Short and Tweet Challenge 12: Spelt and ginger cookies, Rye and raisin cookies

This week’s #shortandtweet challenge from Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet was for Cookie Monsters everywhere who are feeling the need for some options now supplies of their “sometime food” from the holiday season have finally run out: Rye and raisin cookies pg 247 or Spelt and ginger cookies pg 245. I’m a tad ambivalent about cookies as I rarely eat them and I never bite into a softish one without the apprehension that it’s actually stale. However, this is not an ambivalence the household shares and (thankfully) is a non-issue among the neighbours to whom we pass on the baked goods.

@BakeCakeCrumbs of Cake, Crumbs and Cooking tweaked the sugar content and size of the cookies: Spelt ginger cookies and Rye and raisin cookies. Both of these were a hit although there are some slight bakers’ niggles as to why subsequent batches of the rye and raisin spread more after the batter had stood during the first bake-off and whether the late addition of bicarb might contribute to the spread. Overall, however, although the rye flour had been viewed with some suspicion: “I was prepared not to like the rye and raisin cookies…I was pleasantly surprised because these were delicious. The rye, raisin and chocolate blended really well flavourwise, and the texture of slightly crispy and sugary and then chewy raisin was great”.

As with several other bakers in the challenge, the spelt and ginger cookies garnered a rhapsody of delight: “I had a couple almost straight out of the oven and they were utterly delicious - slightly crispy edges and a great chewy centre, gently spiced with ginger and lovely little nubbles of stem ginger to add a bit of bite. My only regret was that after only a couple of days they had softened significantly and were just chewy without the delicious contrast of crispness round the edge that I had so enjoyed the first day. I wonder if they could be re-crisped in the oven?” I didn’t keep any so if anybody else can answer this question, that would be Good to Know.

@TonyInga of Pane Artigiano likewise baked both cookies (as @BakeCakeCrumbs suspected, I had noted that they nicely used up a whole egg between them, with a yolk in one and a white in the other). There are several eminently desirable photographs in his Flickr Cookies Galore photostream and Tony tweeted that they were “scrumptious”. @CarlLegge of Carl Legge opted for the same flavour pairing as I did: Spelt, ginger and cardamom cookies. In the comments, Carl makes a good case when posed with the conundrum of whether there is rhyme or reason to when something is best termed a biscuit or a cookie. @CarlLegge remarked: “I just love using spelt in baking” and this affection for a flour seems to be spreading. @tomasi_carla reports that she is entirely smitten after baking with spelt flour. Carla has a set of photographs that look as if they’re a spread for an interior design shoot. There is great enthusiasm for the spelt and ginger which even made an appearance at breakfast, sandwiching a banana slice.

The rye cookies look remarkably come hither with the addition of a walnut streusel topping (an idea I may well be adopting in the near future). Please welcome @BakerHay to #shortandtweet. I’m delighted by the casual note to Heather’s photo in which she mentions that she used “hubby’s homemade stem ginger”. Between the people who made their own vinegar and used it for last week’s cider vinegar muffins and now homemade stem ginger, I occasionally have the nagging feeling that I’m not really trying. Welcome back to the industrious @underthebluegum of Under the Blue Gum Tree who also baked both recipes: Short and Tweet: ‘Spelt and Ginger’ and ‘Rye and Raisin’ Cookies. There are several useful baking notes: “Both recipes were a breeze to make…Don’t be tempted to overcook them – they are ready when the outer edge is firm to the touch but the middle is still very soft and looks undercooked”. And there are thoughtful opinions on the appropriate place for these recipes in the hierarchy of baked goods: “Dan’s cookies are cookies of virtue, upping the fibre content with spelt and rye flours and packed with wholesome raisins and ginger. They are the sort of cookies that you would find in a wholefood’s café somewhere between the gluten free muffins and the beetroot brownies. The sort of cookies you could happily put in your kid’s lunch box without risking the wrath of Mr Oliver”.

It was unexpectedly restful to see a post from @lapindor of Lapin d’Or and More because of the charming photographs of her walk to work - what a remarkably tranquil start to the day wherever practical. The title of the post sums up the reaction of most of us: Cannot Eat Just One: Spelt & Ginger Cookies and the overall verdict is, “they are really moreish and hard to resist one after another once you taste them”. Jane used a duck egg yolk and I’d be curious as to whether this affects the texture or sense of richness in a noticeable way. (Digression: there’s been some recent research speculation that fat should be considered another taste sense. I don’t know but I think it’s a provocative finding that might bear further exploration.)

@Mitchdafish of Mitchadafish blog was in rather playful mood after her delight that the spelt and ginger cookies had baked so well (Mitchdafish observed family preferences and omitted the stem ginger but it doesn’t seem to have affected the bake). @jerronimmissus of Jerronimissus attempted the spelt and ginger cookies but reported that they turned into delicious brandysnap style cookies (big and flat, presumably lacy) after two attempts. We tweeted a couple of exchanges about why this might be and @jerronimmissus is planning to purchase an oven thermometer but it would be very helpful if other bakers had some ideas as to what might have happened. (Without starting down a veritable warren, there is substantial controversy in the baking world about issues such as the appropriate temperature of butter when making cookies and for how long the butter and sugar should be creamed but because of the melted method, that usual sticking point wasn’t an issue here so I’m short on suggestions.)

Like several others, I baked both of these recipes and although most of them were re-distributed soon after cooling I have strong suspicions that more of the spelt and ginger disappeared en route than the rye cookies. Similarly to several bakers, I weighed out the spelt and ginger mixture to 15g balls but only obtained 26 and a bit cookies. However, one would need 525g of mix to make 35x15g of cookies and I didn’t have a mix of that size (mine was nearer 430g). Like @CarlLegge, I added cardamom to this mix because I need to grind some for a curry and thought I might as well use grind a little extra as we’re partial to it. I added a touch of cardamom and some orange extract to the rye and raisin cookies. The initial reaction was that these additions made the raw mix taste like a famous Chocolate Orange but I wasn’t too sure what would happen after the bake. I can confidently report, however, than a 2 day old rye and raisin cookie is still nicely chewy with a crisp bite through the surface and the flavour has matured nicely. First taste response to the scarcely cooled cookie was that it was far too sweet but this no longer seems to be the case. (I’m firmly resisting the temptation to digress into the vexed question of whether most cookie/biscuit batters are better for being matured for up to 36hrs before baking.) I should mention that I also made the Oat and sour cherry cookies (pg 248) during the cookie marathon and that these were a tremendous success (because I had the spelt flour out, I used half white spelt and half plain flour). In the spirit of partial disclosure, I include another clip from Cookie Monster and mention my extreme partiality for sour cherries, particularly when soaked in a little cherry extract or Amaretto.

It’s increasingly apparent that #shortandtweet search doesn’t always show everyone’s tweets so I apologise if I missed any notifications - please let me know and I’ll update this compilation. The compilation may also be delayed while I try to sort out some technical glitches with some of the images.

Next week’s challenge recipes are Spinach and ricotta pasties pg 538 or Buckwheat onion kugel pg 539. If you blog about your experience with a recipe, please post links in the comments or tweet pictures or links to @foodcraftspace or @evidencematters using the hashtag #shortandtweet - Thank you. It’s the same procedure if you don’t blog but just post a photograph of your work. Please send the links by 8pm 29 January or as soon thereafter as practical.

Schedule for the #shortandtweet February 2012 challenge.

Outline for #shortandtweet challenge and its conditions. Thank you to everyone for taking part. I look forward to seeing next week’s savouries to liven up the end of the month.