You may think that I am super strict about what I will allow my kids to eat. And you may be right. I certainly very, very rarely buy any sweets, lollipops or jammy dodgers (sorry Dr Who). I must be one of the few people in the world who would rather eat carrots than chocolate and brownies have no hold on me! Maybe it is because of my old profession and all the drilling and filling I did! See below my old office which I spotted in a New Zealand museum last time I went home. To think my former dental chair was in a musuem! Now how old does that make me feel?
Anyway I do allow myself and the kids to eat CAKE and COOKIES (or biscuits) but I much prefer it when they eat homemade baked goods. At least then you know what is in them and can “health” them up a little by using wholewheat organic flours, less sugar or even a sugar substitute such as maple sryup, apple puree or ripe bananas. I make scones once a week at least and vary them by adding apricots, fresh apple, grated pear, dates, cranberries and so on. Scones are easy as long as you stick to the basics of not over-mixing (leads to rubbery scones) remembering to add a little salt (very flat tasting without) and having an extremely hot oven. Hot from the oven with a very good jam or using the time tested frozen strawberries and maple syrup to create your own jam substance, how can they be beaten. I think too that the smell of baking brings comfort especially on a grey, grim day. We are also partial to ANZAC cookies which are excellent lunchbox fillers. And we all like a loaf, sliced and buttered up served on a lace doilly. Loaves remind me of my mum, morning teas for hay-makers down on the farm and lace table clothes. Loaves are really very, very easy to make and you can freeze half all ready for another week. They do stay fresh in a tin for a few days and are great for popping into that snack or lunch box. We have a lot of apples to use up as the harvest was excellent this year in our small urban space so here is a recipe I have adpated from Delia Smith to use up a few of ours.
Apple and Apricot and Nut Loaf
175 grams organic dark dried apricots cut into quarters
175 grams apples chopped into small chunks
175 grams pecan nuts
a pinch of salt
1 and half teaspoons of Baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
110 grams of whole wheat flour
110 grams of plain spelt flour
110 grams of softened butter
100 grams of brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
about half a cup of milk
To top dark brown sugar and cinnamon or a bit of museli
Heat oven to 180 c or 175 fan
Place raw nuts on a tray to roast for 8 minutes when oven is warmed up. Remove and set aside.
Sift into a mixing bowl the flours, the salt, cinnamon and baking powder – lift the sieve high to get some air in!
Add in sugar and butter and mix – can use an electric mixture or a spoon. Then add in the fruit and mix in lightly. Add a little more milk if you think it is too dry!
Spoon into your greased loaf tin or silicone loaf tray. Sprinkle some sugar or cranola on top.
Bake about 35 – 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in tray for 5 minutes and then turn out onto cooler!
Serve this with Dutch cheeses, quince jelly, jams, butter! Delicious!
I love baking but I accept many people don’t so I will add this last little tip – go and try one of the cakes at Baklust on the Veenkade in The Hague where the charming ladies above turn out lovely Carrot cakes, rich cheesecakes and nice soups and omlettes. Lastly a word on the cake or is it a cookie of the moment, yes the rather wondeful macaroons that cost a fortune and melt in the mouth. I agree that even for a non sweet tooth like me, they are quite lucious and light. I haven’t attempted to make them as yet but I did use some of Phillipe Garlenes in a trifle inspired by Donna Hay and it seemed to be appreciated.
I continue to suggest we refer to these sweet things as “sometimes” foods rather than treats. The Food Forum’s take on cakes is the following: they are not for every mealtime but as we are only human we do eat them now and then. And when we do we only want the very best which is most often home-made with a few, a very few exceptions! Enjoy!