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elizabeth_mn ([personal profile] elizabeth_mn) wrote2016-09-19 10:41 am
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Sunday baking

The weather the past week has been wonderfully cool. I put the fluffy goose-down comforters out and got the urge to turn on the oven and bake stuff. And since the historical food fortnightly has fizzled out, I have missed doing cooking posts! So here you are. These are three things I make all the time (though usually not all in one day!).

First I made cookies. I decided to be smart and mix up a double batch so I could freeze half my dough for later.

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These are my favorite cookies ever. They give me serious Frog and Toad moments.

Image result for Frog and Toad cookies

The recipe is based on this essential chewy sugar cookie from King Arthur, but I use maple syrup instead of corn syrup and vanilla instead of nutmeg or lemon. Then I roll them in cinnamon, nutmeg, & sugar to make them more snickerdoodle-y.

I also use a whole wheat pastry flour. All-purpose white flour has been stripped of a lot of its nutritional value, which sucks, but mostly I don't use it because it makes the cookies cakey and it makes pie crust tough. Pastry wheat is a low-protein wheat which is better for anything that should be crumbly or flaky instead of bready.

My favorites are Whole Foods brand and Arrowhead Mills. (Don't buy Bob's, it's way too coarse.) This is my secret to lovely pie crust and flaky biscuits.

I also sub Sucanat in place of brown sugar because it is more raw and natural. Brown sugar is simply refined white sugar with molasses stirred in.

Here is my version.

Chewy Sugar Cookies
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sucanat
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2  teaspoons baking powder
1/2  teaspoon baking soda
1/2  teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup coarse sugar or granulated sugar, for coating
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375°; lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

In a big bowl, beat the butter, sugars, maple syrup, vanilla, and egg together. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a shallow dish; drop the dough by the tablespoonful into the sugar, rolling the balls to coat them. Flatten into fat discs.

Place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are just barely beginning to brown; they will look soft. If you bake the cookies too long, they’ll be crunchy, not chewy.

Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Then while those were in the oven I mixed up a batch of granola. This is a breakfast staple at my house, to eat either with milk or with plain yogurt and fruit. If you eat sweetened yogurt, this might be a little too sweet to go with.

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The original recipe is better than from a bakery granola from Everybody Likes Sandwiches. Here is my version. It's pretty plain because I don't like a bunch of crap in my granola, but you can always add what you like. The raisins are optional and I almost never add them.

Also, when the weather is very humid I use less honey and more maple syrup in its place; the honey makes the granola more chewy in humid weather while the maple keeps it crisp.

Sweet and Clumpy Granola
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup sucanat
1/4 cup dark Grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

4 cups large-flake rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup golden flax meal
1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a large bowl, whisk oil, sweeteners, spices, and salt until blended. Add oats and nuts and stir until everything is well coated.

Spread mixture evenly over a large, parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 325° F, then use a spatula to flip the granola over. Bake another 10 minutes, then remove and flip again. Add the raisins now, if using. Bake a final 5-10 minutes, then remove and let cool completely in the pan.

When it’s cool, break into pieces with your hands and store in an airtight container.

That was enough sweets so finally I made vegetable pasties.

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For the filling I like to use leftover cooked potatoes, either mashed or cubed. This is why I never cook "just enough" potatoes, but always make craploads, because there are so many things you can do with the leftovers.

These ones were cubed and boiled with chopped cabbage. That was a nice meal with salmon the first time around, and for the pasties I added cooked carrots and onions, grated cheese (Gouda), salt, and herbs.

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You can really add anything, but the basic things you need are potatoes, something alium (onion, garlic, leek), vegetables of choice, and cheese. Sometimes I add peas, or cauliflower, or parsnips, or kale. Usually whatever leftover cooked vegetables I have in the fridge get tossed in. To up the protein you could also put in cooked lentils or chickpeas, chopped hard boiled egg, or pieces of cooked fish or meat.

My crust recipe is based on one from Beatrice Ojakangas, my patron saint of all Scandinavian cooking, as well as savory pies. Beatrice has a tiny book called Pot Pies that this recipe comes from. Of course I can't leave anything alone so here is my version:

Pie Pastry
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
2 tsp lemon juice
1 egg, beaten (divided)
4 to 5 Tbsp ice water

Stir the salt into the flour. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or a big fork until it looks crumby.

Add the lemon juice, half the ice water, and about 3/4 of the beaten egg. Mix gently, adding water as needed, until dough just comes together.

Add a tablespoon of cold water and a pinch of salt to your reserved egg. Use this to glaze your crusts.

Yesterday I ran low on pastry flour so I subbed in rye flour for 25% of the total flour. I love rye crusts and it was delicious.

To make the pasties, I roll the crusts out pretty thin, cut into rectangles, add a scoop of filling, and fold and seal the edges as best I can! They can be tricky to manage; a thin crust can tear a lot, but a thick crust doesn't bake all the way at the folded parts and that's icky. So I usually just put up with a certain amount of tearing.

Then I poke holes with a fork and glaze them with the egg mixture. I bake them on a parchment-covered sheet at 375 F for about 45 minutes.

I make them pretty small so 2 or 3 make a meal. You could definitely make them bigger but they become more difficult to hold in your hand.

My pasties will never win any beauty contests but do they ever taste good! Here they are in a more natural light on my porch.

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I doubled the crust recipe and made 32 of these (and froze some). They are perfect for tossing into The Girl's lunch box. Or mine.

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