spicy hermit cookies

This is called procrastination, people. When you have at least one and a half thousand words to go until you hit the target for the day (25,005 words on the 15th – it’s hump day and it hurts) but you’ve hit writer’s block (hard. ouch) you write about… well… spicy hermit cookies.

It’s National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day. Don’t ask me where, I was just procrastinating, I mean getting lost in the beauty of, I mean, reading Sweetapolita’s blog when she linked me to this site where they have a directory listing of National Dessert Days. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s predominantly US based but they do have National Peach Melba Day (January 13) so there’s hope for us Aussies.

So what, exactly, is a spicy hermit cookie? Well, I searched the interwebs, the fountain of all knowledge, and found this particular recipe on the Joy of Baking. Apparently, they’re called hermit cookies because they keep well, so they’re good to squirrel away, like a hermit, for later.

And they’re spicy.

I didn’t have all the proper ingredients, so I improvised. But they are just as good as real ones, I promise. (She says, having never tried an actual spicy hermit cookie.) Improvisation is encouraged in baking.

Try them! They’re good, I promise. And they’re good for procrastination, too. They are really easy to make and it’s fairly simple to swap some of the ingredients around if you don’t have them on hand.

Spicy Hermit Cookies

Adapted from the Joy of Baking (not to be confused with Joy the Baker.)

Ok, so I didn’t have allspice, so I swapped in ginger and nutmeg. I didn’t have raisins, so I swapped in sultanas. I skipped the dates and used slivered almonds instead of pecans. They’re still good. And a perfect cookie jar cookie.

115g butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tsp bi carb soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup raisins

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, bi carb soda, salt and spices. Fold into butter mixture in two batches. Fold in fruit and nuts.

Drop tablespoons of mixture onto the baking trays and bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let completely cool, then eat with cold milk or store in amazing cookie jar for future munchies.

get your hands dirty [bread]

I know! Three posts in three days! What is going on?!?! Don’t get used to it, I still have two essays to finish. Ok, one to finish, one to write. This is not going to be a regular thing.

Until after I hand my essays in and do my speeches.

Ok, so after I finished writing the homemade nutella post, I went into the already-dark kitchen (it’s only nine fifteen, people! I’m used to going to bed before you guys!) and did a little after dark baking.

Yes, it is a bit of a habit of mine to bake/cook late at night. I get restless, I get procrastination-y, I get the munchies. You understand.

I wanted to bake crusty bread to serve with dinner – I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but at my house, we take it in turns to make dinner for everyone who happens to be home for dinner that night during the week. Every few weeks we have a night off because there’s six of us and only five weeknights (I can do maths!) and this week, I made white bean and spinach stew. (It was delicious, by the way. Yes, I will be posting. No, I’m not sure when.)

So I had to start tonight because I have uni tomorrow so I don’t have time to let the bread rise during the day, I have to let it rise in the refrigerator overnight (by the way, refrigerator, WHERE IS YOUR D?) Oh, hey, check out this awesome thigamabob:

I’m aware it’s a bowl with a lid. Guys, it’s a BOWLwith a LID. No need to get glad wrap out every time you want to let dough rise! Just pop the lid on! Magic.

It’s pretty easy to make crusty peasant style bread. Stir the flour, water, salt, yeast together. Let it rise. Bake it. Eat it. Easy.

After I put it in the fridge, because I am becoming increasingly unable to leave a dirty kitchen… I was going to say overnight but really, at all – I cleaned the kitchen and then put the dishwasher on (three cheers for dishwashers!) and then came and wrote this.

This actually reminds me of when I went to Surrender. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it… oh, yeah, that was a hectic few weeks back there. Surrender was amazing. While I was there, I did a bread workshop.

Now, it may seem a little weird to have a bread workshop at a Christian social justice gathering, but this was all about getting more in touch with God, with the earth, the things you eat, what sustains you. What brings us together. We come together to break bread, drink wine, share stories, give and receive love. Bread is powerful. Bread has been around almost since people have been around. Bread is so life-giving. Bread’s pretty dang awesome.

Get your hands dirty. Make some bread.

Artisan Bread

Adapted from girl versus dough

I quartered the recipe and I’ll give you the measurements I used next to the measurements you’ll need for the full four loaves. They’ll be pretty small if you want to do it that way but one was enough for seven people to have one slice, so it was perfect for our dinner.

3 cups (3/4 cup) lukewarm water (about body temperature)

1 1/2 tbsp (3/8 tsp… that was why it didn’t rise so much.. should be 3/8 TBSP…ah well) active dry yeast

1 1/2 (3/8) tbsp coarse salt

6 1/2 cups (1 4/5 cups) bread flour

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon until it’s all coming together. Dust flour over the top and lightly knead until you have a slightly sticky ball of dough. Grease a bowl (the same one you mixed it in if you want to save on dishes) dump the dough in, cover with glad wrap and let rise two hours (or overnight in the fridge).

If you made the full amount, split it into four separate balls. Dust each with flour again, and turn the dough around in your hands, tucking it under as you go, until it’s a smooth and elastic ball. Sprinkle polenta over a baking sheet and place the dough (evenly spread if you’re making more than one) on top, and let sit for about 40 minutes.

At about the 20 minute mark, preheat your oven to 230ºCelsius. Slash a sharp knife through the top of your loaves a few times, and place your baking tray on a top rack (when it’s done sitting:) and put a deep dish half full of hot water underneath it. Bake about half an hour.

When it’s done, it’ll be a lovely deep brown colour. Take it out of the oven and let it cool before slicing and serving. I didn’t let mine cool very much. I like hot-out-of-the-oven bread. Dip some in your homemade nutella.

raspberry olive oil muffins

My boss has these muffins that he makes and they’re really popular. You make them in a texas muffin tin (extra large… yum…) and they’re made with oil and they have berries in them (yeah.. I am so articulate today.) And they’re amazing! So I wanted to recreate them for snacks because I get hungry at uni and if I get hungry and I don’t have food on me I’ll buy something unhealthy because I’m shopping while hungry. Not a good idea.

So I looked on my favourite baking sites and found this recipe by Smitten Kitchen, so I decided to make a control batch before I changed things up a bit. Well, controlled by raspberries. I do love me some raspberries.

The thing about baking when you have a bunch of assessments to do is that it’s procrastinating, and I didn’t want to do that so I studied for a bit and then made these and then… failed to study more because it was late by then and I scarfed down a muffin even though I really shouldn’t eat that late at night (especially sweet things). Then I procrastinated a bunch more on the internet.

Then, a week later, I wrote this. Then, two days after that again, I’m posting it. I’m sorry I’m such a busy, frazzled person. I made you muffins. Eat them.

Olive Oil Muffins

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ok, so as I said, I made this as a ‘control recipe’ that was no where near controlled. I swapped in some almond meal, I didn’t use sliced almonds, I added raspberries. They were still delicious. There will be more muffins soon. Just let me finish my essays.

1 3/4 cup plain flour (I swapped in 3/4 cup almond meal for flour)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons orange zest (I used the zest of one orange)

2 teaspoons lemon zest (I used the zest of one lemon)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons milk

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I used about a cup of whole almonds, blitzed them in the food processor, toasted them and then blitzed the big bits again. It wasn’t ideal and I’ll probably do it differently next time.)

about a cup of frozen raspberries

icing sugar, to sift over

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Spray a 12 hole muffin pan with canola spray and dust with flour. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, almond meal (if using) baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and zests until they are really light and fluffy. Beat in balsamic vinegar and milk.

Pour the olive oil in a thin stream as you beat. Crush the sliced almonds as you add them or just dump the blitzed almonds in. Gradually fold in flour mix with a spatula just until incorporated.

Fill each muffin cavity almost to the top with mixture. Crush some raspberries into each muffin and stir in with a fork.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in tin, then on a cooling rack. Eat one asap, but be careful, they’re fragile. Sift icing sugar over and serve with butter.

procrastabaking

I started uni again a couple of weeks ago and just after I started, I discovered this youtube channel and stopped studying before I started.

That’s not entirely true. My general dispensation to stay inside and read, combined with my intense nerdiness which means I geek out over textbooks (textbooks. Not even awesome soon to be published by favourite author who’s going to sign all the first printing of his new book books but textbooks. NERD ALERT) combined with the terrible weather combined with OH MY GOODNESS ALL MY CLASSMATES ARE SMART I NEED TO PROVE MYSELF ness means I still study. But still, I procrastinate. Not only by watching youtube videos but also by baking.

Unfortunately, I seem to be much more able to convince myself not to bake than not to watch youtube (here’s the probable reason why) but fortunately, when I do bake, I make some pretty awesome things.

Like these rolls.

They’re adapted from the most popular recipe on Joy the Baker, Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread, but I made the dough into rolls because I don’t own a loaf pan. Also because I knew that cream cheese glaze would work on cinnamon rolls. Because I still had some left over from when I made carrot pineapple cupcakes.

These were amazing. They are best eaten straight out of the oven, with or without the cream cheese glaze on top (alternatively, for a more complementary cream cheese glaze you can blend the cream cheese with icing sugar and milk until it’s silky smooth and drapes well over the buns.)

This is the song I was listening to when I made the buns:

I freaking love this song!!

And the one I listened to as I ate them:

Clearly I still have some issues to do with procrastination (and perhaps vlogbrothers…) but I have to say, it’s true that when I have to do something, like for uni, I procrastinate, whereas when I do it just for fun, it tends to happen a lot faster. And so I just have to pretend I’m not going to uni and not getting anything for this assessment that’s due in two days, and it’ll happen really quickly! Yay!

It’s been 21 days since the project started and there are some updates, but I don’t want to post twice in one day so you’ll have to wait until an as yet undetermined date. DFTBA.

UPDATE: I wrote this the day the first project incarnation was supposed to “end” but I’m posting it now. Please don’t hate me. The project is failing miserably but I’ll write more later.

Cinnamon Buns

Adapted from Joy the Baker

2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plain flour

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp salt

200g unsalted butter

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FILLING:

1 cup (approximately) sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

 

Whisk together 2 cups of the flour, yeast and salt and set aside.

Whisk together the eggs and set them aside.

Melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan. Let it cool slightly and add the water. Cool so it doesn’t kill the yeast (about room temperature is fine).

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture. Mix it together, then add the eggs and mix them in. Mix until it’s all incorporated, then add 3/4 cup flour and mix until that’s incorporated.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

*At this stage, you can refrigerate it until morning.

Deflate the dough (if you’re taking it from the fridge, just leave it out for about half an hour first) and knead in 2 tablespoons of flour. Let that sit for five minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt the butter. Butter a large baking dish. (Do this. I didn’t. Do.)

Now, roll out the dough until it’s about 50cmx30cm. Brush it with the melted butter, then scatter the dry filling ingredients all over it. Roll it up into a log and slice into thick rounds. Arrange these on the baking tray and let rise another half hour or so. You can preheat your oven now to 180 degrees C.

*Alternatively, at this point I refrigerated my buns overnight. I let them sit for half an hour in the morning while my oven was preheating, and then…

Bake the buns for about half an hour, until deep golden brown. Share with your housemates. I said share! I know it’s difficult. Do it.