Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sweet talking

For those of you who have come across me in the twitterland running community what I'm going to be writing about will not come as a surprise. As much as I go on about running in general and hills in particular (I do love a hill), I also seem to end up talking food a lot. Especially cake talk.

Baking isn't something I get to do so much these days. My new job has slightly awkward hours so if I want to get some baking done I either have to do it super-early and sacrifice a morning run, or wait til a child-free weekend. Running, karate (I now usually train 6 hours a week) and my children's own sporting needs have rather taken over. Funny, I never thought I'd be living in a 'sporty' household let alone be so involved in sport myself! Isn't it odd how life turns out?

Anyway, I've promised a few twitter friends some recipes for cookies. Although the recipes come from a most reliable source- Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet book- a real life friend has been a most willing guinea pig. Some of the recipes I haven't altered at all, some are the sort where you can substitute one spice or fruit for another depending on your taste or what's in the cupboard. 

Cookies are great because they are portable, easy to eat (sometimes cake really does need a plate & fork) and keep well either once baked or as raw dough in the fridge. They are quick and convenient and as you'll see from these recipes they can also be reasonably nutritious, making them an ideal snack for a hungry runner or karate ka. I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible but I'm not perfect and we do have some shop bought cereal bars, Nakd & 9 Bars, but when I can I make big batches of these.

So here goes:

Spelt and Ginger Cookies

I love these cookies- the texture is nice and chewy and they are quite gingery. Probably not one to make if you don't like a pronounced ginger flavour.
  • 50g butter or spread (I use Pure sunflower spread usually)
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 30g crystallised ginger, rinsed and chopped
  • 50g each of caster and soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 150g spelt flour
  • 1 heaped tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb
  1. Gently heat the butter, syrup & ginger in a saucepan until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat the beat in the sugars, egg yolk and then the remaining ingredients to make a smooth, soft dough.
  2. Heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan or gas 6. Line some baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment and place teaspoonfuls of dough onto the trays. Keep the balls of dough about 6-8cm apart as the cookies spread as they bake.
  3. Bake in batches for 7-8 minutes or until the cookies have puffed up and are golden at the edges.
  4. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully removing them off the tray and onto a rack.

Rye & Raisin Cookies

These are not the prettiest cookies in the world but are probably the most delicious. It's worth buying rye flour specially to make these although we usually have some at home as it's nice to add rye to plain flour when making bread.

  • 125g butter or spread
  • 100-125g soft brown sugar (doesn't matter if it's light or dark)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa (this is for colour rather than flavour)
  • 1 egg white (so you might as well make these as well as the ginger cookies!)
  • 150g rye flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 250g raisins
  1. Heat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4 and line baking sheets with non stick baking parchment.
  2. Using an electric mixer if you have one beat together the butter, sugars and cocoa until smooth then beat in the egg.
  3. Add the flour and bicarb and mix this together with a wooden spoon before adding the raisins.
  4. Place lumps of dough about 10cm apart onto the baking sheets and bake for 12-15 min until the raisins start to puff up through the dough.
  5. Let cool on the trays for 5 min before removing to a rack as the cookies are fragile when they first come out of the oven.

Oat and Cranberry Cookies

The Dan Lepard recipe calls for dried sour cherries but I've not seen those outside of the States. Probably I don't shop at a posh enough supermarket, but dried cranberries works fine or of course you could use another dried fruit.

  • 225g butter or spread
  • 375g light soft brown sugar + 50g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 300g plain flour or 50/50 plain & wholemeal
  • generous 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2tsp bicarb
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 200g dried cranberries
  1. Beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, the beat in the eggs one at a time.
  2. Sift the flour, spice and bicarb together then stir into the mixture. Finally mix in the oats and dried fruit.
  3. Heat the oven to 170C/ 150C fan/ gas 3 and line baking sheets with non stick paper. Place lumps of dough about 6cm apart on the sheets and bake for 12-14 min. Once again, leave to cool for a few minutes before removing to a rack.
One-a-Day Cookies

I really like these! Use whatever seed mix you have or like.

  • 125g butter or spread
  • 100g caster sugar + 100g muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g each of rye and spelt flour (the real recipe says 100g wholemeal)
  • 150g of lightly toasted seeds of your choice. I use linseed, sunflower, sesame and chia.
  • 100g rolled oats
  1. Heat the oven t0 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4 and line baking sheets with non stick paper
  2. Beat together the butter & sugars then add the egg and beat until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Stir in the vanilla then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Place spoonfuls of dough well apart onto the baking sheets. These cookies spread quite a bit so you might only get 6 on a sheet.
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown at the edges. Let rest for a couple of minutes before carefully removing onto racks.

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