Life Happened, and So I Made Cookies Instead (and then ate 2)

Welcome, friends.

I know I promised you a recipe for a cake today. A carrot-y, nutty, moist, gluten-free carrot loaf that makes a rather pleasant breakfast for both rushed mornings and calm; however, when I tested the recipe (and my memory as I hadn’t written the recipe down the first time I made the loaf) the result was, well, tasty but just a little lack-lustre. (if you really want a breakfast-appropriate loaf cake see here, here, and here; or, go for these scrolls if you have the time)

And lustre is something that a thoroughly nourished life (and, by extension, a thoroughly nourished recipe) should never lack. So, in the spirit of fortitude (and greed) I turned to a cookie for comfort. Upon first bite the skies cleared (actually no, it was raining), the roses bloomed, and all was well in the world again. All memory of the (almost) failed carrot cake was gone.

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I am sure that when you taste these you will agree that a cookie is a great comfort in a world where sometimes your cake recipe kinda sucks, or you get a run in your stockings when you hop out of your car at work, or you spill your tea all over your laptop and printer minutes before you have to call a patient (hello 9am), or you forget to return your library books for the third week in a row (hello 11am), or sleep in an hour past your alarm and your boyfriend only makes it to work 15 minutes before his boss (hello Thursday morning).

A cookie reminds you that despite these (rather minor) disasters this is also a world where you have jam to make the cake (or anything really) taste better, no-one expects you to wear stockings and if you have hairy legs people shouldn’t be looking that close anyway, your patients are sweet and understanding and your laptop is somehow miraculously semi-waterproof, the library understands that you have never (like, ever) returned a book on time in your entire 22-year library history, and your boyfriend’s boss doesn’t care that he was 15 minutes late (and your own co-worker – the sweetest Jenny – makes sure you get a coffee just as you are about to defenestrate your computer, which you can’t anyway because you have a window-less office).

Cookies are good. Life is good.

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Softly-Comforting Coconut and Sultana Cookies

Makes about 14 cookies. You can use 100 grams of plain flour in place of the rice and coconut flours if you do not need these to be gluten-free. They will be just as delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 75 grams butter, softened
  • 60 grams brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/3 cup moist shredded coconut (use dessicated if you can’t find this)
  • 80 grams almond meal
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup sultanas

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two baking sheets with baking paper – now you’re all set, time to get mixing.
  2. In a medium-size mixing bowl weigh in the butter and brown sugar and add vanilla essence and coconut essence. Cream these together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the salt, baking powder, coconut, almond meal, brown rice flour, and coconut flour.
  5. Add flour mix to the egg-and-butter mix and stir until the dough forms.
  6. Sprinkle in the sultanas and mix these through.
  7. Scoop out rounded tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Place on baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Make sure you distance the cookies as they will spread slightly.
  8. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet (you may need to eat one at this point for quality control purposes of course…)
  10. The cookies will keep in  an airtight container for a few days – if they last that long.

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Of course, as a scientist I must give the last word to an expert in the field.

Tell me, dear reader, are you a cookie for comfort person, or cake, or do you have a healthier way of dealing with first-world problems? On a different note, who was your favourite Sesame Street character? (I think we can all guess mine…)

Promise Me This: Gluten-free Coconut Banana Bread

In two weeks she will be gone. Out of the home we have shared for nearly twenty-three years and into her own nest. As I watched them erect the floor, the walls, the roof, and then fill the inside with bathrooms, kitchen, laundry, and every tiny finishing touch, I started to learn how to let go, how to not hold on so tightly. You see, I have held on so tightly, and sometimes when you hold someone that close, they only yearn to be free even more. So I will watch you go, and help you make your new house into the cosy castle you deserve.

Just promise me this. Promise that you will still think of me when you are craving Peanut m&ms. Promise me you won’t watch Steel Magnolias with anyone else. Promise me that you will still come over at Christmas time and help me put up the tree (I can’t do those lights on my own). Promise me that when you have ‘nothing to wear’ you will drive over and steal something from my wardrobe, or text me ‘help’. Promise me that you won’t be too grown-up and responsible to bust out a Beyonce impersonation. Promise me that we will still find time to make cookies together and eat most of the dough before it makes the oven. Promise me that you’ll save a little space in your life, and a little time in your week, just for me.

Little sis and me in the kitchen

Little sis and me in the kitchen

Gluten-free Coconut Banana Bread

Jess and I take slices of this to the markets every Saturday morning for breakfast. Once the cake has cooled, slice into portions and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap, then freeze and remove the night before you would like to eat it for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 80 grams coconut flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 100 grams brown rice flour
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 250mL milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl mash bananas with lemon juice and set aside. This will soften the bananas and stop them from browning as well.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together coconut flour, almond meal, brown rice flour, caster sugar, salt, baking soda, and dessicated coconut.
  4. In a separate bowl beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, coconut essence, and oil. Add bananas and mix to combine.
  5. Add banana and egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Spoon mixture into lined loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Check loaf every 10 minutes; you may need to cover the top with aluminium foil if it is browning too quickly.
  7. Once cooked remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.
Gluten- free coconut banana bread

Gluten- free coconut banana bread

I suppose I am a little anxious about the change and what it means for my sister and I. No one can live in Neverland forever and I have been lucky to have her so close for so long. If, as the Danish proverb says, ‘the road to a friend’s house is never long’, then the road to my sister’s home will never truly be more than a heartbeat away.

me dear reader, how do you cope with someone you love moving away? Are you better at dealing with change than I am?

Coconut Cranberry Scrolls

Wednesday. Already the middle of the week again. I know that I am already thinking of the downward spiral that leads from the weekly peak of Wednesday to the under-the-covers-snuggle-pit that is the weekend. What better way to entertain thoughts and dreams of the weekend than to contemplate breakfast goodies that are sure to signal a sweet start.

Without further ado my friends, I present Coconut Cranberry Scrolls. Perfect for a weekend breakfast, brunch, or any other smackeral of snacking in between.

Coconut cranberry scrolls with coconut frosting

Coconut Cranberry Scrolls

Inspired by, and adapted from, this beautiful recipe by Kim Laidlaw, in this book. While there are several steps involved in this process, and it can take a few hours from start to finish, there is a large amount of inactive time. If you like you can put this in the refrigerator overnight and simply bake them in the morning. If you would like to take that option I have included a note below. Besides, when you smell the sweet coconut and jam smell wafting from the oven you will be pleased you indulged in the ancient comfort of bread making.

Ingredients

For the rolls:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup mixed berry jam
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup dessicated coconut

For the frosting:

  • 2/3 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • Water

Dough in progress


Making your dough:

  1. Place milk in a microwave-safe bowl and warm in the microwave for about 45 seconds. It should be warmer than skin temperature but not boiling. Pour milk into a large bowl and add yeast. Mix to dissolve.
  2. Allow yeast and milk to stand about 10 minutes. If your yeast hasn’t foamed after this time it is off so you will need to invest in some new yeasty creatures to get the best results.
  3. Add the sugar, eggs, flour, and salt. Mix with a spoon to form a shaggy dough. You can add a little more flour if need be.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured bench, and dot with the butter. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. This will take about 7 minutes. You may need to flour the bench a few times when you first start kneading.
  5. After you have finished kneading place dough in a large oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot to rise until it doubles in size. This will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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  1. Line a baking dish with baking paper. Turn out dough onto a floured bench, and punch it down. Cut dough in half.
  2. Working with one half and a floured rolling pin. Roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring about 25 x 35 centimetres.
  3. Warm the jam slightly in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Spread half the jam on the dough. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the coconut and then 1/3 cup of cranberries.
  4. Starting from the long edge closest to you, roll across the dough to form a log.
  5. Using a piece of cotton (or unflavoured dental floss) cut the log of dough into 8 pieces. Place these (cut side down) onto the lined baking dish.
  6. Repeat process with the other half of the dough.
  7. Cover the dish lightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise once again, in a warm spot. [If you would like to you can put them in the refrigerator at this point, and then just take them out an hour before you would like to cook them in the morning.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Third and final act:
  1. Slide the puffily pretty rolls into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Your rolls should be a beautiful golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.
  2. Remove rolls from the oven and while they cool a little prepare the frosting.
  3. To make the frosting simply mix coconut and icing sugar with enough water to make a thick paste.
  4. Drizzle frosting over warm rolls. Take a moment to revel in the blend of yeast, coconut, and warm fruit that will now perfume your immediate vicinity. This is life. This is good.
  5. Serve to your family, friends, or anyone who might randomly show up lured by the comforting promise that is baking bread. Or, gobble up as many as you can and enjoy some soul restoring alone time.

Just one more, just because I can….