Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Bara Brith Biscuits

Although not a national holiday, St. David's Day is nonetheless celebrated in a variety of ways, from the well-known parades in bigger towns and cities, to children dressing up in traditional Welsh costume. Another ubiquitous event is the school eisteddfod, a festival of poetry, recitation, music, singing and dancing. These played a big role in my childhood, with extra-curricular activities at school nearly all revolving around these important competitions. My favourite was the individual and group recitation but I also enjoyed taking part in the country dancing, as evidenced in the photo below.

Kneeling down in the front row, squinting into the sun, my smile says it all. Unlike our recitation where we regularly reached the national finals, our dancing group never progressed beyond the first few rounds but that never dampened our enthusiasm. Even the opportunity to wear the costume was exciting enough.
Taking the flavours of a traditional bara brith, these biscuits are lightly spiced, crisp round the edges with a slight chewiness from the raisins. The Welsh dragon cutter adds a celebratory touch but obviously any shape would work well.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus.


Makes about 15 dragon biscuits, or 25 smaller round ones

90g soft salted butter
50g caster sugar
45g soft brown sugar
1 large egg
45g raisins, finely chopped
half a teaspoon mixed spice
200g plain flour
half a teaspoon baking powder

2 large baking trays lined with baking parchment

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C

I use an electric mixer for the whole process but it could be done by hand. Cream the butter and sugar until pale. Beat in the egg, then add the chopped raisins, mixing well.

Sift the flour, mixed spice and baking powder together, then add to the butter and eggs, mixing until everything is combined.

Form into a ball, cover with cling film and put in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to a thickness of about half a centimetre. Cut into shapes and place on the baking sheets.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.

Remove with a spatula to a wire rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Almond and Apricot Amaretti

Almond and Apricot Amaretti

Every time I look in the fridge, I always seem to find egg whites that need using up. They seem to stare reproachfully at me from their cling-film covered bowl. I know that macarons are a great way of using them up and I do make these from time to time but to be honest, I find them a bit of a faff, what with having to use a piping bag and all that. The other common option is to make meringue but as I'm the only one at home who really likes meringue, it falls to me to eat them all, not the best idea when they're basically pure sugar mixed with egg white.  

These then, are what I came up with in my latest attempt at not wasting egg whites. The inspiration comes from an Ottolenghi recipe, and although I've called them amaretti, as he does, they're not really like classic Italian ones. These are sweet, soft and moist, with a pronounced almond flavour, perfect for serving with coffee after dinner or as a pick-me-up for that afternoon slump.

I'm sending these to Treat Petite hosted alternately by Stuart from Cakeyboi  and Kat (this month's host) from the Baking Explorer.

As I'm using up egg whites in this recipe, I'm also sending it over to the fantastic No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. This is  a great challenge and I'm so glad to see it back.

Tea Time Treats Lavender and Lovage

The theme is eggs, so I’m also taking part in this month's Tea Time Treats, hosted alternate months by Karen from Lavender and Lovage, Manjiri from Travels for Taste (this month's host) and Jo from Jo’s Kitchen.



100g caster sugar
180g ground almonds
grated zest of one orange
pinch of salt
2 drops almond extract
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons honey
50g dried apricots, chopped fairly small
icing sugar

a large baking tray lined with baking parchment

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C

Put the sugar, almonds, orange zest, salt and almond extract in a large bowl and mix well with your fingers, making sure that the almond extract and orange zest are evenly distributed.

Add the chopped apricots.

Beat the egg whites (preferably with an electric whisk) and honey until they reach a soft meringue consistency. Then gently fold this into the almond and sugar mixture. What you should have is a very sticky, soft paste.

Form the mixture into rough shapes, you should get about 20 out of this recipe. They're meant to look irregular and rustic so don't spend time shaping them into perfect little balls. Roll them in icing sugar and place them on the lined baking tray.

Bake for about 12-14 minutes, until very lightly golden on the outside but still pale inside.

Leave to cool completely, then store in a sealed jar. They keep very well for about 5 days.