In August of 2011 I decided to bake my way through a cookbook. To be precise, bake my way through A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. Yes, I know that’s almost 2 years ago and I am probably not even half way though the book.
Be sure to also try my delicious Italian Peach Cookies that everybody in my family adores!
I bought this book probably 3 years ago and it has now gone out of print which is a shame. What attracted me to this cookbook was the diversity of recipes from all around the world. Recipes from American immigrants who have richly seasoned the country’s palate. As an Australian I can appreciate the benefits the introduction of various cuisines have had to our culture. The melding of cultures through food is what helps breaks down barriers between people.
So here I am still getting through this cookbook. I will achieve my aim but I think it will take longer than first anticipated. Have you ever baked through a whole cookbook? It’s a bigger feat than what one thinks. No wonder Julie Powell gained fame as she cooked her way through Julie Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. If you read her blog she was cooking as many as 14 recipes in the one week! This is my 34th recipe in two years! Feeling a bit defeated. Maybe I should aim for one recipe per week. What do you think? How should I tackle this? I need tips!
Makes 30 yummy cookies
2 cups all purpose flour, plus 1 to 1 ¼ cups for kneading
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
⅓ cup sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
⅓ cup brandy
1 cup fine semolina
1 ⅓ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ cup walnuts, finely chopped
¾ cup honey
¾ cup sugar
1 ¼ cup water
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
Make the dough.Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the olive oil and sugar. Whisk in the orange juice, zest and brandy. Gradually add the flour mixture. Then switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the semolina, spices and walnuts. Don’t be alarmed the dough is quite oily and wet at this stage.
Flour you work surface with ½ cup flour, scrape the dough onto the flour and sprinkle with more flour. Knead the flour into the dough adding more if you think it needs it. I used the whole 1 ¼ cups of flour. The dough is really different to most doughs I have worked with because of the amount of oil in it. As you can see in the photo it really doesn’t come together like a regular dough. Don’t make it too dry though. Err on the side of less flour if you can. Now wrap the dough in plastic and rest the dough for 30 minutes.
Heat your oven to 180C/350F and prepare baking trays lined with baking paper or silicone liners. Unwrap the dough and pat it into a 9 x 5 inch rectangle. Divide into 30 even pieces. Roll each piece in your hands into a 2 inch oval. Place on your baking trays. Bake for about 30 minutes until cookies are golden brown.
While the cookies are baking prepare your syrup. This recipe suggests hot cookies and hot syrup. Every cook seems to have their own opinion as to whether the cookies should be hot or not or the temperature of the syrup. I will stick to this idea of hot cookies and hot syrup because it worked very well. On to making the syrup. Mix the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer syrup for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cookies don’t look like much when they are done but be patient.
Transfer all the cookies to a baking tray with a lip the fits them all in snugly. Pour over the syrup and let them stand for 15 minutes. Carefully turn over each cookies and let them soak up the syrup for another 15 minutes.
Remove them from the syrup and sprinkle with walnuts. Now don’t be anxious to eat them right away. Let them sit overnight and let the flavours meld and develop.
Enjoy Melomakarona with a strong coffee.