The crumbliest cookies ever

Oatmeal or tahini cookies are great when you are feeling health-conscious and want to make sure your teatime treat contains plenty of fiber and minerals.

But sometimes you just want a tender, melt in the mouth crumbly cookie for the perfect comfort.

These cookies are just the thing: utilizing plenty of high-quality coconut oil and following the classic shortbread 3-2-1 formula, they’ll surprise you with their luxurious texture.

No eggs or leavening needed – great for this period when most hens go off laying.

Take:

3 cups plain white flour

2 cups cold pressed coconut oil

1 cup sugar – better use confectioner’s sugar for extra silky texture.

Optional: flavor with grated aniseed (as in the picture), lemon or orange peel, or ginger.

Mix all dry ingredients. Melt coconut oil and add to the mixture.

Gently work the dough into a crumbly texture and form round shapes or fingers on a baking tray.

Pop into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges just turn golden. Don’t overbake.

Enjoy with a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.

The perfect pizza

DSC_0760

We have harvested our first bunch of tomatoes and put part of them into sauce for this delicious pizza that we had for dinner.

Here are my secrets to a perfect pizza:

1. Don’t let the dough rise too much. You want fluffy bread but pizza should be thin and gooey.

2. Roll out the dough really, really thin.

3. Peel tomatoes easily by dunking them in boiling water for a minute or two.

4. Add plenty of garlic and oregano to the sauce.

5. Be careful not to overbake – the cheese should just bubble and turn slightly golden, not brown.

Enjoy!

 

Delicious beer and onion rolls

DSC_0705

When you’re out of bread, you can run to the grocery store… Or you can get out some flour and dry yeast and whip up a batch of delicious, savory, crusty rolls.

This time, upgraded with beer, dried onions, and caraway seeds.

I’m terrible at quantities, but the general idea is, you use beer instead of water in this recipe.

So, here goes:

About 2 1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp dry yeast

About 1 1/2 cups beer

2 tbsp dried shredded onions

Heaped teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar or honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Some more olive oil for coating

Mix all ingredients and knead thoroughly. Let the dough double in size, then knead again.

Form the rolls and place on a baking sheet. Lightly pat them with olive oil, or spread it with a silicone brush.

Let the rolls double in size again.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tops get nice and golden.

Enjoy with butter, cream cheese, or tuna salad. Yum!

Seriously Simple Sesame Cookies

DSC_0606

Although it’s hard to compete with the oatmeal coconut no-flour cookies, these cookies are lately gaining a place of favor in our family. They are delicious, extremely easy to make, convenient for little hands to shape, and not that bad in nutritional terms. Lovers of sesame seed, like us, will find these addictive.

Recipe is as following:

1 cup flour (almost any kind will work)

1 cup sesame seeds

4 tbsp of your preferred sweetener (maple sugar, date sugar, honey)

1 egg

5 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp baking powder

Mix everything together. You should have a pliable, workable mass. If it comes out too dry, add a little water or an extra egg.

Form round flat cookies, place on cookie sheet and bake until edges are just slightly golden. It should only take a few minutes. Don’t overbake!

Allow to cool and store in airtight container.

The perfect pastry

DSC_0463

Strudel is one of my favorite kinds of pastry because it’s so versatile – basically, anything can go inside – and because, though it is made with white flour, the dough is plain and unsweetened, and the emphasis is on the filling, which can be as little sweetened as you choose. Here is my favorite recipe:

Dough:

2 cups plain white flour

An egg

A pinch of salt

2 tbsp coconut oil or butter – I’m a huge fan of coconut oil, because I usually want to make all my desserts parve rather than dairy, but butter would work just as well.

Just enough water to make the dough into a pliable, elastic ball that can be easily rolled out.

The rolling out, very thin, is the secret of a good strudel – the dough gets all the delicious flavors of the filling.

Filling: there are literally a myriad of variations, but here is my favorite. In a bowl, combine 5-6 thinly sliced apples with raisins, chopped nuts, some ground coconut, and cinnamon. Sweeten as desired. I usually put in a spoonful or two of honey. You could also spread a thin layer of jam over the dough once it’s rolled out.

Roll out the dough, spread the filling evenly, and roll in. Be careful not to tear.

Carefully, transfer the rolled-up strudel to a tray lined with baking paper and brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top (optional). Put into oven on medium heat. Bake until the top is golden, which should take around 30-40 minutes.

Serve warm and enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Harvesting and Using Carob

carob powder

Although it isn’t quite carob season yet, I’m already gearing up for it, especially now that I have a nice new food processor which is going to make turning the pods into powder a breeze! Those dark brown pods are just loaded with nutrients, they are naturally sweet, which means that when using them in baking you can use less added sugar, and best of all, they can be picked for free!

Read more about harvesting and using carob in my latest Mother Earth News post:

“Carob trees grow all over Israel (and in similar climates), and the dark brown pods can be picked in the summer. They keep extremely well, so you can pick a big bunch and then process it at your convenience. Make sure the pods you pick are ripe. They are supposed to look and feel dry and to come off easily from the tree. Choose the biggest, shiniest, healthiest-looking pods.”

Image above: carob powder in the process of making.

The rewards of making bread

bread

Above: a fresh, hot out of the oven, deliciously smelling loaf of bread with onions, caraway seeds and poppy. It was made, in concession to my family’s preferences, with instant yeast and half whole wheat, half white flour. 

Bread is one of the most rewarding and cost-effective things you can make in your own kitchen – anything you bake yourself will save you money, too, vs. any store-bought bread of comparative quality. Far from being time-consuming, it simply requires some planning ahead. Here is the total time it takes to produce a beautiful loaf like the one I made yesterday afternoon:

  1. Mix dough – 15 minutes, more or less, including kneading.
  2. Wait for dough to rise: this varies according to weather, flour used, and yeast (instant or sourdough starter). Can be anything between 1 and 24 hours, but during this time you don’t need to babysit your bread – you just put the dough in a warm place to rise and go on doing other things.
  3. Punch dough down after it has risen – 1-2 minutes.
  4. Wait for dough to rise again: the second rise is usually shorter.
  5. Roll out/shape into loaf (or loaves): 5-10 minutes.
  6. Bake: 20-40 minutes, depending on size of loaves and heat of oven.
  7. Clean up: 10 minutes max.

Total work time: 30-40 minutes. This really isn’t so much at all, when taking into account the deliciousness of the bread and the fact that I know exactly what I put in it (olive oil, organic maple syrup and home-grown eggs, vs. cheap commercial oil, white sugar and I don’t know what else).

So roll up those sleeves, take out your rolling-pin and get to mixing, kneading and baking. You can read more of my posts about bread-baking here, here and here.