Michelle Darmody: Using more unusual types of flour

Michelle Darmody: Using more unusual types of flour

There has been a much publicised run on flour in the shops. Many people have been left with the last bags on the shelves, or website shopping cart. These bags are often spelt or rye flours rather than what are more usual wheat varieties.

Both spelt and rye are delicious and nutritious but they are a little different to bake with than wheat. Firstly they do not rise as readily. Wheat contains quite an amount of gluten which gives it its elasticity. Both spelt and rye are also nuttier in taste and coarser in texture than wheat.

Michelle Darmody: Using more unusual types of flour

The rye cracker recipe is made with nigella seeds, as that is what I had in my cupboard the day I was testing the recipe, but you can use any seeds. Linseeds are a good alternative, as are sesame.

I have a fondness for nigella seeds as I am intrigued by the fact that they were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. It is magical to think of these seeds lasted through the centuries to be uncovered so many years later. By using them in recipes I think of the connection to this ancient Egyptian king and of how food and recipes weave through history.

There is a slight onion flavour to the small black nigella seeds. I usually toast them lightly and sprinkle them on rice or use them when making flat breads. They last very well and keep their flavour for a long time, which helps if you are using them sparingly.

Lemon spelt biscuits

Michelle Darmody: Using more unusual types of flour
Freshly baked Lemon spelt biscuits

Ingredients:

175g of spelt flour

½ tsp of baking powder

100mls of olive oil

The zest of three lemons

100g of honey

Method:

Preheat an oven to 190 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment.

Sieve the baking powder into the flour and mix it well. Add the oil, lemon zest and honey and mix it until it forms a dough.

Spoon about a soup spoon of the dough onto the tray. These cookies will spread on the tray so it is good to leave space between each one.

Bake for 15 minutes until turning golden.

Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Almond Biscuits

Michelle Darmody: Using more unusual types of flour
Almond biscuits paired with a cuppa

These little almond biscuits could not be easier to make and give you all of that intoxicating almond flavour you get from amoretto or even macarons without the hassle that making those particular fancy French or Italian delicacies suggest.

Ingredients:

250g ground almonds

200g caster sugar

1 tbsp of honey

1 tbsp of jam (apricot, apple or marmalade are best)

2 eggs separated

1 tsp of vanilla essence (use almond extract if you wish)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds and sugar. Add the egg yolks, honey, jam and vanilla essence and stir into the almonds and sugar. Add enough of the egg white to form a nice firm dough.

Using your hands, form the dough into two sausages, around 1.5 inches thick. Wrap in beeswax paper or parchment and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Line a large baking tray with parchment and cut half inch size biscuits from the sausage placing them on the baking tray, nicely spaced out. You will probably need to do them in batches.

Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes, until just starting to turn golden brown around the edges.

Cool the biscuits on a wire rack before eating.

Rye crackers with nigella seeds

Ingredients:

300g of rye flour

½ tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of fine sea salt

30g of butter, cubed

170mls of warm water

2 tsp of nigella seeds

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and line two baking trays with parchment.

Sieve the baking powder and salt into the flour and mix it well. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the warm water and seeds and bring the dough together.

Divide the dough into four and roll the first quarter on a surface sprinkled with a generous amount of rye flour. Roll it as thin as possible. Cut the crackers with a sharp knife and lay them onto the baking tray. Prick each cracker with a fork. They do not spread when being baked so you can have them sitting quite close together.

Do the same with the second quarter. Bake the two trays of crackers for 12 minutes and remove them onto a wire rack.

Repeat with the second two balls of cracker dough.


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