Date and Apple Scones

My mother had a tried and true everyday scone recipe, based on that in the Edmonds Cookery Book, that won her prizes at the farming district’s local Flower Show in the 1950s. The aroma of date scones for afternoon tea fresh out of the hot oven wafted from the house as we four children walked from the school bus across the paddock to the house. Dad always had afternoon tea before milking the cows. No leftovers.

The scones were made with pure New Zealand butter cut into six cups of white flour, Edmonds “sure to rise” baking powder, salt and sugar using a knife then mixed with creamy unpasteurised farm milk. Chopped dried dates were layered on half the dough that was folded over before being cut into large squares before being brushed with milk and sprinkled with cinnamon flavoured white sugar. Mum taught my sister and I to have a light touch with the dough and to not over-mix the ingredients. Our measurements were approximate and remain so to this day.

My own scone making has evolved through the years. With a type-2 diabetic in the family, ingredient adjustments to tried and true recipes are necessary. Himself loves home baked goodies.He has found it useful to be able to grab a scone from the freezer for an after-gym-workout snack when his sugar level tends to get low. Hence I make a double quantity.

Date and Apple scones
Hot scones fresh from the oven

Essentially I still start with six cups of flour, which could be a mix of white with buckwheat or wholemeal flours, and baking powder. I  add spices such as cardamom or cinnamon and no longer add salt or sugar to the scone dough. A rice bran spread with no palm oil is cut into the flour. Chopped succulent Medjool dates and grated apple are mixed with fresh orange juice before being added with buttermilk to the dry ingredients. I cut the dough into smaller shapes than in the past. The top of the dough is brushed with milk and finished with a light sprinkling of cinnamon  mixed with raw sugar before being baked in a hot oven.

I like to think Mum would be pleased how her date scone recipe has evolved. Simple everyday baking, a fresh scone with a cup of tea or coffee is hard to beat.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of white flour
  • 1 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 12 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 150 grams rice bran spread
  • 2 cups buttermilk – about
  • ¾ cup chopped medjool dates and ½ grated apple with skin on, soaked in juice of 1 orange
  • cinnamon mixed with raw sugar

Method

  • Sift the dry ingredients.
  • Cut the spread into the flour until it is like breadcrumbs.
  • Mix buttermilk and fruit mixture to form a soft dough.
  • Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly
  • Line an oven with baking paper.
  • Cut dough into shapes and place on tray.
  • Brush tops with milk.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  • Makes about 15-18 depending on size.
  • Bake at 220°C for about 10 minutes.

Chocolate Truffle Cake ~ glorious, rich and decadent

The first three weeks of March have been very busy. Family occasions involved five birthdays, two wedding anniversaries and Easter. This meant time spent in the kitchen, baking and cooking.

Sixty years set them apart, and Himself and two grandsons had a date to blow out candles together on a birthday cake. 12-year old Grandson in particular, is a chocoholic and Poppa is a diabetic. Athletic and fast-growing into teenage-hood, Grandson designated himself as his grandfather’s deputy to eat Poppa’s slice of birthday cake, chocolate in all its glorious richness, decadent it had to be. Chocolate Truffle Cake it would be.

Measurement of ingredients is typically a ‘roughly about’ thing when I cook. I understand very well the intricacies of baking special cakes, but it is not an everyday practice. Precise measurements were a must for this recipe. Care and attention must be paid to time when working with couverture chocolate, cream, egg yolks and sugar. Assembling the elements was to be my new chocolate cake experience. Getting a glossy and smooth coating was my challenge. I trusted Australian food writer, Donna Hay’s instructions.

Ingredients Truffle Cake

  • ½ C plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1/3 C caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 80 gms butter, melted

Ingredients Truffle Filling

  • 450 gms dark couverture chocolate
  • 2 C single or pouring cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 C caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Sift the flour and cocoa three times and set aside. Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and thick and tripled in volume. Gently fold through the flour and cocoa and then the butter.

Line the base of a 20 cm springform tin with non-stick baking paper. Pour in the mixture and bake for 25 minutes or until the cake comes away from the side of the tin. Cool in the tin.

While the cake is cooking, make the filling. Place the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and beat for six minutes or until thick and creamy. Fold the chocolate mixture through the egg mixture and beat for six minutes or until cold. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To assemble, remove the cake from the tin and cut in half horizontally. Place the bottom layer back in the tin and pour over half of the filling. P lace the top layer on the cake and cover with the remaining filling. Refrigerate for five hours or until set.

To serve, place a warm tea towel around the tin, which will help to ease the cake away from the side. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and use a heated palette knife to smooth the edge.

Decorating the Truffle cake

Easter pending and staying with the chocolate theme, I used strawberry-filled Easter eggs and a purchased chocolate disc with ‘Happy birthday’ written in white chocolate. I noticed a few rough spots on the coating and thought more truffle filling could have been poured to make a thicker middle layer. Too scared to lift the cake from the tin base, I left it. But hey, no-one cared. Eight grandkids and their Aunts all swooped. It’s chocolate, for goodness sake. What else did you expect! One candle for each birthday boy completed the picture.

Chocolate Truffle Happy Birthday Cake
Birthday cake for Poppa and two Grandsons
Chocolate Truffle Birthday Cake
Chocolate Truffle Cake with strawberry filled Easter egg

 

One Hour to Dinner ~ Lamb Curry

Not feeling like cooking tonight after a busy and tiring day. But put dinner on the table I must – particularly as the Type-II diabetic member of the household must follow a regular and healthy eating plan. The whole family can eat the same meals and everything cooked in one-dish is a quick way to get a meal to the table. By no means an expert, I am now used to making sense of the nutritional numbers on food labels and I make sure there are suitable packets and tins of convenience food staples in the pantry. My garden vegetables and herbs provide that vital fresh green element. It is important to reduce fat, not add salt and to enhance flavour with herbs and spices.

Blood glucose levels are directly affected by the kind and amount of carbohydrate foods eaten. Non-starchy vegetables like aubergine, chilli, onions, pumpkin, silverbeet or swiss chard and zucchini are less likely to raise blood glucose levels. One tip I picked up at at a diabetic dietary seminar was to decide the kind of carbohydrate and then to build the dish around that. Wild and long grain rice would be the ¼ plate serve of carbohydrate. Tonight’s ¼ plate serve of  protein was diced lean lamb.

Tonight’s recipe, if it can be called that, made about 5 to 6 servings. We eat off small dinner plates – a dietary portion control tip. Flavours and quantities were decided at random as I cooked, using whatever was to hand in the fridge and on the shelf.

Lightly spray the cooking surface of an electric frypan with Canola oil. Preheat the frypan.

Sauté 1 large chopped onion, 1 finely chopped yellow chilli  and 1 heaped teaspoon each of crushed garlic and ginger pastes.

Add 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, cardamom, dried coriander flakes and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Stir and continue to sauté for about 1 minute.

Brown about 500 grams of diced lamb that has been trimmed of excess fat. Stir in about 2 cups of peeled, diced pumpkin and 1 medium diced aubergine.

Add 250ml no-added salt vegetable stock. Stir and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Dice 1 large zucchini and shred several leaves of silverbeet or swiss chard. Add to the meat mixture and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in and gently heat through 165ml coconut cream (no additives).

Taste and adjust flavours as desired.

Microwave pre-cooked wild and long grain rice according to instructions on packet.

Serve and enjoy.