Bake with Michelle Darmody: Baking with seeds can provide us with nourishment

Picture: Michelle Darmody. Picture: Picture by Fergal Phillips.

Seeds contain the beginnings of a plant or tree, they are tiny capsules of life that when nourished grow and expand. Seeds can also can provide us with nourishment.

They add texture and sometimes flavour to cooking and baking — being an excellent source of fibre I always add a few handfuls to homemade bread or sprinkle some over my morning cereal or on a salad in the evening.

Some seeds such as chia or flax change properties when soaked in water for a little while. They become slightly gelatinous. Other seeds like mung beans or mustard seeds can be sprouted before adding to salads.

This changes the flavour — they are fresher and stronger tasting than the dried versions. Sesame seeds have a distinct flavour and are full of calcium. Black sesame seeds have a more subtle flavour than their more widely used golden counterparts and can add a dramatic colour contrast to cakes and cookies.

Black sesame are added to the crispy cracker recipe included here, but if you want to use another type of sesame seed feel free. The crackers come out of the oven as one big sheet and snap once cooled. It is best to score the unbaked sheet of cracker with a knife, if you want evenly sized crackers. It means you have ridges that help you make clean breaks or alternatively you can shatter the large sheet and have long shards of cracker. These look great in bowl alongside some dips, and everyone will know you made them yourself.

People all around me are fighting off colds and sniffles at the moment and the seed bars or muffins help provide a tasty treat that is also packed with some goodness. The bars last a few days in an airtight container but the muffins are best eaten on the first day or so.

Crispy flax seed crackers

170g of ground flaxseed

1 tbsp of golden flax seeds

1 tbsp of chia seeds

1 tsp of black sesame seeds

130 mls of water

A generous pinch of sea salt

3 tsp of za’atar spice

Place the flax seeds in just enough warm water to cover then and set aside for about

20 minutes. Cover the chia seeds with just enough room temperature water to cover them and also set them aside to soak for about twenty minutes.

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees and line a large flat baking tray with parchment.

Mix together the ground flax seeds and water until completely combined, add in the soaked flax and chai seeds and stir them in. Add the sesame seeds, salt and spices until they are also mixed through.

Scoop the mixture onto the baking tray and spread it as thinly as possible. You can smooth it with wet fingers if this is the easiest.

You can decide what shape you want your final crackers to be at this stage. Score the flat sheet of cracker with a knife, this will allow you to make clean breaks when you are snapping them later, after baking.

Bake for about half an hour until crisp. Allow to cool completely on the tray and then crack along your scored lines.

Seed and peanut butter bars

110g of honey

150g of peanut butter

200g porridge oats

75g pumpkin seeds

50g mixed seeds

The zest of two oranges

120g of dates, destoned and finely chopped

Line a tin that is approximately 12 x 9in with baking parchment and set aside.

Place the peanut butter and honey into a heavy based saucepan and melt them together over a very low heat, stirring as they melt.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl and then stir in the peanut butter mixture until everything is completely combined.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared tray and smooth down the surface. Press the mixture as flat as possible.

Place into your fridge for at least two hours then cut into slices.

Mixed seed and date muffins

180g of spelt flour

1 tsp of bread soda, sieved

3 tsp of ground cinnamon

370 mls of butter milk

110 mls of olive oil

1 egg lightly beaten

150g of granola

10g of sunflower seeds

10g of poppy seeds

30g of wheatgerm

The zest of 4 oranges

70g of golden caster sugar

120g of dates, de-stoned and finely chopped

A handful of pumpkin seeds for sprinkling

Add all the ingredients, except the pumpkin seeds, into a large bowl. Stir them well until completely combined. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight. Heat your oven to 180 degrees and place twelve paper cases into a cupcake tin. Divide the mixture between the cases and sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds. Bake for 20 minutes or until baked through. Place onto a wire rack when the muffins are cool enough to handle.

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