Winter flavours…

I bloody HATE how early Christmas is every year. There were advent calendars for pets in the local supermarket back in August. I mean, if there’s one thing that’s not essential for Christmas it’s an advent calendar for your pet (sorry Doris)

And then I got irrationally angry about this product and signage in the supermarket yesterday.

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IT’S A CHRISTMAS TREE.

We can all see it’s a bloody Christmas tree, Sainsbury’s, calling it a ‘tiered tree objet’ does not make it less of a seasonal product. And let’s not even go to the bit where you’ve missed the ‘c’ out of object. It does not make it more desirable. I’m hoping it’s just a typo and not some misplaced sense of thinking Frenchifying a word makes a product hipper.

Having said all of that I love Christmas spices. LOVE them. All of them. And so, this very morning, I decided to make a batch of orange and cardamom cookies. And sure, they’re festive, but I deliberately made them heartshaped so they’re not seasonally relevant. Well, Valentine’s day I guess but I’m not American or 14 so I just don’t care. Let’s say I made them as it  was our six year anniversary  a couple of weekends ago and I’m filled with the romance of our love for each other*.

*If you know me, you’ll know I vommed a little in my mouth as I wrote that. 

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Orange and Cardamom biscuits 

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 40g dark muscovado sugar
  • 15 cardmom pods, seeds removed and ground
  • Zest of two oranges
  • 170g butter softened
  • 240g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt

Mix the orange zest and ground cardamom seeds into the sugar so that the sugar is flavoured with the spices. Beat in the softened butter and then sift in the flour and salt. Mix till just combined, then split dough into two, flatten into discs and refrigerate for up to one hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170C.

Take one disc of dough and roll out to about 0.5cm thickness. Using whatever cutters you haev to hand, cut out biscuits and put onto a baking tray (lined with greaseproof paper, of course).

Keep rerolling until all dough is used up. The first disc made about 10 heart shaped biscuits so this recipe will probably make 20 or so.

Bake at 170C for about 15 mins until the biscuits are golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and leave to cool before eating.

The dough can be frozen as can the actual cookies, so you can always have a festively spiced biscuit treat to hand.

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Autumn orchard days

Sadly, I’m not in a position to have my own orchard. I’d love one, but you know, London. And bees. I really don’t like bees. I know, I know, bees are the nice ones, wasps are the evil bastards. But they all have the capacity to sting and that’s really not fun. However, I do REALLY like apples so when my mate Amber posted a picture of her first apple harvest this year I decided that it was a perfect time to go visit her and help myself to some. I mean, catch up with a dear old chum.

And honestly, if you were presented with a photo that looks like this on Instagram, you’d do the same right?

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So after a lovely evening with the O’Connors which consisted of too many bubbles and not enough food  (my own fault entirely), we raided the apple crates and brought a bunch home with us and since then I’ve been on the hunt for recipes for things to do with apples that aren’t upside down cakes.  As per my previous post, I’ve made a lot of upside down cakes recently. In fact, since then I’ve made a couple of pineapple and rum upside down cakes which were officially the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.

As winter is around the corner, I’ve been craving anything bready and baked. And realised what I actually wanted was monkeybread because it’s breaded, baked, buttery and… sweet. What’s a word for sweet that begins with b? So I decided to combine apples with a classic monkeybread recipe and make apple monkeybread muffins. I figure, as they’re individual sized, there’s fewer calories in eating four at a time than there is from eating an entire bundt tin of monkeybread on its own.

Right? Right.

Recipe below. I used a pizza dough recipe as I didn’t want it to be too sweet as the apples were. If I were to make these again, I’d probably wrap the apple mix in the dough and then drench them in sugar and butter as (and this could just be me) the way the dough chunks look reminds me of chopped up chicken breasts and then it makes for a weird visual vs taste sensation. And I also think that you’d get a better apple to dough ratio that way. But give it a go, if you’ve got a glut of apples from you(r friends) orchard.

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Apple and cranberry spiced monkeybread

Pizza Dough

  • 2 x cups of bread flour
  • 2 x tsps dry active yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps oil (I used sunflower as it was all I had, sure you can use anything else)
  • 1.25 cups of cold water

Put all the ingredients in a stand mixer with dough hook and on a low speed combine then continue for a good 10 mins till the dough is stretchy and smooth

On a large board, flatten and stretch the dough till it’s vaguely rectangular and about a centimetre thick. Slice along the length into four equal pieces then randomly chop each slide into smaller nuggets – about 12-15 per length. Dust with flour, cover and leave to one side for a short prove whilst you make the rest of the filling.

Monkeybread

  • 100g butter melted
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsps ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 x cooking apples – you want them to be a little bit tart as there’s a LOT of sugar being added
  • A small bag (about 250g) of dried fruit – I used cranberries, but feel free to use your own favourite
  • Zest 1.5 lemons
  • 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar

Add the spices and salt to the melted butter and leave to one side to cool completely.

Peel, core and grate the apples. Put grated apples in a bowl with the dried fruit and lemon zest, then using your hands, toss with the brown sugar to get it all coated.

Then pour the butter mix over the fruit. Dust the dough nuggets again and add to the bowl and using your hands, toss with the fruit mix until they’re all covered.

Take small handfuls of the dough mix and put into pre-prepared muffin cases.  Once filled, pour any remaining butter from the bowl equally over each muffin. Then cover again and leave to rise for an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 200C. Bake for 25mins till the top is golden brown and the sugar is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before stuffing your face.

You can add a glaze to this, but they were sweet enough for our taste. I still have a glut of apples remaining, so any other apple recipes, ping em my way.