk.

Do this alternately starting and ending with the flour

Mix until well combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared tin smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 50 -60 minutes or until bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean

While the bread is cooking make the glaze combine the sugar with the lemon juice and heat until the sugar is dissolved.

When bread is done remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Immediately brush the top of the bread with the hot glaze

Cool loaf in the tin for about 30 minutes and let cool on the rack

This bread is best stored over night to allow the glaze to be absorbed into the bread.

Spelt Bread

Ingredients

500g spelt flour white or brown to your taste
½ tsp salt
1 tsp quick yeast
1 tsp sugar
300ml warm water
1 tbl Veg Oil

Method

1. Preheat Oven to 220c/fan/200f/gas 7
2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, quick yeast and sugar
3. Carefully measure the water and thoroughly mix it into the flour
4. While the dough is still claggy add the oil and knead well until it feels smooth and pliable
5. Leave the dough in a bowl covered with a cloth in a draught free place, to double in size (about an hour) To make a quick bread omit this stage and proceed straight to step 6
6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough firmly for several minutes
7. Shape the dough and put it into an oiled 1kg/2ib bread tin.
8. Cover and leave dough to rise for about 25 minutes in a warm place.
9. Bake in a preheated oven for 35/40 minutes.

Hazelnut Fudge Brownies

Half Term week and a quiet Monday morning as families can take their time getting ready for the day rather than that mad  plunge into the school time rush.

I wonder with all the choices that children have now, from computer games to clubs wither the fun of making “poisonous pastry” has gone in the bin? I can remember the joy of the process, the feeling that you were helping Mum, the pleasure of making an animal or “doll” and colouring them in. It could make a rainy morning into a treat that lasted at least until dinner time, when you realized that you couldn’t eat them!

I also enjoyed making gingerbread and rock cakes which Dad would manfully chew on after supper.

So lets find a recipe that will be a pleasure for everyone to enjoy.

Ingredients

75g chocolate broken into pieces
125g unsalted butter chopped
250g caster sugar
2 eggs forked to blend
100g self-raising flour
100g shelled roasted Hazelnuts

Method

Preheat oven to 190/375/Gas Mark 5

Line and grease a 20cm baking tin

In a large bowl melt the chocolate and butter together over a pan of simmering water or pop into microwave.

Blend thoroughly and allow to cool

Then beat in the sugar, eggs, flour and nuts in that order

The mixture should be runny and smooth

Spoon into tin making sure its in the corners. Bake for 25 minutes checking after 20 and cover with foil if it looks like burning

Remove from oven and cut into squares while still hot

Enjoy! If someone in your family suffers from a nut allergy replace hazels with a dried fruit or just leave out of recipe.

Tea Time Treats

On a cold and blustery winter’s day, what could be nicer than spending some time in a warm kitchen making cookies for tea. The basic biscuit mix is delicious on its own – like shortbread but with the chewy bite of almonds, and it works as a great base for other flavours too. The Earl Grey and Lemon flavour is a perfect pick-me-up with a cup of tea and the cardamom and pepper is unusual and very warming. We’ll definitely be trying some other combinations!

Ingredients

Basic Biscuit

85g shelled almonds
100g unsalted butter – softened
100g golden caster sugar
1 egg – separated
125g plain flour

Earl Grey and Lemon Flavouring

1 Tbs Earl Grey Tea – ground fine in a pestle and mortar
Zest of 1 lemon.

Cardamom and Pepper Flavouring

It may sound a strange combination but this is my neighbours favourite flavouring.
12 cardamom pods (seeds only)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Method

Roughly crush the almonds, skin included

Beat the butter and caster sugar till fluffy and pale, then beat in the egg yolk.

Add the flour, crushed nuts, and flavourings of your choice and beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until it forms a soft dough, you might need to add a couple of spoon fulls of water.

Roll the dough into a fat sausage; wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 180c/160C fan/350f

With a sharp chilled knife cut the dough into a dozen disks and transfer to a baking sheet. Leave enough space for the disks to spread.

Brush the disks with the egg white

Bake for approx 15 minutes till golden and crisp.

Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Better is a Dinner of Herbs

Dried herbs have been part of medicine and cooking for thousands of years, and their uses are as legion as their variety.

In cooking it is always better to use fresh when they are available,  a pot or trough outside the kitchen door of your favorites is best, cutting the herbs for use just increases their vigor. But dried herbs are stronger and you only need half the amount of fresh you would use in a dish. They are best kept in air tight containers in a cool part of the kitchen and out of direct sunlight. Broad Bean stock a gunmetal grey herb container with a clear top and a large slot and a shaker slot on the lid for ease of use.

Mint is one of the carminative herbs and aids the digestion of fatty foods such as pork. I love the colour of our Apple and Mint Jelly, a pale pink flecked with green. The round leave mint and spearmint are the most used for culinary  purposes, while peppermint is a wonderfully refreshing tea hot or cold.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint Tea

Mint can be used to flavor peas, potatoes, spinach, carrots, cabbage or cucumber and is great sprinkled into a salad.

How about this simple old country recipe for Mint Pasties?

Pastry
8oz self-raising flour
4oz fat
pinch of salt

Filling
2tbsp chopped mint
2tbsp currants
2tbsp soft brown sugar

Heat Oven to 400f?200c/Gas Mark 6. Rub fat into flour and salt until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix to a dough with a little water. Divide into pieces and roll out into circles about 6″ across. Mix the mint, sugar and currants together and divide between the circles. Fold the circles in half joining the edges and flatten slightly and brush the tops with milk. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
than a stalled Ox and hatred therewith.”

 

 

 

 

 

Bread of Heaven

Holidays are disruptive things. They are named after the old “holy days” of medieval England, when saints were venerated and on which everyone celebrated. Easter of cause as always been a movable feast, governed by the phases of the moon.

Having time away from the shop can be productive, making you take a step back and seeing a bigger picture. We have put in a new window display celebrating all the different flours we have to offer and as always this has been a popular choice. So many of us are beginning to value simple food made freshly and at home, rather than the mass production on offer in our supermarkets. Bread in particular is something that people are keen to try out. There is something almost magical in the process of proving, rising and baking, so many good aromas from the yeast to the finished product.

A home is enhanced by the smell of fresh bread, estate agents seem to think it even helps you to sell your property, and what could be nicer than home made soup, a local cheese and the bread of your choice. From a golden granary, to a dark rye, from gluten free to coconut flour we have a flour to suit all tastes. My favorite is the local Talgarth mill stone ground flour, grown in Hertfordshire, my “home” county and milled at the foot of the Black Mountains. Come in for a chat and choose the right flour for your recipe.