Persian Festive Cookies

Persian Rose Water Rice Flour Cookies (Naan e Berenji): Gluten Free

Persian Festive Cookies

Persian Festive Cookies

Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. Refugee Week 2014 took place between 16-22 June and I decided to try a new recipe to join in the festivities!

Persian Rose Water Rice Cookies (Naan e Berenji) are made to celebrate Persian New Year, are wheat free and have a light crumbly short texture. I’ve come across different recipes that use both cardamom and rose water for flavouring or just rosewater. I used an amalgamation of various recipes.

Ingredients:
  • 500g Rice flour                             
  • 200g Icing sugar                                 
  • 250g Butter                                          
  • 1 Egg yolk                                       
  • 1 tsp Rose water                                 
  • Poppy seeds (for decorating, I used crushed pistachio nuts)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees C
  • Beat butter, icing sugar and egg yolk into a smooth paste (I used an electric hand mixer for a few minutes)
  • Blend in the rice flour and rose water
  • Roll dough into walnut sized balls and squash flat (or use a cookie cutter if preferred)
  • Sprinkle poppy seeds or pistachios on top of each cookie and press in lightly so they don’t fall off
  • Bake on baking paper for 15 to 20 minutes, leave to cool completely on the tray otherwise the bottoms will come away. (I speak from experience!)
Iranian Rose water Rice Cookies

Iranian Rose water Rice Cookies

These cookies are very crumbly and do not spread much when baking, so they can be placed close together on the baking tray but should be handled only after they have cooled completely.

They are very moreish with a very subtle flavour. Adding cardamom would definitely enhance this little biscuit too. The top of the cookies have a cracked look, which I’ve been assured is quite usual! Due to the high fat content, they keep well in an airtight container for up to a week.

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Clandestine Cake Club: Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake

Clandestine Cake Club
Clandestine Cake Cake Club Cake Selection

Clandestine Cake Cake Club Cake Selection

Are any of you Clandestine Cakes Club members? Have you heard of the club before? If not, and you LOVE baking cakes and anything cake related, you have to check it out! The basic premise is that as a member you bake a cake to take to an event, you share the cake with other members and then make new friends over the common interest of cake!

I heard about this secret cake society over a year ago and was super excited with the idea. There are clubs all over the UK, and increasingly all over the world! It was founded in the summer of 2010 by a lady called Lynn Hill from Leeds, Northern England. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, now there is nothing wrong with that!

As you all know you can make plans and then life gets in the way so you put things off and then you find that months have gone by and you still haven’t gotten round to doing those things that you really want to do. The CCC is that thing for me! I joined one of the groups but kept on missing out on their meets due to being busy at work or having other things planned. I even baked a cake once and then missed the meeting as I was stuck at work! So this time, I planned way ahead and sent an email to join the January meeting.

There are a few main things to take note of. The venue is a secret until a few days before the event. Once you have signed up to the event, the organiser will send an email to confirm the venue. There is a ‘Cake only Rule’- ‘CCC is not like any other club. You can share a cake, you cannot share a cupcake, Muffin or a Brownie. There is interaction and conversation as soon as you begin to slice a cake, that you don’t seem to get when you pick up a cupcake etc.’ You can also take a guest with you (who can choose to bake or not!).

Each event has a theme to guide your baking and give inspiration. The theme of the event I attended was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. The groups are run by volunteers who do it because they love cake and baking. So check out your local group and join one today! On the night there were 15 cakes on offer! A lot of new members so lots of people to chat to and get to know. The tea flowed and we worked our way through all the cakes with the determination to try every single one of them.

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

The recipe I decided to go with was a Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake. Not strictly a ‘new’ recipe for me but a ‘new improved version’ of the cake as I wanted to ensure that the cake would taste nice and I not turn out a total disaster! The cake was well received on the night, although it wasn’t the most attractive cake there. I got lots of comments about the flavour combination and was even asked for the recipe, which is always a good sign! The cake is fairly dense but still moist due to the yoghurt and the lime drizzle. The flavours work really well together and it’s sto easy to do if you have a food processor!

So here it is: (You’ll need a food processor and a small sauce pan)

Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake  (Adapted from ‘Sweet Food’ publised by Murdoch Books)

Ingredients

  • 150g Pistachio nuts
  • 1 tsp Ground Cardamom (about 15 pods)
  • 150g Butter
  • 185g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 180g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 125g Plain Yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 tbs Honey

Method

  • Grease and line cake tin (either 20cm round tin or 2lb loaf tin)
  • Place pistachios and ground cardamom in the processor and pulse until just chopped
  • Add butter and flour and caster sugar then pulse for 20 seconds or until crunbly
  • Combine yoghurt and eggs then add to the cake batter before pulsing again for 10 secons or until just combined
  • Bake in oven at 180 degrees C for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
  • In a small pan warm up the lime of the juice and the honey until combined and becomes a sticky syrup
  • Once the cake has cooled a little, pierce it all over with the skewer and slowly pour over the lime and honey mixture as a ‘drizzle’
  • Allow cake to fully cool in the tin

The original recipe contains a lot more sugar and a little less cardamom but I found it way to sweet, so I use honey to make the syrup, and found the cardamom could be stronger, so I have changed the recipe to my taste. The original recipe can be found on this site.

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

I really enjoyed my first event as a Clandestine Cake Club member and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves cake! 🙂

Christmas shortbread: Pistachio with Cardamom and Stem Ginger

 

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

My family and I don’t really celebrate Christmas to the extent that most families do in the UK. We get together with extended family for a couple of days over Christmas Day and Boxing Day to eat lots of lovely food, usually having a fairly traditional roast Christmas dinner. Unsurprisingly the best part of Christmas for me is the giving and receiving of food. For the past few years I’ve been making little Christmas food gifts for friends and family rather than just relying on shop bought festive treats. Partly because it helps to reduce the cost of Christmas shopping, but also because I think putting a little effort into making a gift for someone is always appreciated! And since I’m not blessed with any artist crafty ability or patience to learn a new skill, then I fall back onto the art of baking…

This year I’ve started off with some tried and tested shortbread recipes. This weekend I made some Stem Ginger Shortbread for a friend of mine who is actually celebrating her birthday, so technically this was ‘Birthday Shortbread’. She’s also expecting her second baby, so I figured that ginger is great for any pregnant woman with it’s anti nausea properties (beside being really delicious!).

The second lot of shortbread was flavoured with cardamom and toasted pistachio nuts, a classic combination! These were taken to some friends of mine who I have just started working with as a trustee of the Bumba Foundation. This charity raises money to build schools in Uganda for children who are otherwise unable to get an education. It’s an honour to be part of this work and I look forward to getting stuck into the fundraising events in 2014! Please check out the website for more information about the Bumba Foundation. Today was my first trustees meeting, so I took a these shortbread cookies to make a good first impression.

 

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

The shortbread recipe I used was based on this BBC recipe that I have successfully used in the past but after researching a few other recipes I decided to substitute some of the wheat flour with a couple tablespoons of cornflour to ensure extra crispness, I think it worked! Using this basic recipe as the base, I added the additional flavourings by adding some of the stem ginger syrup to the dough and pressing chopped up stem ginger to the tops of the cookies. For the second batch the ground seeds of about 8 cardamom pods were kneaded into the dough and crushed pistachios pressed into the top.

 

Christmas Gift Box

Christmas Gift Box

I wrapped the shortbread in some gift bags and sealed to keep them fresher for longer then put them in these little Wilton Christmas gift boxes that I found when Christmas shopping. Very cute don’t you think?!

More posts on my Christmas food goodies to come…

Profiteroles with Pistachio Sprinkles: mid week treat after a difficult day…

 

Profiteroles with Pistachio Sprinkles

Profiteroles with Pistachio Sprinkles

Today was a difficult day at work. Meetings back to back and all were pretty hard going! The thing I enjoy about my job is the variety that the day can bring. However it can sometimes be a little difficult to switch off and go home…

By the time I left the office at 7pm the only thought getting me through the traffic jam was the thought of the big pile of profiteroles that I could treat myself too. I think they refer to people like me as ’emotional eaters’! 🙂

Luckily I had these choux balls in the freezer from the Black Sesame Mousse Cake and the chocolate ganache left over from the Ultimate Chocolate Cake made a few days ago. The pistachios were toasted and crushed for a previous cake too! The only addition was some fresh whipped double cream with a touch of icing sugar to sweeten it up.

 

Profiteroles with Pistachio Sprinkles

Profiteroles with Pistachio Sprinkles

I reheated the choux pastry straight from frozen in the oven for five minutes then left out to cool on a rack. With the oven turned off I put the bowl of ganache in the cooling oven melt down into a sauce. Whipped cream was then piped into the balls of crisp pastry before drizzling with the ganache then sprinkled with nuts. All in all this took 10 minutes to put together and 3 minutes to eat!

And if this wasn’t the perfect end to a challenging day, there is still enough of all the ingredients to have another round of profiteroles tomorrow night! 🙂

Not bad for using up left overs…