Tag Archives: spelt

Romantic Seed Crackers

OK, so more hearts! Why? Because…love is crackers? But worth it? And love is a good base for other things, just like a good cracker?

Fine, fine, I’ll stop trying to use bad humour to justify another heart-shaped post. Truth be told, I was really just looking for another excuse to use the rather splendid copper biscuit cutter that I was given as a present back in November, and it does seem such a shame to use it only at Christmas. And so I’ve made my seed crackers, but this time with a bit of a romantic twist.

heartcrackers2

Of course this is not a new recipe – I first posted this about five years ago (five years ago!), but I think it is worth featuring again as it really is great. These are really double seed crackers – the simple dough (wholemeal and buckwheat flour, plus salt, oil and a dash of honey) is livened up with ground seeds, and then there are more on top for crunch and to give them some visual appeal. You could use whatever you like and/or have to hand, but I’ve used pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds.

If you make these, be prepared for “the alarming bit”. The poppy seeds and buckwheat flour make the dough a rather unappealing grey colour, but when they bake, the crackers take on this gorgeous conker-brown colour, making a handsome addition to a cheeseboard or any selection of dips.

heartcrackers1

If you’re feeling creative and really want to work a heart theme, you can also cut out toppings using your cutters – slices of cheese, pieces of vegetable or whatever else you want. Otherwise, just throw them in a bowl, and use them to scoop up obscene amounts of hummus!

heartcrackers3

For around 50 crackers (depends on size):

• 40g sesame seeds
• 30g pumpkin seeds
• 20g sunflower seeds
• 10g poppy seeds
• 120g wholewheat flour (spelt flour works too)
• 40g buckwheat flour
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• water, to bind
• egg white, to glaze
• seeds, to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

2. Mix all the seeds together, and blitz in a grinder until you have a fine powder. Don’t go too far, or they will become oily. The poppy seeds might stay whole, which is fine.

3. In a bowl, combine the ground seeds, flours, salt, honey and oil. Mix well.

4. Add enough water to make a dough (around 75-100ml, but it will vary depending on your flour). It should be smooth, but not sticky. Add more flour if needed.

5. Roll out the dough as thin as you can on a floured surface. Cut out the crackers (either use a cutter or cut with a knife or pizza cutter).

6. Brush each cracker with a little beaten egg white, and sprinkle over some seeds.

7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crackers become brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. If you’re doing lots of different shapes and sizes, bake in batches of the same size to ensure they don’t burn.

Worth making? These are excellent! Quick to make, with delicious results.

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury

Bonfire Night Flapjacks

If you’re planning to go to a Bonfire Night celebration, then chances are you’ll be looking for something to munch on as you’re looking skywards to take in the fireworks.

With this in mind, I’ve played around with my go-to flapjack recipe to make it a bit more seasonal. In addition to the usual butter, sugar and oats, I’ve also added some spices as well as a rather random selection of things from the store cupboard – pumpkin and sunflower seeds, apricots, dates, sultanas, hazelnuts and spelt flakes. The result is sticky, delicious and has a very autumnal flavour. It also takes about ten minutes to make, so it is incredibly easy to whip up in a hurry. Just to make the point, I’ve got the recipe below – and you’ll see that all the “extras” are measured either by the teaspoon or by the handful.

bonfire_flapjack

If you’re keen to have a go yourself, you really don’t need much more than sugar, butter and rolled oats. Otherwise, just add whatever you want (or more realistically – whatever you have in the cupboard). Dried fruits work very well, as do nuts and seeds. The one unusual thin on the list is spelt flakes – I love using these in flapjacks as they stay very crisp and add some interesting texture. It’s actually taken me a while to track them down – I used to be able to buy then in a shop in Stoke Newington, but have not found them in Clapham. Lucky for me I stumbled upon a new Wholefoods store near Piccadilly Circus, so I’ve now got easy access to all manner of weird and wonderful ingredients. Result!

So there you have it – a quick and fairly healthy idea for Bonfire Night, or just to enjoy during a quiet moment with a cup of tea.

To make Bonfire Night Flapjacks (makes 16):

• 175g butter
• 175g soft brown sugar
• 40g (2 tbsp) golden syrup
• pinch of salt
• 200g rolled oats
• 45g (3 handfuls) sultanas
• 35g (3 teaspoons) candied ginger
• 20g (2 handfuls) pumpkin seeds
• 15g (1 handful) sunflower seeds
• 20g (2 handfuls) spelt flakes
• 40g (1 handful) apricots, chopped
• 25g (1 handful) hazelnuts, chopped
• 25g (1 handful) dates, chopped
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a 20cm (8 inch) square baking tray or cake tin with non-stick paper.

2. Put the butter, sugar, syrup and salt (if using) in a pan. Heat gently until the butter is melted, and then boil for one minute. Add the candied ginger and mix well.

3. In a large bowl, mix all the other ingredients. Add the butter/sugar mixture and stir well. Put into a tray, spread the mixture evenly, press down and bake for 20 minutes. It should have a rich brown colour when done.

4. Once the mega-flapjack is cooked, let it cool completely, then turn onto a chopping board and cut into pieces.

Worth making? Absolutely! This reicpe is incredbily easy to make, tastes delicious, and can be

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Filed under Recipe, Sweet Things

A very wholemeal Spelt Loaf

After last weekend, I unexpectedly found myself with a bag of wholemeal spelt flour and a large bowl of spelt bran. What, oh what, to do with it?

In all honest, after all the chocolate and sweet, spicy, fruity buns of Easter, this week has left me in the mood for savoury flavours. Cheese, vegetables, nuts. So I went back to make about the simplest thing that I could – a basic wholemeal spelt loaf. No flash, not pizzazz, no super-secret ingredients – just spelt, water, flour, salt, oil and a spoon of brown sugar. Oh – and that bowl of bran.

With all that extra fibre, I am in no doubt that this must have been one of the healthiest things I have made in a while.

Once I had made the dough, that well-known characteristic of spelt flour became apparent – the dough “got going” very quickly and rose easily. I decided to make plain oval loaf, and while it started to puff upwards, it then had a change of heart and started spreading out a little and then went for a more “flattened” look. I was initially a little disappointed, but as it turned out, this was actually a perfect shape for making long Scandinavian-style sandwiches. The texture is somewhat denser than with wheat flour – I’m putting this down in part to the qualities of spelt flour, but also to my very liberal addition of extra bran. Well, it certainly made for a tasty, nutty loaf, and good for sandwiches. So on balance, I’m happy with how this one turned out.

Now, for all my proclamations that I’ve been craving savoury (and I’ve been enjoying this as part of cheese sandwiches or with bowls of lentil soup), it is spectacularly delicious with a little butter and some honey on it. For me, brown bread and honey is one of the classic flavour combinations, and it’s such a nice start to the day – wholesome goodness and a little sunshine to get you going before heading outside.

To make a spelt loaf:

• 500g wholemeal spelt flour
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoons salt
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons dried yeast (not instant)
• 275ml warm water

Mix the yeast, warm water and sugar and allow to sit for 15 minutes until frothy.

Now – I confess, I am lazy – and I just throw everything into a bread machine and run the rye dough cycle.

If you’re doing this by hand: combine the flour, oil and salt in a bowl. Rub together with your fingers. Add the yeast mixture and work with your hands until it comes together to a dough. Knead for five minutes, then in a bowl in a warm place (covered) until the dough is roughly doubled in size.

Once the dough is ready, shape into rolls or a loaf, then leave to rise until roughly doubled in size (cover loosely with lightly oiled cling film). In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Just before baking, brush or spray the loaf with water to ensure a crisper crust.

Bake for around 30 minutes for a loaf or 10-12 minutes for rolls until the crust is lightly golden. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.

Worth making? I love this loaf – it has a lot of flavour and slices well. It also seems to last well, so spelt flour seemed to be a good choice for a loaf that keeps for several days.

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury

Festive Chocolate Clusters

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love made for me… festive chocolate clusters! Try singing it – it sort of works. Just.

This is just about as simple as baking can get, Pop Tarts excluded. I was attending a friend’s Christmas drinks at the weekend, and had promised to take something. As I have my own drinks event next week, I was a little but protective of my cookies, so I thought about making a little chocolate treat which is packed with all sorts of festive goodies in it. Think a grown-up version of the rice crispie cake.

This was the same crowd that had been wowed by my chocolate tiffin several weeks previously, so it was not a major leap to change from a tray (non-)bake to mini-clusters of seasonal cheer. But I needed a recipe, as I had to get the combination of dry stuff-nuts-fruit-chocolate right. I could wing it, but I did a little research, and saw Chocolate & Zucchini recommended two cups of other ingredients to 250g of melted chocolate. Armed with this rule of thumb, I went forth and immediately started to play around with it. Live dangerously…

Now…drum roll…while I usually work by weight, this time I went with cups. One cup of “dry” stuff, one-and-a-half cups of dried fruit and nuts (I couldn’t resist adding a but more), and then 250g of chocolate. Simple!

For the “dry” stuff, I used spelt flakes. These have a nice nutty flavour and stay super-crisp even when you’ve added them to something, so that adds a welcome bit of texture. I bulked this out with speculoos biscuits I had in the cupboard. If you don’t know these, they are crisp biscuits that you find all over Belgium and the Netherlands. They have a spicy, gingerbread flavour and because they are made with dark sugar, have a caramel-like flavour and sharp snap. Be on the lookout next time you’re in Rotterdam or Antwerp! So I took my treasured speculoos, smashed up a few and threw them in. This would add some festive spiciness, but provide a bit of variety from the usual cinnamon.

For the “fruit and nuts”, I raided the cupboard and went for broke. Whatever I could find. Toasted flaked almonds, chopped glacé cherries, chopped apricots and juicy sultanas. This provided a few different textures, flavours and colours to brighten up my clusters.

All of these tasty good things were going to be lovingly enrobed in melted dark chocolate, and then lovingly spooned into little mini-cupcake cases. The chocolate was also lovingly mixed with a large pinch of finely ground sea salt to enhance the flavour, and a tablespoon of good old British golden syrup, to provide a little rich sweetness, and the make the chocolate a little softer in the finished clusters. I wanted them to set, but not to be rock hard.

Once I had prepared the mixture, I had grand plans to be über-efficient, and put the mixture into a piping bag to fill my cases, but the mixture was clearly setting too quickly on what was one of the coldest nights of the year. So back to basics, just me and a couple of teaspoons. And as you can see, the results are actually pleasingly irregular. Sometimes a sultana perched on top, sometimes flaked almonds peeking out side.

These clusters are delicious. Rich, crisp, juicy and nutty by turns, and – dare I say it – a complete success. They are also endlessly customisable, so just throw in whatever you want, although I am rather taken with flaked almonds and apricots.

For 30 chocolate clusters:

• 1 cup dry ingredients (*)
• 1 1/2 cups nuts and dried fruit, pressed down (**)
• 250g dark chocolate
• Large pinch sea salt, finely ground
• Tablespoon golden syrup (optional)

Place the chocolate, salt and syrup (if using) in a double boiler and allow the chocolate to melt. Stir well.

In the meantime, combine the dry ingredients and the nuts/fruit in a bowl. Combine well, ideally using your hands to break up sticky bits of fruit.

Pour over the melted chocolate, and mix until combined. Use teaspoons to transfer the mixture into mini-muffin cases. Sprinkle with any toppings (tiny flakes of salt, gold leaf, chopped pistachio…or leave au natural) and allow to cool.

Best served at room temperature so that the chocolate is softer and the flavours more intense.

(*) I used 1/3 cup (20g) spelt flakes and 2/3 cup (60g) crushed speculoos biscuits.

(**) I used 35g sultanas, 45g glacé cherries, 45g toasted flaked almonds and 80g dried apricots. And I mean pressed down in the measuring cup, to get the most fruit you can fit into these little treats!

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Filed under Christmas, Recipe, Sweet Things

Flapjacks

A quick post for a quick recipe. Still cold in London town (just less cold than last week) so I’ve been mixing up batches of flapjacks at the weekends. To keep things interesting, my most recent attempt benefited from the addition of a couple of handfuls of spelt flakes, some juicy sultanas and chopped apricots, and I replaced the plain old white sugar with muscovado. Great with a cuppa when you come in from the chill!

HOW TO MAKE IT

• 175g butter
• 175g sugar (any sort)
• 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
• pinch of salt
• 250g oats
• sultanas, seeds, nuts or dried fruit (optional)

Put the oven on at 190°C, and grease a 20cm baking tray or cake tin (ideally non-stick). Put the butter, sugar, syrup and salt (if using) in a pan. Heat gently until the butter is melted, and then boil for one minute. Add the oats (plus any “extras”) and stir well, then put into a tray, spread the mixture evenly, and bake for 20 minutes.

Once the mega-flapjack is cooked, let it cool completely, then turn onto a chopping board and cut into pieces.

WOULD I MAKE IT AGAIN?

Yes – in fact, I’ve made these twice again since I took the photographs. The spelt flakes were a great addition as they stay quite crisp and a some extra texture to the otherwise soft and chewy flapjack, and the muscovado added more depth of flavour. Now my creativity can run riot and I’ll see what nuts, dried fruit and seeds that I can find lurking at the back of the cupboard for next time…

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