Ma’amoul Swirls

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As you near the house all you hear is a familiar sound. The BANG of the Ma’amoul mould being hit on the edge of the table. Yep, it must be nearly Easter and Mum and Dad are elbow deep in Ma’amoul biscuit dough. On one side there is a big bowl of date filling and on the other a bowl of crushed walnut and rose water. The smell of melted ghee wafts out the kitchen and invades your nostrils. Only a few more steps and you’ll be amid the organized chaos and within arms reach of this years batch of Ma’amoul.

And then you see them….

Mounds of lightly browned date or walnut filled biscuits, still slightly warm and definitely too good to just stand around and look at so you make a run for them. But no…. you’re forced back by the  ‘DON”T YOU TOUCH THOSE’ yelled out in unison by both Mum and Dad…

I’d love to say that is a memory of our childhood but the truth is it happens still, every year.

These little gems are quite different to the Ma’amoul we wait for every Easter. My sister makes something very similar and I could sit and eat a whole plate of them with a cup of tea or coffee.

Let me tell you how I made Ma’amoul Swirls from this months The Cookbook Guru‘s beautiful book of choice, Saha by Greg and Lucy Malouf.

For the filling you’ll need:-

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200g fresh dates, pitted and chopped

4 Tblsp water

1 Tblsp castor sugar

1 Tblsp Kahlua (which I didn’t have so I used Dranbuie)

Melt the sugar in the water over a low heat then add the dates, stir well and cover. Leave for four or five minutes to soften then take off the heat and stir in the Kahlua. Leave to cool slightly then blitz in a food processor until smooth. Leave to cool.

For the Biscuit dough:-

270g plain flour

150g butter

30g icing sugar

20ml olive oil

45ml milk

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar then add the milk and oil and work into a smooth dough.

On a floured bench, roll out the dough to a large rectangle, about 3mm thick, and spread the filling over the top evenly leaving a small margin on one of the long sides.

Now roll into a long sausage making sure to seal the edge well. Chill in the fridge for about an hour (this helps with the cutting).IMG_1512

Pre heat the oven to 160oC. Slice the biscuit log on the diagonal about 1cm thick and place them on a baking paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes then turn the heat down to 140oC and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Cool on wire racks.

The result…melt in the mouth biscuits. Absolutely delicious….

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My sister’s version is rolled in sesame seeds. I’ll have to try that next time.

Enjoy…

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Playing With Recipes : Date and Oat Slice.

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I’ve been playing with this recipe for years. The original recipe is from the very old ‘Book of Home Baking’ by Margaret Fulton. I don’t actually remember where or when I got this book from but it does have an old faded Big W price sticker on it. It’s a book I’ve used many many times.

In particular this recipe which is fantastic in itself but I can’t help myself and add something different to it nearly every time.

Let me know if you do…..

In a small saucepan put 300g chopped dates, 2 Tbls water, 1Tbls lemon juice and 1Tbls honey. Simmer gently over a medium heat until the dates are soft. Take off the heat and leave aside while you prepare the crumbly oat layers.

In a medium bowl mix together  225g wholemeal flour with 200g rolled oats and then rub in 220g butter. Stir in 60g brown sugar and I like to add about 50g flax seed and a few pepita and sunflower seeds.

Press 1/2 this mixture into a shallow square or rectangular baking dish which you’ve lined with baking paper.  Cover with the date mixture. Here is where i play with the recipe. I’ve added a layer of thinly sliced apple or pear, some sultanas, currants, pecans, slivered almonds, whatever I had at hand. Today I’ve sprinkled a handful of dried cranberries and some chopped  walnuts.

Cover the filling with the remaining crumble and press down well.

Bake at 190c for 35 – 40 minutes until brown.

Cut into slices while still warm then cool completely in the tin before removing and serving and eating.

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This slice is still delicious even 1 week later, just keep it in an air tight container.

If you leave out the nuts it makes a great lunchbox snack.

Enjoy…

Little Apple Pies.

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Sometimes you just need apple pie.

For this one I added dates to the filling instead of sugar. It added a great flavour.

A little ice cream on the side and you’ve got yourself a brilliant dessert.image

So…..

For the pastry rub 50g butter into 100g plain flour, 15g polenta and 20g sugar until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a little cold water (about 2-3tablespoons) and mix into a dough.

Roll out to 3mm thin and line the base and sides of two small tart tins. With the left over pastry cut two rounds big enough to cover the tops of the tins. Chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Peel, core and dice 1 green apple. Put in a small saucepan with 5 chopped dates, 1tablespoon sultanas, juice of half a lemon and a couple small cubes of butter. Cover and gently cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and the dates have melted. Add a few chopped walnut pieces and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Stir and leave to cool.

Once the filling is cool, divide it between the two pastry lined tins, cover with the two pastry rounds and seal with a fork. Brush a little water over the top of each pie with and sprinkle with a little raw sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180c. The top should be a light brown.

Enjoy…

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Gluten free delight – gluten and sugar free banana, date and seed bread.

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The no added sugar banana bread I made a few weeks ago proved to be quite popular.  This time around I attempted a gluten free version so my sister could enjoy it too. She was diagnosed a celiac a few years back,  so I try out new recipes with wheat ingredients and then adapt them to make them gluten free.

Gluten free baking is daunting at first, but once you’ve done the research and bought the proper ingredient it can be very rewardng and delicious. A lot of recipes ask for several different flours but I’ve been using Orgran Gluten Free Flour and find the only thing I really need to add is Xanthum gum (which I think some supermarkets stock but I just fill a container from my sisters stock).

I had tried other brands while I was working at a bakery, but Orgran seemed to work the best.

So here’s the Gf, Sf banana bread…..image

In a bowl mix together:

250g gluten free plain flour

2g bicarb

5g baking powder

3g table salt

5g Xanthum gum

Set aside.

Cream 120g butter  with 120g chopped dates and 40g glucose syrup (make sure it’s made from corn and gluten free) until the dates have broken down and blended really well with the butter. Add 1 egg (free range)  and beat well.  Add 280g peeled and roughly chopped banana and mix in.

Next throw in the flour mix and 150g milk (I used soy) at the last minute I also added 60g of seed mix (this is a mix I make up which consists of chia seeds, flaxseeds, pepita seeds and sunflower seeds. It’s great sprinkled on cereal  or  on the top of homemade bread before baking).  Mix well.

Spread mix into a baking paper lined loaf tin and bake at 180c for about 70 – 80 minutes.image

It’s actually surprisingly sweet for something that has no sugar added.

Enjoy…

 

“No Added Sugar” Banana Bread

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Sugar….

Just about everybody loves it. Unfortunately though, too much is a bad thing. Sad but true.

My challenge was to come up with a sweet treat that wasn’t sugar sweetened.

Fruit would be the way to go. In particular Banana’s.

“Banana’s contain sugar” I hear you say. True, but they also contain potassium, are a great source of antioxidant,  taste so darn good and the less ripe the fruit the lower the G.I.  Perfect.

I decided to work with the previously posted Banana and Coffee Bread recipe.

After a few ingredient adjustments and a couple of  trial bakes, the final recipe  resulted in a very moist, ‘ no sugar added’  sweet Banana Bread.

Try it. It’s terribly simple to make and absolutely delicious.

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You’ll need:

120g butter cut into cubes (I use salted)

120g chopped dates

1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

60g milk (I used soy)

150g plain wholemeal flour

100g plain flour

5g baking powder

2g bicarb soda

5g ground cinnamon

250g banana – not too ripe

80g  chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, beat the butter and dates together until the dates are all broken up and mixed really well with the butter.  Add the egg, vanilla and roughly chopped banana and beat until it’s all mashed up.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, bicarb and cinnamon and throw it all into the bowl with the banana. Pour in the milk and mix until combined. Stir in the walnuts.

Spread into a lined loaf tin and bake at 180c for 55 – 60 minutes or until brown.sugar free banana bread 2

My next challenge will be to make it  gluten and sugar free. My sister’s a coeliac and  a tough critic.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Enjoy…

Scones….

ImageMy my parents-in-law love these scones. And what’s not to love???? They’re full of dates, ginger and honey….yum. Made these ones fresh this morning and they are on their way to my in-laws place as I write this. Chop 1/2 cup dates and 1/4 cup of glacé ginger into small pieces. Put them in a bowl with 2 cups of sifted self raising flour, 1 teaspoon ground ginger (less if you don’t like too much ginger), and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Mix well. In a small saucepan, gently heat  1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 cup milk (I use soy), and 1/4 cup cream till just hot enough to melt the honey. Add to the flour and lightly mix with a flat bladed knife until it all comes together to a soft dough. Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and squash it down to about 2 cm thick. Cut out rounds and place them on a greased baking tray. Bring leftover dough back together and continue cutting out rounds until the dough is finished. Image Heat 1 tablespoon milk with 1 teaspoon honey and brush this over the top of your scones. Bake in a preheated oven, 210 degrees, for 15 minutes or until they are a lovely golden brown. Let them cool down for a few minutes before you try and shove them all in your mouth at once. Enjoy……Image