Lebkuchen – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #58

Lebkuchen is a spicy German cookie synonymous with Christmas. Soft in the centre and slightly crunchy on the edges, fragrant with spices and sticky molasses. What this cookies lack in looks it makes up for in flavour and like all good things, improves with age!

Lebkuchen adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
115g/ 1 stick salted butter
30mls/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Icing

1 cup icing sugar
15g/1 tablespoon butter, at room temp
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water

 

Method

  1. To make the dough stir together in a bowl the buttermilk and soda. It will become bubbly and thick.
  2. Add the honey and molasses and stir to combine. In a bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter until smooth, add the oil, sugar and vanilla.
  3. Beat for 3 -4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg, followed by the molasses and honey mixture. It will look curdled but that’s ok.
  5. Stir in the remaining ingredients. The dough will be thick and slightly wet. At this point it’s a good idea to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or even a few days to allow the flavours to mature.
    When ready to bake, heat the oven to 180C/350F.
  6. Line baking trays with baking paper.
  7. Use baking paper dusted with flour to roll out the dough. It will be sticky so be liberal with the flour.
  8. Roll the dough to about 1 cm/1/3inch thick.
  9. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters or simply squares with a knife.
  10. Arrange on prepared baking trays allow a little room for spreading.
  11. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Don’t overbake.
    Make the icing as soon as the trays go into the oven, by beating all the ingredients together until a smooth consistency.
  12. Once the cookies are out of the oven and still warm, paint with the icing.
  13. Leave as is or embellish as desired.
  14. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

 

Krumkake – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #57

This week as we race towards Christmas day I find that I’m baking lots of recipes from this wonderful cookbook by Greg Patent. In Montana where Greg lives, the snow is softly falling and the vista is picture perfect. Quite unlike the view outside my window here in North Queensland.  Summer is in full swing with the heat and humidity being quite oppressive. Much of the traditional Christmas foods, designed to warm your guests who have come in from the cold, really don’t suit our climate.

But this crisp, fragrant cookie is perfect in both it’s home in Norway or here in sunny North Queensland or anywhere for that matter. These cookies taste exactly as I had expected – buttery and with a wonderful flavour of vanilla. Eat them as is or fill them with cream, fruit and jam. Traditionally baked on a krumkake iron, I successfully used my pizzelle iron – the pattern is different but the effect is similar. Krumkake are rolled into a cone with a special wooden tool. I used cream horn moulds or you could simply roll around the handle of a wooden spoon.

Krumkake – A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

3 large eggs
3/4 cup castor sugar
1 cup plain flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150g/1 1/3 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid

In a stand mixer, beat eggs on high speed until pale and thick. Gradually add the sugar while beating slowly. Increase the speed and beat for 3-4 minutes until thick and pale.
On low speed, mix in the flour, salt and vanilla. Then with a rubber spatula fold in the butter. The mixture will be quite thick. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

When ready, heat your iron (pizzelle or krumkake). This batter was perfect to drop from a spoon – not to thick or thin. If needed, adjust the batter with a little flour or warm water. Use a teaspoon of batter to make each krumkake. Cook until just golden – which only takes about 10-12 seconds. Remove carefully onto a clean teatowel (to protect your hands). Use whatever device you have chosen to roll your krumkake. Work quickly rolling the cookie around the mould. Once it has cooled and become crisp slide it off the mould. Store in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for 2 weeks.

Swedish Jam Strips – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #47

Homemade jam drops were synonymous with school lunches when I was growing up. Everyone’s mum made them. Those were the days when lunch boxes were packed with sandwiches, homemade cake or biscuits and a piece of fruit. Peer into a lunch box today and you’ll find it’s a little different. It annoys me to see the variety of prepackaged food available specifically for school lunch boxes and a lot of it has little nutritional value. In fact a lot of it is down right rubbish! What a shame today’s society has little time for homemade cakes and biscuits. Baking is now almost considered an art! What would our grandmother’s say?
I would think this is a Swedish version of the Australian jam drops especially as a finger or the end of a wooden spoon is used to make the indentation.
Swedish Almond Jam Strips from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent
3/4 cup ground almonds
220g butter
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons castor (superfine)sugar
pinch salt
1 2/3 cup allpurpose plain flour
3/4 – 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons boiling water
Prepheat oven to 180C/350F and line a couple of baking trays with non stick paper.
In a stand mixer beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat until fluffy. Scrape the bowl and add in the almonds. Gradually mix in the flour. Beat until just combined. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a thick disc. Divide into 4. Roll each into a log about 30cm long by 2 or 3cm thick. Place on prepared tray. Leaving the ends of the log intact make a shallow depression the length of each log with your finger or the end of a wooden spoon. Fill the depression with jam taking care not to overfill. Bake for 25 minutes. As soon as the strips come out of the oven prepare the glaze by mixing all the ingredients together until smooth adding a little more water if necessary. With a teaspoon drizzle the glaze over the jam. Cool the strips for 5 minutes then transfer to cutting board and cut strips at an angle. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Savoury ring cookies – Kahk from A Baker’s Odyssey challenge #46

Back in 2011 I baked Greg Patent’s Granny’s Kahk. Since then I have regularly baked that delicious savoury biscuit so I thought it was about time I tried the yeasted version in A Baker’s Odyssey. Flavoured with sesame, anise and nigella seeds these are also a treat. Great with cheese, olives and drinks. Really these remind me of the Italian taralli. Have you tried taralli? Or have you tried kahk?

Savoury Ring cookies from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent
Makes 36

1 7g packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon mahlab seeds, ground
1/4 cup warm water
60g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups all purpose plain flour
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl mix together yeast, mahlab seeds and warm water. Set aside for 10 minutes, the yeast will start to bubble. In a saucepan melt the butter. Remove from heat then add the extra water.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, seeds and salt. Make a well in the centre and stir in the yeast mixture and butter and water mixture. I found the mixture was very dry at this stage and needed to add a little more water to bring the mixture together. Knead the mixture on a work surface for a few minutes. Lightly oil the bowl and place the ball of dough in the bowl turning a couple of times to coat with a little oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and line a couple of baking trays with non stick paper.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 30 even pieces. Allow the dough to rest again for 10 minutes. Working with one piece of dough at a time roll each piece of dough into a 12cm/5in long rope. Shape into a circle overlapping the evens to secure. Place on prepared baking trays and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Pfeffernüsse Cookies – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #43

How many cookbooks do you own? Can you count them? Do you want to? I don’t even want to count the amount of cookbooks I own. I am mad for cookbooks! I can’t resist them! I am probably a cookbook addict, I would say. As much as I love to buy, read and own cookbooks, I rarely cook more than 10 recipes in each. A few year ago I came across A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. A book showcasing “recipes from America’s rich immigrant heritage”. The recipes within the pages of this book intrigued me so much so that I wanted to bake every single one. And with that thought I started my own personal challenge to bake my way through the book. This is recipe number 43. Pretty good for a cook who barely gets through 10 recipes in any one cookbook. Admittedly it’s taken some time but in the next few months I hope to change that.
This time one of my favourite recipes in the book, Pfeffernüsse, a deliciously spicy sweet recipe from Germany.

Pfeffernüsse adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

1/2 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1/2 cup honey
125g unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 cups plain all purpose flour
1/2 finely chopped almonds

Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup water

Prepare the dough a few hours ahead or even overnight
Put the sugar, honey and butter into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter in melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool until tepid. Whisk in the egg and add the anise, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in with the whisk. Mix the flour and almonds in with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F. Line two baking pans with baking paper. Shape the chilled dough into a 20cm by 10cm (8in x 4in) rectangle and cut into 32 pieces. ( I love this method of portioning the dough!). Roll each square into a ball and place on the baking trays leaving room between each for spreading. Put about 16 biscuits on each tray.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cracks appear on top. Allow to cool slightly then complete cooling on racks.

Set the racks over a tray or baking paper to catch the glaze the will drip off the biscuits.Make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat until boiling. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and brush the biscuits with the glaze immediately. Allow the glaze to set

Roll in icing sugar or dust with icing sugar as I have done.

Nutella Brownie Cups

Early on this year I saw these amazing cookie cups by Lindsay at Life Love and Sugar. Lindsay makes eleven different types of cookie cups – apple, lemon, fruit, peanut butter and snickers just to name a few. I thought these were a great idea and seemed a lot easier than make a delicate pastry, rolling it out and all the drama that goes with pastry. In this case, make a simple cookie-like dough, press into muffin pans, bake and fill. Perfect.

When I made these, I found that they were more like brownies so that’s what I named them. Also extra Nutella in the bottoms enhanced the Nutella experience!

Oh, and if you have a family anything like mine, protect your cooling cups.  I had to make another batch because they seemed to disappear from the wire rack as they cooled.

Nutella Brownie Cups adapted from Life Love and Sugar
makes 16

Printable recipe here

170g butter, room temperature
1 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornflour

Nutella Cheesecake Filling
280g Philly cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nutella, plus extra
raspberries

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Coat 2 x 12 cup muffin (large cupcake) pans with nonstick cooking spray or butter well.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well to combine. Sift flour, baking soda and cornflour into butter mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix well. The mixture will be thick. Take about 2 tablespoons of the mixture, roll into a ball and press into muffin pans and up the sides a bit. You should get about 16. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. If they cups have puffed up, press down with the back of a teaspoon to form an indentation. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Nutella Cheesecake filling

Beat all the ingredients together until well mixed and smooth.

To assemble cups take a small spoonful of Nutella and spread onto the base of the cups. Pipe or spoon filling in and top with a raspberry. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Prepare to be inundated!

Scottish Shortbread – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #42

I can never resist a good homemade biscuit. The Australian biscuit and the American cookie are almost one and the same. I have been lead to believe that the American cookie is maybe a little softer than the crunchy Australian biscuit but I may be wrong there. 
I recently baked a variety of biscuits from Greg Patent’s A Baker’s Odyssey which showcases a wide range from many countries around the world. On the platter there were Scottish shortbread, Italian Anise-Orange Cookies, German Pfeffernüsse, and Greek Kourabiedes.
Even though I know baking is a science and a recipe should be followed to the letter, I never seem to manage that. Either I can’t quite get the correct ingredient or something may not be totally to my taste so I am always evolving recipes and changing to suit my mood on the day. I’m breaking the rules, I know! I decided to roll the dough to the minimum of 6mm asked for in the recipe but that meant a large rectangle resulting in huge shortbread. I don’t think anyone minded! They are delicious and buttery and one small shortbread would never have been enough.
Greg recently baked the exact recipe over at his blog The Baking Wizard. Yep, they look pretty perfect. The key is not to over bake. But with this recipe, whatever way you make them they will be devoured in moments!

Scottish Shortbread adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

250g salted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 160C/325F. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper.

In a stand mixer (or with a handheld mixer or simply with a wooden spoon) beat the softened butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat well until light and smooth. Beat in the vanilla then stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time until fully mixed in. The dough with come together in a mass. Don’t over beat. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.
To roll the shortbread out, dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle about 30cm x 23cm (or about 12in x 9in). Square up the edges with your fingers. Cut into 18 pieces (cut the dough into 3 lengthwise and cut each strip into 6 pieces. These are big shortbread!
Prick each biscuit with a fork 3 times. Arrange on prepared baking trays.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes before removing to rack to cool.

Chocolate and Marshmallow Woopie Pies

In December Bourbonnatrix, of Bourbonnatrix Bakes challenged us to make whoopie pies. This is my results…yes, 6 months late. Sorry Bourbonnatrix!
As an Aussie, the American Whoopie Pie facinated me. Is it a biscuit (or should I say “cookie”)? Is it a little cake? Maybe it’s something in between? What is the filling… buttercream or marshmallow? This is what I think I would like for a Whoopie Pie. Somewhere between a cookie and a cake with a squidgy marshmallow filling. 
So I need help now. The challenge is way over but I need opinions. Please US readers, how did I go? Is the the real thing? What am I looking for? If these are Whoopie Pies, well then, I love Whoopie Pies!

Chocolate and Marshmallow Whoopie Pies 
Chocolate Whoopie  (adapted from taste.com.au)
125g butter at room temp
160g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
50g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp bicarb soda
300g plain flour
330ml buttermilk
Begin by heating the oven to 190C.
In an electric mixer beat butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and smooth. Add the egg and beat to combine.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the cocoa and the bicarb soda. Then gently mix in the plain flour and buttermilk alternatively.
Have ready baking trays lined with paper.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain tube with your mixture. Pipe rounds about 3cm in diameter evenly onto the trays leaving room between each whoopie for spreading.
Bake for 10 minutes or until firm. Cool slightly before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

I used my favourite marshmallow recipe which I was first introduced to during the July 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge. This marshmallow is a Gale Gand recipe and it really produces a no-fail, fluffy and light marshmallow.

Marshmallow filling
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

 1/4 cup water
 1/4 cup light corn syrup
 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
 2 tablespoons cold water
 2 egg whites , room temperature
 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball”
stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
Transfer to a pastry bag.
Pair up the whoopies, matching large one with large ones and so on.
Pipe marshmallow onto one half of a pair topping with the matched whoopie.

To stop sticky fingers and because they are festive I rolled each whoopie in 100′ & 1000’s letting them stick to the marshmallow.

Here are my first Whoopie Pies and I know they will not be my last.

Indian Mawa Cake and Marsala Biscuits- The Daring Bakers’ August 2013 Challenge

 Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious! 
What an exciting and interesting challenge this month with The Daring Bakers! We were challenged to make the very unusual Mawa Cake and a choice of either the Bolinhas de Coco or Masala Cookies.
Mawa cake included the cooked and reduced milk product called mawa which I thought I read somewhere is pronounced mava and spiced with cardamon. 

I chose to make the Masala Cookies flavoured with an array of wonderful spices one of which is curry leaf. Curry leaf is an ingredient I have often seen in recipe but not used and I remembered seeing it sold in small packet in my local super market. Upon research I discovered that curry leaf should grow well in my area so instead of the supermarket I headed out to the garden nursery  in search of the curry leaf plant and the specimen I was shown looked a little unloved and yellowed I thought a bit of tender loving care and water was all it needed. I would show you a photo of it but it still looks a little unloved – maybe a spot of fertilizer might do the trick. It still has all the flavour and aroma but not quite the lush green look.
Thank you Aparna – these delicious recipes will be kept in my baking repertoire. What I loved most was the awakening of the senses with new tastes and scents of exotic ingredients! 

MAWA CAKE (Cardamom Flavoured Milk Cake):
Servings: Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients
For the Mawa:
1 litre (4 cups) full fat milk

For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed crumbled mawa
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (10 oz) (280 gm) castor sugar
3 large eggs
5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
2 cups (500ml) (9 oz) (260 gm) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract (optional)
Cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)

Directions:
1. First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.

2. The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.
3. Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.

4. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.

You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 litre (4 cups) of full-fat milk.

5. Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.

6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.

7. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed and well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.

8. Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top. Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look

 9. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time.
10. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.

We enjoyed with cake for breakfast with coffee. It stayed moist for a few days and the milky, spicy flavour actually improved and intensified. One word – Delicious!!! 



Masala Biscuits (Spicy Savoury Indian Cookies):
Servings: Makes about 2 dozen biscuits/ cookies that are 2 1/4” (55 mm) to 2 ½” (65 mm)wide.

Ingredients:
1-3/4 cup (420 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fine white or brown rice flour (optional)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (or according to your taste)
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
3/4 inch (20 mm) piece of ginger, finely grated
1-1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn, crushed coarsely
1-1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and crushed coarsely
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz) (15 gm) granulated sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped curry leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander/ cilantro
3 to 4 tablespoons (45 ml to 60 ml) cold yogurt
1-1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (or white sesame seeds)
A little oil to brush the tops of the biscuits/ cookies

Directions:
1. I used my food processor to mix the dough as suggested by Aparna. The advantage with using the processor is that the warmth of one’s palms/ fingers doesn’t warm up the dough and melt the butter.
Put both flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl and add the pieces of chilled butter. Pulse until the mixture takes on the texture of breadcrumbs.
3. Now add the chopped green chillies, finely grated ginger, crushed peppercorn and cumin, sugar, the chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves. Pulse a couple of times to mix well.

4. Then add 2 tablespoons of yogurt and pulse again. Add one more tbsp of yogurt (or two, as much as needed), and pulse again until the dough just comes together and clumps together. You want a moist dough, not a wet one – somewhat like pie dough.
5. Do not over process or knead. The dough should be just moist enough for you to use your hands and bring everything together to shape into a ball. Flatten it into a disc and cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least hour. You can also leave it overnight (up to about 24 hours) and work on it the next day.

6. Pre-heat your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and line your baking trays with parchment or grease them with oil.
7. Lightly dust your working surface and roll out the dough to 1/8”(3 mm) thickness, not more or your biscuits/ cookies will not be crisp.I rolled mine quite thin t be sure they would be crunchy. Sprinkle the sesame seeds uniformly over the dough and use your rolling pin, very lightly, to press them in.

8. Using cutters of your choice (about 2-1/4 inch (55 mm) to 2½ inch (65 mm) in size), cut out biscuits/ cookies and place them on lightly greased baking trays. Brush a very thin coat of oil over them. This will help them brown while baking.

9. Bake them in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or till they’re done and golden brown on the top. Remember the baking time will depend on the thickness and shape of your biscuits/ cookies. Let them cool on the trays for about 5 minutes and then cool them on racks. Once they’re completely cool, they should be a bit crunchy and not chewy.

These cookies or crackers are tasty on their own but could be part of a cheese/dip platter. Very moreish!

Honey Walnut Cookies – Melomakarona – Personal Baking Challenge #34

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. 
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!
Melomakarona
Makes 30 yummy cookies
2 cups all purpose flour, plus 1 to 1 1/4 cups for kneading
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/3 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup brandy
1 cup fine semolina
1 1/3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Syrup
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 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 1/2 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 1/4 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.