Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Apple and Hazelnut Spelt Rye Sourdough Bread Loaf

Apple Hazelnut Spelt Rye Sourdough Bread

Autumn, Bread & Buns, Vegan | 7th October 2016 | By

As you may have gathered by now, I do like to cook and bake with the seasons. When I made my latest Suma order I had some autumnal baking very much in mind. I still have apples from my mother’s garden and although the wildlife got all of our cobnuts this year, hazelnuts are very much on my radar. So, I made an apple and hazelnut spelt rye sourdough bread loaf.

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Almond and Cardamom Rye Shortbread with Whisky Raspberry Cream

Last week, CT and I were somewhat shocked to find we’d been together for twenty years. How did that happen? To celebrate we both took the day off and went clambering around the Cornish coast. We also called in at the Canteen at Maker Heights. How could we resist the best food in those parts? There, sitting on the counter was a round of almond rye shortbread. Completely intrigued, I had to recreate it.

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Henk’s Chocolate Nut Cakes

Small Cakes | 27th November 2015 | By

My friend Henk, over in The Netherlands is a keen baker. Like me, he’s interested in trying out different flours, particularly in cakes. Recently he sent me a recipe for his favourite chocolate nut muffins. They have undergone many iterations, I should add and more will follow as just like me, Henk is an inveterate ‘tinkerer’ of recipes.

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Malted Wholemeal and Rye Loaf

Malted Wholemeal Rye Bread

Bread & Buns | 16th August 2015 | By

Making your own bread can be infinitely satisfying and I have been doing it since I was a teenager. I’ve not been hugely creative and tend to stick to a tried and tested recipe and until I got my KitchenAid earlier this year, I’d never used a machine before. Time to do something different.

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Spelt, Rye and Berry Cookies and a Cocoa Comparison

Biscuits, Chocolate Reviews | 28th January 2013 | By

Biscuit recipes are my new obsession, especially easy biscuit recipes. I’ve always liked biscuits of course, but when it comes to baking, cake has always taken precedence over biscuits and cookies. I suspect being given Biscuit by Miranda Gore Browne as a birthday present last year has something to do with it. A whole book dedicated to biscuits puts a different spin on things. It stayed at the top of my pile of bedside reading for a long time. Despite this, I’ve only made one recipe from the book: blackcurrant and white chocolate biscuits – until now that is. We were off to spend the afternoon with friends and biscuits being quick and portable were an ideal bake to take along. To fit in with my supposed Healthy January, I went to Miranda’s Almost Healthy Biscuits section of the book for inspiration. I got no further than the very first recipe, Super Berry Heroes – excellent, some healthy goji berries and blueberries to give a much needed nutrient boost would be my berries of choice. Not only did these contain an interesting flour mix of spelt and rye, but also included cocoa.

I was recently sent a jolly red pot of Food Thoughts fairtrade, organic cocoa powder to try out and I was very keen to do so. Green & Black’s being fairtrade and organic is my go to cocoa, but it’s always nice to have some choice. As soon as I saw the organic status was certified by the Soil Association, I felt reassured as they and Demeter are the only certifying bodies I really trust. Fairtrade is really the only way to go – cocoa is a luxury and the people that grow it should be properly recompensed for their efforts. This cocoa comes from the Dominican Republic.

I thought it would be fun to do a taste test with the three cocoas I happened to have in the house: Food Thoughts, Green & Blacks and Bournville. As well as the obvious colour differences, they were all quite distinctive in taste. Bournville is a very pale powder with a sweetish taste, but is rather insipid and lacks character. Green & Black’s is very dark, robust and bitter. Food Thoughts is midway between the other two in terms of colour but has a richer chocolate taste than either. However, in terms of packaging, Bournville gets the brownie points. The Bournville pot is about 3/4 of the size of the Food Thoughts one and yet they both contain 125g – when waste is such a big issue for us, over packaging is unnecessary and undesirable.

We are a household of regular cocoa drinkers, but make it with no sugar, mostly water and just a dash of milk. I was interested to compare this with our usual Green & Blacks.  In addition to the colour difference, we immediately noticed it had a more refined taste. It was smoother and less bitter and we really liked it.

This is how I made

Blueberry, Goji Berry, Spelt & Rye Cookies

  • Creamed 120g salted butter with 100g vanilla (golden caster) sugar and 85g muscovado sugar until soft and pale.
  • Beat in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and one duck egg.
  • Sieved in 60g wholemeal spelt flour and 80g rye flour, together with 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp cocoa powder (Food Thoughts).
  • Added 85g rolled oats.
  • Grated in 1/8 tsp nutmeg and mixed together.
  • Stirred in 40g goji berries and 50g dried wild blueberries.
  • Rolled teaspoonfuls of mixture between my hands to make about 30 walnut sized balls.
  • Placed well apart on lined baking trays and baked at 180C for 13 minutes.
  • Left to cool for a couple of minutes, then transferred to a wire rack to cool completely.
In CT’s expert opinion, these biscuits were “rather good”. Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with lots of texture. The cocoa added to the general flavour without being obviously chocolatey, which was absolutely fine. The spicy nutmeg flavour permeates the whole biscuit in a rather delightful way. Although there was no ginger present, they reminded us both of gingerbread in its best form.

Food Thoughts Cocoa is available at Sainsbury’s and retails at £2.20

Cinnamon & Honey Christmas Stars – We Should Cocoa #28

Biscuits, Gifts, We Should Cocoa | 14th December 2012 | By

To get us all in the festive spirit, assuming we needed encouragement of course, I chose cinnamon for this month’s We Should Cocoa. I had a few ideas for this, but in the end I went for these Spicy Stars, adapted from the brilliant Polish Spice Biscuits that I made last year. This is a family recipe from Ren of Fabulicious Food and combines some wonderful ingredients which produce absolutely fabulicious biscuits. They are really quite different from the normal festive gingerbread type of fare as these use rye flour, honey and most importantly cocoa.

One of the sub groups of the Liskeard Portas Pilot (of which I’m a member) organised a Vintage Christmas Market, held last weekend. It was a great success, with many dressed in vintage clothing, fabulous stalls, live music, a cafe and a great turn out. I had the pleasure of being the acting stall-holder for The Gingham Chicken, a fine producer of delicious Liskeard Cornish fudge. It seemed like a good opportunity to make and sell a few festive treats myself. These stars were one of them.

This is how I made them:

  • Melted 110g unsalted butter in a small pan with 110g soft brown sugar and 8 tbsp runny honey.
  • 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 cinnamon and 1/4 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 81 stars by re-rolling the leftover bits several times.
  • Placed them on lined baking trays about a cm apart and baked the for 8 minutes at 180C.
  • Made 8 packs of ten biscuits and tied with ribbon and a name tag.

The biscuits turned out just as I hoped. They looked pretty, had a perfect texture and tasted of cinnamon and honey. They brought an added bonus too: the whole house smelt of sweet spicy cinnamon for days – who needs air freshener?

The biscuits could of course be iced, dipped in chocolate or decorated in any number of ways, but I think they are pretty much perfect just as they are. They could easily be used as Christmas tree decorations by poking a hole through one of the arms with a skewer before baking.

This is my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa.

As my alternative name for these biscuits is Spicy Stars, I’m also submitting them to Alpha Bakes where the letter is S this month. This challenge is jointly hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.

These are, of course, made from scratch so they are also being sent to Javelin Warrior for his weekly Made with love Mondays.

Blackcurrant and Rose Nonnettes

The letter for this month’s Alpha Bakes is N. Apart from nuts, I could think of nothing else other than Nonnettes and as I haven’t made any of these wonderful eggless French honey cakes for a while, this seemed like a good opportunity. I decided I’d adapt and use half the amount of the original Nonnette recipe to make 12 smaller cakes using my new muffin cases. A half eaten jar of my mother’s delicious blackcurrant jam was sitting in the cupboard and I still had a bit of rose syrup that really needed using up. Blackcurrant and rose proved to be a nice combination as evinced by the blackcurrant, rose and white chocolate ice-cream I made in the summer.

Here’s what I did:

  • Melted 40g unsalted butter in a pan.
  • Added 100g local Cornish honey and 50g light brown sugar.
  • Turned off the heat and added 50g milk and 50g rose syrup.
  • Stirred until smooth then left to cool.
  • Sifted 100g plain white flour, 50g rye flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda into a bowl.
  • Added the grated zest from 1/2 a small orange.
  • Stirred in 25g chopped white chocolate.
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in the honey mixture.
  • Stirred until just combined.
  • Divided the mixture between 12 silicone muffin cases and left in my cold kitchen for half an hour.
  • Placed a small teaspoonful of blackcurrant jam on the top of each one.
  • Baked at 180C for 16 minutes.
  • Left to cool
  • Mixed 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar with about a tbsp of rose syrup to form a slightly runny icing.
  • Drizzled these over the cakes whilst they were still slightly warm.

These were as good as I imagined they would be, that is to say, thoroughly delicious. They were sweet, sticky and flavoursome with a lovely smooth texture. The blackcurrant was a good strong flavour and its tartness helped to counteract the overall sweetness. CT was surprised by the little bits of white chocolate, but enjoyed them. Licking fingers is an occupational hazard with these, although CT didn’t seem to be unduly bothered.

I am entering these into Alpha Bakes with Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes as N for Nonnettes.

As October is such a great time to preserve Autumn’s bounty, Kate of What Kate Baked has cleverly chosen preserves for this month’s Tea Time Treats. TTT is co-hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.

Chris over at Cooking Around the World has started a new challenge Bloggers Around the World. Sadly I didn’t manage to join in last month with Germany as the selected country. This month, it’s France so I’m submitting these Nonnettes.

As these honey cakes are eggless, I am also submitting them to Cook Eat Delicious Desserts where the theme this month is honey. It is being hosted this month by Nivedhanam.

Rhubarb & Rose Honey Cakes – Nonnettes

When I found that rhubarb had been picked for the One Ingredient blogging event in April, I so wanted to take part. But our rhubarb was ailing and I just can’t bring myself to buy something that we used to produce in prodigious quantities on our old allotment plot. The other day, however, my mother, called in with stack of rhubarb from her garden – plants we had luckily given her from our old plot. Hooray, the one ingredient challenge might be over, but I could bake with rhubarb. Since I saw the rose and rhubarb combination over at Laura of How to Cook Good Food, I’ve been itching to try it. My only dilemma was in what form? Actually, the dilemma was easily solved;  my one remaining duck egg supplier was attending a wedding this week and I had run out of eggs. An egg free bake was needed. Bingo! Nonnettes it had to be – not exactly a hardship in my experience! Since first trying Nonnettes back in December, I have become enraptured with these very tasty honey cakes. What with Friands as well as the Madeleines I have yet to bake, the French are little cake bakers par excellence.

I was quite excited at coming up with a Nonnette nouvelle. The combination of rose and roasted rhubarb jam has probably never been used before. This in conjunction with some delicious Cornish honey, ought to be irresistible, I thought. As we still had quite a bit of cake in the house from my recent Clandestine Cake Club event, I used half the normal quantities to make six rather than twelve individual cakes.

This is what I did:

  • Chopped up 4 sticks (about 300g) of washed & trimmed rhubarb into 1 cm lengths.
  • Placed these in a greased Pyrex dish and sprinkled a teaspoon of rose water over the top.
  • Spooned 50g cardamom sugar (caster sugar) over the rhubarb.
  • Roasted at 200C for 30 minutes.
  • Left to cool, then spooned into a jar.
  • Melted 40g unsalted butter in a pan.
  • Added 100g local Cornish runny honey and 50g light brown sugar.
  • Turned off the heat and added 50g milk, 40g water and 10g of rhubarb liqueur (homemade) with a tsp of rose water.
  • Stirred until smooth then left to cool.
  • Ground the seeds from two cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar.
  • Sifted 100g plain white flour, 50g rye flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda into a bowl.
  • Added the cardamom and the grated zest from 1/2 a small orange.
  • Stirred in 25g chopped white chocolate.
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in the honey mixture.
  • Stirred until all combined.
  • Divided the mixture between 6 buttered muffin moulds and placed in the fridge for an hour.
  • Placed a spoonful of rhubarb jam on the top of each one.
  • Baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
  • Left to cool
  • Mixed 1 tbsp icing sugar with a little rhubarb liqueur (homemade) and a drop of rose water to form a slightly runny icing.
  • Drizzled these over the cakes whilst they were still warm.

These turned out even better than I could have wished. After the first bite, I was very much regretting making six rather than twelve. They were absolutely scrummy and as CT stated later, tasted French – I think this was a compliment. They had a lovely soft texture which I attribute to the presence of rye flour. The rose made its presence felt but was not in the least overpowering and contrasted well with the distinctive tartness of the rhubarb. The roasted rhubarb jam was a delight in itself and has adorned various slices of toast all this week.

When making these Nonnettes, I had not one, not two, not three, but four blog challenges in mind:

Simple and in Season – a monthly challenge to get us to cook uncomplicated food using seasonal ingredients by Ren of Fabulicious Food. This month it is being guest hosted by Urvashi of The Botanical Baker.

Alpha BakesCaroline Makes and Ros of The more than occasional baker take it in turns to pick a random letter from the alphabet which inspires the theme of the bake. This month Caroline picked H and my H is for Honey Cakes.

Tea Time Treats – the fabulously sugar overloaded monthly tea time party run alternately by Karen of Lavender and Lovage and Kate of What Kate Baked. The theme this month is floral. Rose is my flower of choice, because I love roses as mentioned in previous posts and one of the reasons why I chose Rose as one of the We Should Cocoa challenges.

Made with Love Mondays – Javelin Warrior’s weekly challenge to get everyone making dishes from scratch from Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w / Luv.

White Chocolate Nonnettes and Orange & Poppy Seed Friands

Having seen Phil’s We Should Cocoa entry in the Orange challenge from As Stong As Soup in December, I couldn’t resist making these for my mother’s birthday. Nonnettes, it seems, are little known outside of France. I searched on google for more information and alternative recipes, but Phil’s was the only one I could find in English (I gave up after page 6). The name means “little nuns” and they are a speciality of Dijon in France. They are little spiced honey cakes made with marmalade and rye flour and unusually, no eggs.

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