I know it’s not very modern but I had a quiet couple of days this week. Yes, that’s right, I wasn’t rushing around like a mad thing; I pottered about, mainly at home, and it was lovely. Such days are rare, although admittedly a little less rare now only one of my sons lives here permanently.
That’s not to say I was idle. My activities included the following; cleaning bathrooms; laundry; ironing shirts; meeting a friend for coffee (one of my favourite pursuits); having a friend over for coffee (different friend, different day); tweeting (Twitter was rather compelling on Wednesday, following Mr Cameron’s “bunch of migrants” remark); walking the dog; vacuuming my mother-in-law’s flat (despite being nearly 91 she insists on doing housework but I help out occasionally); cooking (Middle Eastern lentils and rice was delicious); watching the celebrity Great British Bake-Off (I thought Samantha Cameron was lovely and – spoiler alert – a deserving winner); baking cookies. I fear it all sounds terribly dull to you, but I enjoy days like that: they are a chance to catch one’s breath.
The cookies I baked were these:
Cardamom and Lemon Cookies
The recipe is on the BBC website * and is by the Hairy Bikers, but it was my mother who drew it to my attention. She is Norwegian and always makes Norwegian biscuits in the run-up to Christmas, which she then brings to us when she comes on Christmas Eve. Some recipes she inherited from my grandmother (or “Mommo” as I called her) and have been around for many years, so the Hairy Bikers should be flattered that their recipe met with my mother’s approval. She enjoyed watching the programmes they made in Northern Europe (I must admit I only caught one or two of them). There is something special about baking things from recipes that have been passed down the generations. My eldest son adores his great grandmother’s Lebkuchen (a Christmas treat originally from Germany) recipe and he and his girlfriend make them together. In fact, they made a batch while they were with us over Christmas but I’m not ready to write about them yet because it was difficult to work out which Aga oven(s) to use and how long to bake them for.
You might be surprised to learn that cardamom is not just a spice for curries but is widely used in Scandinavian baking. On the other hand, with the huge interest nowadays in all things Nordic, whether it be food or Noir TV series, you might not be in the least surprised!
As you can see from my Instagram photo above, I did not use a cookie stamp as described in the recipe; I simply pressed a fork onto the balls of dough to flatten them slightly before they went in the oven.
Hairy Bikers’ Cardamom and Lemon Cookies
- 225g butter, softened
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 250g plain flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 3 tsp ground cardamom or 1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar
- Preheat conventional oven to 190ºC
- Line 2 baking trays with bake-o-glide** or baking parchment
- Using an electric hand-whisk or food mixer (I used my KitchenAid), beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until pale and fluffy
- Beat in the flour, almonds and cardamom until the mixture is well combined and comes together to form a stiff dough
- Roll the dough into 24 balls and place 12 on each baking tray, making sure you leave space between each one
- Press a fork onto the balls of dough to flatten them slightly
- Bake, one tray at a time, in the middle of the Aga baking oven, for 14 minutes until the cookies are pale and golden.
- Leave them to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack
* I updated this post today, 17 May 2016, following the news that the BBC was going to close its food website. It’s therefore likely that the above link will soon no longer work.
**I always use bake-o-glide on my baking trays. It’s brilliant stuff: non-stick and can go in the dishwasher. I buy it via the Aga Cookshop website.
When my youngest son returned from his run yesterday afternoon he was very pleased to find something home-baked and sweet to aid his recovery.