Walnut & Date Scones

Walnut & Date Scones | Selma's TableI was leafing through some magazines at the dentist’s the other day, more as a distraction than anything else, trying hard to quell the rising panic in my throat that this particular branch of health care seems to provoke in me. All I could think about as I nervously leafed through those pages was whether I was going to walk out or be brave and see the appointment through. Thankfully the drill was silent or I would have most probably left. You will laugh if I tell you that it was for a scale and polish but there is something about that clinical smell, the clang of sharp instruments, the sound of that God awful suction machine and that big bright overhead lamp that just makes my skin crawl and reduces me to a whimpering child. I got through it, of course I did, but not without a great deal of trepidation first. If anyone deserved a star, a sticker and obviously a gold medal, it was me, I can tell you.

Walnut & Date Scones | Selma's TableSomehow, despite the rising panic in that waiting room, I registered a picture of walnut topped pastries that popped back in my head when I got home. Well, Celia’s International Scone Week had got it’s hold on me so I had a rummage in the pantry and made these scones based on the Feta, Sun dried Tomato and Thyme Scones I posted last week. This time round, I separated the wedges which made them bake faster and added chopped walnuts and dates to the flour mixture. To heighten the walnut flavour, I also added a little walnut oil to the dough. They are really lovely with a soft cheese and quince or fig jam. The dates lend just enough of  a hint of sweetness that goes so well with walnuts. Remember to handle the dough as little as possible to ensure that you have a nice crumbly scone.

Walnut and Date Scones

  • Servings: 8 scones
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 225 g plain flour/AP flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • pinch fine salt
  • 50 g chopped walnuts
  • 50 g chopped ready to eat dates
  • 30 ml Mrs Middleton’s rapeseed or a light olive oil
  • 20 ml walnut oil
  • 125 ml milk
  • a little extra milk to glaze
  • 8 walnut halves to decorate

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 225 C/ 440F. Line baking sheet with baking parchment and sprinkle over a little flour.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt really well to make sure that all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. Stir in the chopped walnuts and dates ensuring that all are well coated in flour. This stops them sinking to the bottom.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the oils and the milk.
  5. Using the table knife and a light hand, mix in the bowl until the flour has been incorporated.
  6. Lightly flour or oil your fingers and push into a ball shape in the mixing bowl then turn out straight onto the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Pat down gently into a circular shape until it is 1 inch in height.
  8. Using a pizza wheel or a knife, cut into 8 triangles.
  9. Pull the wedges apart and brush the tops with a little milk. Set a walnut half on top of each one.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes until golden

Lovely served warm, with a little blue cheese and membrillo (quince paste) or brie/goats cheese and fig jam.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Spiced Orange & Honey Cake – Sugar Free

Spiced Orange & Honey CakeMy friends’ adorable baby girl, Olive (just look at those cheeks!), turned 1 last week and her mother, Danna, asked me if I would make the birthday cake. Now, birthday cakes are something that I have made a lot of over the years for Jake as well as the children of friends and neighbours. There have been dinosaurs, ships, butterflies, bears, football pitches, stars, numbers….The most memorable and completely ridiculous year was when Jake turned 4 and I made one to take to his Nursery school, another for the birthday party at home and one for the children’s party in a church hall. Making and decorating 3 cakes is fairly deranged but one of them was a train with 2 wagons, made completely from scratch and which nearly gave me  nervous breakdown! I finished decorating it at about 4 am…utter madness even if it was rather spectacular!

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake | Selma's TableDana asked me to make a sugar free cake as she has managed to keep Olive away from refined sugar thus far. Well, thank goodness for the trend in “naked” cakes – that took care of the icing, but what about the cake itself? A little research led me to birch sugar with the rather unfortunate and chemical sounding name of Xylitol – the name is actually derived from the Greek word for tree – “xyl”. It is a naturally occurring sugar, found in birch, berries and corn husks. Xylitol has a Glycemic Index of only 7 which is 10 times lower than sugar and 4 times lower than fructose; it has 40% less calories than sugar and 75% less carbs and looks and tastes just like sugar. It is used in exactly the same quantities as sugar.

So I planned to make a naked Honey Cake, layered with whipped cream and berries, but then realised that would be tricky to put together as the party was taking place in the gorgeous gardens of The Telegraph, a stylish country pub in Putney. So in the end, I used my patterned Bundt pan and served slices of the cake with organic ginger Greek yoghurt and blueberries.  Just before bringing it out, it was lightly dusted with a tiny amount of icing sugar and decorated it with edible butterfly wafers and flowers by Alex, a very sweet young chap who is 4 – didn’t he do a wonderful job?

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake | Selma's TableThis recipe is an adaptation from Marcy Goldman’s Treasures of Jewish Holiday Baking and Deb Perlman’s Majestic and Moist Honey Cake. I have cut back on the sweetness and the spicing, adjusted the leavening and added orange zest to the batter for more flavour.  You could of course make the cake with regular caster and brown sugar if you wanted to. As an added bonus, the smell of this cake baking will make your house smell incredible!

I ended up having to make it twice. Disaster struck the first time as I didn’t grease the tin properly and the cake stuck to the pan and broke coming out of it. It was, however, really delicious and moist which I was really happy with and Spiced Orange & Honey CakeJake took it to a picnic he was going to so it wasn’t wasted. The second time, I not only greased the tin, but also floured it which highlighted the spots I had missed – easy to do on these patterned tins.

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake | Selma's TableThe cake is so easy to make – mix together the flours, raising agents and spices, make a well, pour in the sugars and wet ingredients, beat, pour into the tin and bake. It couldn’t be simpler. Just make sure that you grease your tin properly!!

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake | Selma's Table

This week, I am thrilled to be co-hosting Fiesta Friday #29 with my old partner in crime, Jhuls @ Not So Creative Cook. We are throwing a pool party over at Angie’s this week.  Come, dressed in your most glamourous poolside lounging gear and let’s celebrate the wonderful summer we have been having. I’m the one in the white linen, bejewelled caftan, huge floppy hat and the rhinestone flip flops!

If you have Fiesta’d then you know what to do. If you haven’t, it’s really easy;

  1. Write a post – it doesn’t have to be about food but it should be a new one for the party.
  2. Add the link from Angie’s Fiesta Friday #29 post (http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/mille-crepe-cake-fiesta-friday-29/) to your post together with a line or two about the party.
  3. Finally click on the purple Fiesta Friday “click to join” button which will take you to the linky page so that you can add your link to the party page.

I’m probably not making much sense so read the guidelines here – http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

Jhuls and I would be over the moon to see you at our Fiesta. If you are new to blogging, Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. So, put on your most fabulous pool party gear  and join the party!!! Mix and mingle with all the guests, follow and leave comments too – it is the friendliest party around! Click over to Angie’s post for FF#29 to join the party or click on the button below.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-click-to-join1

 

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake

  • Servings: 12-16
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 235 ml warm strong black tea (I used 2 rooibos teabags)
  • 440 g  plain/AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • 3 tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 235ml mild flavoured vegetable oil (I use Olivio)
  • 340g/1 jar of honey
  • 225 g Total Sweet (xylitol – a wood or birch sugar – replaces refined cane sugar)
  • 60 g coconut/palm sugar/jaggery  (brown sugar replacement)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 100-12o ml of orange juice (which is approximately the juice from one orange)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Make the tea and set aside to steep.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/350 F
  3. Grease a 25 cm/10 inch Bundt tin thoroughly especially if patterned. Pop into the fridge for a few minutes, then flour it, which will also highlight any spots you have missed. Grease the entire inside of the tin as this cakes rises magnificently. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  4. Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl, then add the baking powder and soda, the salt and the spices. Whisk really well to mix and aerate, then make a well in the middle of it.
  5. Pour/add in the rest of the ingredients (the oil, the honey, the tea (squeezing the teabags to extract as much flavour as you can out of them), the xylitol, the palm sugar, the eggs, the vanilla and the orange juice and zest).
  6. Set the hand mixer on the lowest speed and mix until really well blended. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to ensure that all the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
  7. Pour this very liquid batter into the prepared baking tin.
  8. Set the tin onto 2 baking sheets (this ensures that the cake cooks evenly as the batter is so liquid)
  9. Place in the oven and set the timer for 50 minutes. Check to see how it is coming along and cover loosely with aluminium foil if it is starting to catch and burn – let your sense of smell guide you too.
  10. Set timer for 10 more minutes then use a wooden skewer to ensure that it is cooked all the way through. Both times, mine took exactly 60 minutes to bake.
  11. Let the cake set in the tin, on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then place a wire rack over the top of the tin and flip it over. Give it a gentle shake and the cake should detach itself easily from the tin.
  12. The cake tastes better the next day, after it has had a chance to mature.
  13. Serve with Honey or Ginger flavoured Greek yoghurt and some blueberries or enjoy a slice plain with a cup of tea.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.