The Oldie - - CONTENTS - Elis­a­beth Luard

Ger­man home-cook­ing – re­gional, fru­gal, sea­sonal and north­ern with­out the Nordic – hasn't had much to say for it­self. All this may change with Anya Dunk's sparkling mutti- makeover, Strudel, Noo­dles and Dumplings (Fourth Es­tate, £26).

Anya, born and bred in the Welsh val­leys, is a tal­ented pro­fes­sional cook who learned her craft from her Bavar­ian grand­mother. The re­sult of this granny­cook­ing for the mil­len­nial way of life is a book of fam­ily-friendly recipes with sto­ries to match. In­struc­tions are given for pre­serv­ing, pick­ling and salt­ing in man­age­able small-fam­ily quan­ti­ties. How about a litre of sauer­kraut, ready for stor­age in 15 min­utes?

Most un­usual, how­ever, are el­e­gant com­bi­na­tions of fruit and veg­eta­bles in side-dishes, soups and sal­ads. Sea­sonal dishes in­clude green bean and pear soup with speck; a salad of en­dive and grape­fruit-seg­ments to serve with cold ham; a dish of pit­ted ripe grapes, rocket and tar­ragon as an ac­com­pa­ni­ment for roast chicken – or as a light lunch with but­tered rye bread and blue cheese.

So take a break from Brexit and cel­e­brate the sea­son of good­will with a batch of tra­di­tional Ger­man gin­ger­bread cook­ies just in time for Ad­vent. The scent from the oven is known as Ofenduft – as if you didn't know.

Christ­mas Le­bküchen

Anya bakes a big batch of gin­ger­bread cook­ies for the run-up to Christ­mas. Flour-free and but­ter­less, they'll still be good at Easter if stored in an air­tight tin. Ger­man cooks can buy a spice-mix, Le­buchengewürz – a blend of cin­na­mon, car­damom, gin­ger, mace, clove, anise and all­spice – though Anya says cin­na­mon and gin­ger will do. Mar­malade can also re­place the honey and mixed peel com­bi­na­tion.

Makes about 45 bis­cuits

2 medium eggs 200g light brown sugar 2 tbsp runny honey 150g ground al­monds 100g ground hazel­nuts 100g mixed peel, finely chopped 1 un­waxed le­mon, grated zest (save the juice for the ic­ing) 1 tsp ground cin­na­mon 1 tsp ground gin­ger 1/2 tsp bak­ing pow­der To pre­pare for bak­ing: ed­i­ble rice pa­per or filo pas­try cut into rounds To fin­ish: Ic­ing sugar and le­mon juice Melted dark choco­late

Beat the eggs with the sugar with an elec­tric whisk till light and fluffy. Warm the honey in a small pan. Fold the rest of the in­gre­di­ents into the eggs and sugar, adding the honey last, and mix to the con­sis­tency of a stiff cake bat­ter. Spoon into a bowl, cover with cling­film and set in the fridge overnight. Pre­heat the oven to 160C/gas 3. Di­vide the rice pa­per or filo rounds be­tween 2 bak­ing sheets (line them with bak­ing parch­ment in case the mix­ture runs). Spoon tea­spoons of the mix­ture on the rounds. Bake for about 20 min­utes, till the tops are golden. Mean­while, pre­pare the ic­ing: mix 8 ta­ble­spoons of sifted ic­ing sugar with the re­served le­mon juice to make a runny glaze.

Paint the bis­cuits with the glaze as soon as they come out of the oven. Let the cook­ies cool be­fore you spread on the melted choco­late (Anya sug­gests a tea­spoon of co­conut oil to keep it shiny).

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