One of the few things I miss as a vegetarian is a good lardy cake. Our local bakery BlakesBakery does a particularly good one. Rich with fat, sugar and spicy fruit, it has a crunchy exterior with a lovely doughy interior. When I found out the #TeaTimeTreats theme was for yeast bakery this month, an idea was conceived. I would invent my very own non-lardy, lardy cake using white chocolate instead of lard, my own candied peel and very non traditionally, apples.
For my christmas hampers I was looking to make some sort of spiced biscuits that I could cut into stars and possibly decorate. There were several contenders, but I eventually plumped for Polish Spiced Cookies otherwise known as Pierniczki taken from Ren’s aptly named blog Fabulicious Food. These cookies made their way to Vanessa’s Lets Make Christmas event at Fortnum and Mason’s and were most beautifully decorated. I particularly liked this recipe as it used cocoa powder and lots of honey which sounded just right for ChocLogBlog Christmas biscuits. Ren also suggested using rye flour. Although I’m very familiar with rye flour in sourdough bread, I had never used it in sweet baked goods until I recently made Dan Lepard’s rye apple cake. I was completely won over by the wonderful texture this grain gives and was keen to try it again.
- Melted 110g unsalted butter in a small pan with 110g soft brown sugar and 8 tbsp honey (Beech Forest HoneyDew).
- Stirred until combined, then left to cool a little.
- Sieved 225g rye flour and 225g white flour into a bowl with 2 tsp baking powder 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 heaped tsp homemade mixed spice, 1 heaped tsp cinnamon, 1 heaped tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the butter mixture then broke in a large egg.
- Stirred the mixture together starting from the middle until all incorporated.
- Brought it all together with my hands to form a ball.
- Cut this in two then rolled out (one at a time) to the thickness of about 1/4 cm.
- Cut out about 80 stars and hearts by re-rolling the leftover bits several times.
- Placed them on lined baking trays about a cm apart and baked the first batch for 8 minutes at 200C.
- Sadly, these burnt, so I reduced the temperature to 180C and baked the rest for 7 minutes only.
Each year I vow to make mincemeat and each year I fail. But this year, I’ve bucked the trend – hooray. CT is not a fan of mince pies and I can take them or leave them, but home-made mincemeat is a different food game altogether – or at least that’s what I’m hoping. I based my mix on the one in British Baking by Peyton and Byrne, but used rum instead of brandy and the home-made mixed spice I concocted after reading Karen’s post about it on Lavender and Lovage. I also, added, errrr, chocolate! I made it a couple of weeks ago but am letting it brew for a while. As it has lots of apple in the recipe, I thought I’d sneak it into this month’s apple themed We Should Cocoa.
These are the ingredients I mixed together in a large bowl which I covered and left over night before giving a good stir and spooning into sterilised jars:
- 225g Cornish cooking apples (variety unidentified) – finely chopped
- 110g vegetarian suet (rather wished I’d used butter in retrospect)
- 175g raisins
- 110g sultanas
- 110g currants
- 50g mixed peel
- 100g dark chocolate (70%) – chopped
- 175g dark brown sugar
- grated zest and juice of an organic orange (unwaxed)
- grated zest and juice of an organic lemon (unwaxed)
- 25g flaked almonds
- 3 tsp mixed spice (home-made)
- 3 tbsp rum
This should keep for a year in a cool dark place, but I have plans for this mincemeat and I’m really looking forward to trying it. Assuming it makes the grade, a couple of the jars might make it into this year’s Christmas hampers.