In the kitchen… Olive, orange and rosemary crown

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It’s a humid and overcast day and little sunshine to invite me outdoors…  so I thought a perfect time to make some bread.  I think we will all agree nothing smells more tempting than the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the house! 

I love to make bread – from a plain cob; to a seeded bloomer and more speciality breads.  I  find the entire process to be totally relaxing, (that’s providing it turns out according to plan!)  from the mixing, kneading, to watching it prove and taking your treasured baked loaf from the oven.  Of course, the most rewarding part is eating the fruits of your labour!  This is the time… when I practically need to hide the hot loaf, to completely cool, before tearing it open and trying to not devour it!!

However it’s been a while since I devoted some time to making bread… so I was in the mood for some savoury flavoured bread – in the form of bread rolls.  I decided to perfect Olive, Orange and Rosemary Crown! Sounds ambitious!  I have made this particular  recipe a few times before but I think this was my most successful attempt at these delicious rolls… a hint of rosemary, with a salty note from the olives and a fresh zesty orange flavour!

This is a Ruby Tandoh recipe, from her book Crumb – a celebration of the simple joy of baking.  Ruby was a Great British Bake-off finalist and now writes for the Guardian – a very talented young lady!  I have made a small tweak to these rolls, with the addition of some rosemary, which I think works perfectly with the orange and olives!  On the subject of olives, I suggest you use good quality – rubbery, cheap olives won’t do your bread justice!  I always find adding a glug of good olive oil to your bread dough, gives a richer flavour and produces a rich tender loaf.

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Olive, Orange and Rosemary Crown

350g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
1½ teaspoons instant dried yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
60ml olive oil
175ml cool water
Zest of 1 orange
100g Kalamata olives, chopped and patted dry
a good sprig of Rosemary, finely chopped

Method

Combine the flour and yeast in a large bowl then stir in the salt. Add the oil, water, rosemary and orange zest and mix roughly to combine. Knead the dough.  It’ll be wet and uncooperative to start with but the high oil content should stop it from sticking too much.  Persevere until it is elastic and no longer sticky — this will take about 10 minutes.  Knead in the chopped olives and set the dough in a large, covered bowl to rise at room temperature for 1½–2 hours, or until doubled in size.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 5 pieces and roll each into an oval shape — a little like a rugby ball.  Arrange the portions in a circle shape on a large baking tray, each piece of dough very close to, but not quite touching, its neighbours (they will swell and join as they rise and bake).  Leave to prove for 40–50 minutes at room temperature — it ought to almost double in size.  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7.

Dust the risen dough with flour, score lightly along the length of each oval of dough and bake for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 200°C/ fan 180°C/gas mark 6 and baking for a further 25 minutes.  Each oven temperature will vary, so adjust accordingly.

 

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I encourage you to have a go at this recipe as it’s totally delicious and even if it doesn’t turn out how you expected first time – the old saying ‘practice makes perfect’!  I personally have found with making bread, it can’t be rushed and the more I’ve experimented with various types of bread, the more I’ve learnt.  Sometimes you can just feel when it’s going to be a delicious loaf –  with good rise, flavour and texture.  It’s all about putting love into the dough!! Never make bread when your not in the mood!

Nothing quite tastes like your own homemade bread and the satisfaction of achieving and the reward of tucking in!!  I’m continually learning and love to try out new recipes.  So even if you’re new to bread making or a regular – enjoy making these yummy rolls.  I would love to hear any thoughts – if you make bread regularly and your personal favourites.  So get kneading – I recommend it for stress!!

Mairead x

 

Interiors… Hoo’s lifestyle store Glasgow

 

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So it’s been a while… Sometimes your energy is pulled in another direction and we all know in life, we often need to prioritise!  I’ve have many exciting things happen – both within my personal and working live.  As you might already know – I’m a Holistic Wellbeing Therapist and thought it was about time for a new challenge!  So over the recent weeks much of my time and energy has been devoted to training to become  a Weleda Wellbeing Advisor!

Anyway, I’m back and have really missed not blogging (for a couple of months) and sharing all the things which really inspire me and the reason I began blogging!!  So on a recent trip to Scotland I discovered this beautiful interiors store – Hoo’s  located in Glasgow’s famous West end.  I couldn’t resist taking a few quick snaps (as you do)  to share!

Hoo’s stocks unique pieces, which are beautifully curated and sourced from well-loved Scandinavian design houses and emerging, independent designers.  From homewares, accessories, to lifestyle products, to amazing artisan chocolate from Ocelot.  As a huge chocolate fan I can never resist trying something new and I definitely wasn’t disappointed!  Basically, Hoo’s stocked everything I love within a lifestyle store and I could have bought the lot!!

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I absolutely loved this window –  full of beautiful pots and lots of plants, drawing your eye to their newly extended area of the store.  Unfortunately, these pots could not come home with me!

fullsizeoutput_634fullsizeoutput_632fullsizeoutput_665I actually have this particular light in a blue colour and love it.  The owner obviously has a keen eye for interiors and design and has selected pieces which reflect her style and that of her customers.

I always find when visiting cities I love to seek out and enjoy browsing (or purchase!!) independent stores, as I like pick up unique pieces, providing they fit in my suitcase!!  Of course many of the things I really like are too heavy or too big!

So if your planning to trip to Glasgow – or you live near by, Hoo’s store is definitely worth a visit!  Beautiful pieces and affordable – ‘to help you create an individual style within your hoos’!!  Enjoy!

Mairead x

 

 

 

Blogging… a year on and what I’ve learnt!

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We all blog for various reasons and social media is awash with many types and styles of bloggers, some doing it as a hobby and others taking it a bit more serious and possibly or hoping to make it their full-time job!  It’s fiercely competitive in the blogging world and anyone thinking it is an easy and a glamorous life, were you can make lots of money instantly – I think it’s easier said than done!  It all depends on what you want from it, how hard you are prepared to work on your blog and having lots of the right contacts and possibly a few other factors – like age and finding the perfect niche which inspires both you as a blogger and your readers or followers!  Of course not forgetting time – especially if you already have a busy schedule! When you love what you do… it will always shine through!

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When did I began my journey into blogging?

I began blogging just over a year ago, in February 2016, after following many of my favourite bloggers over the past 10 years, when it was a very different in the blogging world back then!  I had planned to start blogging many years ago but kept putting it off.  I guess I was just not ready, or not had the confidence or thought everything needs to be perfect but now I realise if you wait for perfection it will never happen – you would never take the plunge!  I suppose, being a new blogger we may be judged or criticised but hay a year on and I feel much more confident within myself and really have learnt a lot along the way.  I guess I have such a love and passion of food, flowers, interiors and styling and enjoy sharing my finds and a glimpse into my approach…  a simple way of living with the little things which make me smile along the way!

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So why or what made me venture into the world of blogging?

Firstly, I feel I’m a creative type of person and good with my hands (I’m a Holistic Wellbeing Therapist so that works well!!) a visual addict and always enjoyed reading many of my favourite blogs over the years.  However, I was also drawn to blogging as a therapy in bringing myself back to good health after a long period of suffering from depression.  During this period I was in a very dark place and unable to tap into my creative side, even though I knew doing something creative was the best thing in aiding recovery.  Anyway, after many years of suffering I slowly began to feel excited and inspired about creative stuff and thought this is the perfect time to begin blogging, after years of planning!

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I must say it has been an amazing and exciting journey for me and I have discovered a love of photography and styling!!  I don’t really follow many rules, apart from capturing what catches my eye and always follow my heart!  All those periods in my life which were filled with anxiety and depression are now replaced with happy creative thoughts –  thats a result!  So I think its upwards and onwards and so long as I love and enjoy blogging – long may it last!

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What have learnt along the way?

I think I learnt very quickly not to be so hard on myself, focusing on what I truly love and inspires me – finding my little own niche!  Comparing ourselves to others is just destructive, (we all do it in life!) as we all have our unique strengthens and weaknesses.  Its worth remembering, even the most successful bloggers will have doubts, off days and just as many insecurities!  After all is is a learning process and ultimately we should remind ourselves the reason we began blogging!  For me it’s important to be true to myself, so my readers catch a glimpse of my personality!

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What do I use to capture my photos?

Believe it or not, just over a year ago I had never taken any photos, (a complete novess!)  never mind own a camera.  I don’t have anything fancy, just a point and shoot – Panasonic Lumix TZ70, an amazing little camera, but I still have a lot to learn!  I think so many people make the mistake of spending lots on an expensive camera, with all the bells and whistles and often there’s no need, especially when your just starting and learning!  I feel its good to start off small and work your way up, as I personally don’t use half the features.  I barely vere off using the automatic mode and sometimes I just use my phone – ‘the best camera is the one you have on you’!!  Someone once said to me, you can invest in the best camera and still take poor images and its not the camera its the person behind it!  I must say I really feel like I have progressed in taking photos – I’m definitely no photographer but continually learning and loving this journey of discovery and capturing what inspires me!

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Lastly and by no means least, for all my lovely readers and friends which make the effort to read and follow my little blog and also follow me on Instagram a huge thank you – It really makes me smile inside!!  I hope you enjoy my honesty and content and if you have any thoughts, comments or feedback, then I would love to hear from you all!

Mairead x

Spring time… colour crush and floral love

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‘A little floral eye candy’

Spring has definitely sprung and that means our gardens have suddenly become alive with a burst of colour.  I have a thing for colour and flowers and you guessed it…. I’m on a slight floral frenzy!!   I am fascinated by flowers… the varieties, colours, structure and how they have the ability to affect your mood, adding a ray of sunshine to any room!  After all, who doesn’t love receiving a beautiful bunch of flowers, and by no means do they have to be expensive.  I also get just as much pleasure from picking a few simple stems from my garden, which I have watched grow.

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Flowers remind me of my Mum, she loves her garden and come late spring she will be tidying and planting for lots of summer colour.  My late grandmother also loved her garden and vegetable patch and these fragrant wallflowers always bring me such fond memories of her beautiful garden.

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When it comes to, how or what we display cut flowers, the list is endless and by no means does it have to be the conventional style vase.  I like to think outside the box, perhaps using various types and sizes of;  jugs, mugs, bottles, decorated jam jars, used candle containers or any unusual vessel and so on… I think more ideas on this in another post!

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So I think its time to get to work, on tidying my back garden and make plans to re-organise each and every flowerbed…  If only it were that easy!  If you are a flower lover…  do you have a favourite spring bloom?  Don’t you think flowers have such a magical way of making you feel uplifted and happy!  The more the merrier!  If you have any thoughts or feedback I would love to hear from you!

Mairead x

 

In the kitchen…with Pecan Chocolate Cookies

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As we are approaching March and all diet restrictions are out the window, I thought it was about time for something sweet!  I had some squishy medjool dates which were calling my beckon and I fancied a biscuit with pecan nuts.  So I was on a mission to find a recipe from my stack of baking books!  I came across this delicious sounding recipe from one of my favourite books ‘Short and Sweet’ and baker – Dan Lepard.

This particular recipe used walnuts but I swapped these for pecans, which work well with dates, so – ‘Pecan Chocolate Cookies’ were born!  Also I made a few other tweaks; reducing the vanilla extract and using salted butter.  I  would possibly slightly reduce the sugar levels next time, try and see what suits your own personal taste!  You can also experiment with various combinations, adding chocolate chips, sour cherries, raisins or various nuts.  The worlds your oyster!!

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If you have a love of baking like me, no doubt you will tend to bake your favourites.  So on this occasion I was excited to try a new recipe, and just love when it exceeds my expectations!  I must say these biscuits are or (were!) totally delicious, chewy in the centre, with a toffee and nutty flavour.  The use of dates brought them to another level and they are definitely up there with my favourite bakes!!  If you love toffee, chocolate and nuts then get baking!  You will not be disappointed!

Also if you follow a gluten-free diet then these cookies are perfect as they use cornflour instead of regular flour, making them lighter in texture.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking they are healthy!  We all need treats occasionally, and weekends are a perfect time to enjoy baking.

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Pecan Chocolate Cookies

100g finely chopped dates
100g salted butter, softened/melted
125g brown sugar
125g caster sugar
25g cocoa
1½ tsp vanilla extract
250g cornflour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g pecans, roughly chopped
a pinch of salt (optional)

Method

Put the dates in a bowl, cover with 50ml of boiling water and steep for 5- 10 minutes.  Add the butter and both sugars; beat until light and smooth, and with the soft dates mashed evenly throughout.

Add the cocoa and vanilla, beat again until smooth, add the cornflour, baking powder and soda, and beat well.  Now mix in the pecans.

Line a tray with nonstick baking parchment.  Use your hands to roll into balls, approximately 40g, then press these lightly on to the tray, spaced 5cm apart.

Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan-assisted)/335F/gas mark 3 and bake for 11-13 minutes. Keep an eye as you don’t want to over bake the cookies, as they are best with a soft chewy centre.  Leave the cookies on the tray for five minutes, to cool slightly (if you can resist!) and firm up, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula.  Repeat with the remaining mixture, store it in a tub in the fridge for a few weeks, or roll it into a log, wrap in clingfilm and freeze.

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These cookies are quick and easy to make and best eaten on the day!  Which I don’t  think will be a problem!!   As nothing beats the aroma of homemade cookies and you will not be disappointed with these delicious morsels!  I love to eat them slightly warm from the oven, with a cup of Rooibos tea and I’m one satisfied lady!  Happy weekend baking and I would love to hear any comments.  Enjoy!

Mairead x

In the kitchen… vegetable and sweet potato curry with chickpeas, coconut and fresh turmeric

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So it’s almost mid February and Spring is on the horizon!  However, there is still a chill in the air and the days yet short, so I’m craving for some warming and comfort food!  As a vegetarian, curries are my first choice, they are full of flavour, nutritious, delicious and just whats needed on a cold and wet February day!   The the inspiration for this particular recipe came from one of my favourite vegetarian blogs, the creative duo behind – Green Kitchen Stories – a  husband and wife team and author of two beautifully styled books!

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One of the main reasons I love to make this curry so often, is I enjoy the fresh, earthy aroma and vibrancy of ‘turmeric root’, combine that with ‘creamed coconut’ and it’s delicious!   I also, always have seem to have some which needs used up!  Turmeric has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and immune boosting but more on this little root another time.  However a quick note – make sure and wear gloves when grating turmeric, otherwise you will be left with yellow/orange hands!

As with any curry it is so easy to play around with flavour combinations and adapt to your preferred taste.  If you have have some vegetables to use up then these are perfect or use what you enjoy.  It’s the beauty of cooking and especially making curries, no two dishes will rarely taste the same, unless you follow a recipe strictly!  In this instance I used green beans as spinach is currently not available!  My husband loves chilli so he likes to add a little more on top for that extra heat!  The resulting dish is creamy, sweet with warm and spicy notes. Comfort in a bowl!

Just a note, when using spices I always buy seeds and only grind when needed.  They have a much more fresh and pungent flavour and no comparison to the ground stuff!

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Vegetable and Sweet Potato Curry with Chickpeas, Coconut and fresh Turmeric

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic
¼-½ tsp chilli flakes (depending on how spicy you like it!)
1 knob of ginger root, large thumb size piece
2 tbsp fresh  turmeric, grated ( I use 2 pieces of
1 tsp ground cumin
2 sweet potatoes
1 broccoli
1 cauliflower, small
2 cans (800 ml) coconut milk (or use 200g creamed coconut and add 800ml water)
1 can of chickpeas, good quality
2 large handfuls fresh spinach
sprinkle of nigella seeds

Serve with

a large handful cashew nuts,  roasted
fresh coriander, chopped
½ lime, juice

Fashion – what style means to me

 

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Via Glaminspire

Hi everyone, this was the first blog post I had written away back in February last year but has been sitting ever since, unpublished.  So now that I have been blogging for a while I feel able to express my views on fashion.  From a young age I have always been fascinated by fashion, from trying on clothes to looking at fashion magazines.  Any money I saved from summer work I used to buy nice clothes and Vogue magazines.

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Via Glaminspire

For me style is not always about dressing up, you can be wearing something very casual but still look stylish.  It is about wearing what feels comfortable to you and what suits your body shape, not what’s currently ‘on trend’, it may not even look good and you just become a fashion victim.  If you feel good then you exube confidence!

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Via Glaminspire

Each of us have our own individual style and that is what makes us unique and interesting.  I feel it’s good not to take ourselves too seriously when it comes to fashion and dress with a bit of whit, I guess the unexpected!

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Via Glaminspire

I tend to love structured clothes, plain and understated but with a shot of colour and a creative edge to inject some fun and add interest.  We all tend to have certain colours we are drawn to and choose similar whether it be fashion or interiors.  My colours are blues and I especially love cobalt blue and mustard tones.  I tend to favour an Autumn/Winter wardrobe, which is much more suitable to our cooler climate, preferring earthy and deeper tones.

Oliver Bonas & via Glaminspire

I believe fashion should be about expressing your individuality, rather than always following trends and becoming carbon copies of each other.  There are no rules, so embrace, experiment, be confident and happy in your fashion choices!  Are you a fashion lover? Do you follow the latest trends or just have your own personal style?

Mairead x

 

 

 

Embracing calmness… minimal fuss interiors

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Cereal

Hi everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful and restful Christmas and now ready to embrace the year ahead!  I have been somewhat slow on the New Year uptake, but a rested body is much more creative and productive mind!

As much as I adore the Christmas period, I love the calmness and stillness which January brings, with minimal fuss.  We have time to breathe, reflect, pare back and strip down all the unnecessary, in all aspects of our lives.

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Melo

So the decorations are well and truly packed away and our homes are looking a little less atmospheric… minus all those twinkly lights!  However, I see this as a perfect opportunity to reconfigure our interior spaces and make simple changes in the overall look and feel of our homes.

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The Design Chaser

As much as I love dark moody colour tones with an eclectic mix, I’m also drawn towards uncluttered,  minimal interior spaces, with clean lines, soft shapes and muted tones.  They just ooze elegance, simplicity and inject a serene and calm feeling into our homes.  So with this in mind I have collated some of my coveted personal favourites.  One can only but dream!

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The Design Hunter

How about this stunning living area, a Scandinavian getaway in Linköping, Sweden.  The introduction of a mustard throw brings a splash of colour and adds interest to this beautiful and restful space.

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Melo

Handcrafted Swedish minimalism… aesthetically humble and beautifully designed.  I am swooning after this amazing dinning table which would work perfectly with my Hay chairs! I think i will need to settle for less on this occasion!

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The Design Hunter

I love this simple approach, using a pale but interesting colour palette with accents of copper accessories and a monochrome wall of art.  So if you fancy a change its very easy to add a pop of colour, depending on your mood or time of year.

Melo

If you crave muted tones and that uncluttered feeling in your home, then this interior no doubt will calm the senses and soothe the soul.  However, I wonder how long they would remain in such a beautiful pristine state!  Kid-free zones I would think!

Are you very strict on your interior choices? Only choosing a particular style or are you more adventurous and like to experiment with various colours, moods and styles!  I hope this gets the creative juices flowing and inspires you to make some changes!  Enjoy and have fun!!

Mairead x

 

Festive… table styling ideas

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House Doctor

Hi readers, so this will be my last post of 2016 and its time for some rest…  to indulge in doing very little!  Its official Christmas has arrived!  How did that happen so quickly and it has almost caught me off guard!  I haven’t even given much thought as to how I would like to decorate my table this year, normally I’m much more organised.  So in a last minute dash I was in search of much inspiration and there is definitely no shortage of ideas on table styling!

I would like to share some of my favourite table style ideas for the festive period, from the minimal scandi style, to bringing a touch of nature, to adding some sparkle, through to a more glamorous and dramatic look.  It’s a perfect opportunity to get in touch with your creative side, injecting some of your individual personality into the overall style.  So grab yourself a warming drink, or a tipple saying its Christmas and enjoy the browse!

‘festive…  table styling ideas’

House Doctor

 

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The White Company

 

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The White Company

 

Neptune

 

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Broste Copenhagen

 

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Rockett St George

 

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Rockett St George

May you all have have a restful Christmas and peaceful New Year and 2017 is filled with lots of fun, laughter and it brings you peace and good health.  See you all in the new year with lots more creative inspiration… from interiors to foodie stuff and much more!  How exciting!!

Mairead x

Festive foodie delights… Ginger and Spelt Cookies

 

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Hi  Everyone, this is not a traditional festive bake, but if your a ginger fan then you will totally love these Spelt and Ginger Cookies…  warming, spicy, with a chewy texture and a nutty flavour from the spelt flour.  Yum!!  Nothing beats the delightful aroma of freshly baked cookies around Christmas time, or any time, to tickle those taste buds!!  So some cookies were in order!

These buttery deliciousness is a recipe from the amazing baker – Dan Lepard  from his book ‘Short and Sweet’, an old favourite of mine, full of both sweet and bread recipes. I have made these particular cookies many times and they never fail to disappoint.  Although I am always tempted to vary the recipe, perhaps adding different spices, like cinnamon or mixed spice, especially around Christmas time.  I think next time I shall use maple syrup instead of golden syrup as it gives a deeper flavour and not just as sweet.  I also always add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavour and balance the sweetness.  I guess its all down to your own personal taste.  Just have fun experimenting with your favourite sugars and spices and await the outcome!

Spelt and Ginger Cookies

50g  unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
50g light soft brown sugar
50g golden syrup
50g stem ginger, drained, chopped into small chunks
1 egg yolk
150g spelt flour
1tsp ground ginger
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt

Method

Heat the oven to 200°c/180°c fan/390°F.  Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.

Warm the butter, golden syrup and stem ginger in a saucepan until the butter has melted.  Remove from the heat and beat in the two sugars and then the egg yolk followed by the flour, ground ginger and bicarb.  Stir to a soft dough.

Place teaspoon size balls onto the  baking sheet, spaced 6-8cm apart, as they spread when baking. Bake in batches for between 7-8 minutes until they puff up like macaroons with a golden tinge around the edges.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool on a rack while you bake the remaining mixture.  If you can resist not having a nibble!

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These little cookies are so quick to rustle up, no creaming or sifting, just melting, mix and combine! Easy peasy!!  Perfect if your looking for something different to bake around Christmas, other than shortbread.  Also make excellent gifts for those foodie friends who like something sweet.  Happy baking, experimenting and enjoy!

Mairead x