I had a big day of cooking today, turning out 2 dozen molasses cookies, an impossible pie, a pot of poached apricots, an arrabiata pasta sauce and a roast chook for dinner. The cookies are for a work morning tea on Tuesday, and I'm hoping the pie will freeze well, so I can take it to a Friday evening Xmas thing.
The pie is from a Kerry Greenwood book - if you don't know these already, I highly recommend her as a writer of delightful Melbourne based cosy mysteries. In the Phryne Fisher series, it is always and eternally 1928. Private detective Phryne is a poor girl turned rich, with sound feminist, socialist and anti-racist sentiments, and a love of fast cars, fine food and beautiful young men. The Corinna Chapman series is set in modern times, and stars a baker of ample size who lives in the a classical themed apartment complex with many other interesting characters. Several books feature recipes at the back. This impossible pie is from her latest, Dead Man's Chest.
Recipe: Kerry's Impossible Pie
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup flaked almonds
vanilla essence to taste
125g melted butter
1 cup milk
extra 1/4 cup flaked almonds to sprinkle on top.
* Mix everything together thoroughly.
* Pour into a greased pie dish, and sprinkle reserved almonds on top.
* Bake at 170C for 35-45 minutes, or until it seems all just set.
If you have too much to go in the pie dish, the remnant can be baked in a ramekin or two. I did one today - you can see it sitting there on the festive green and red silicon baking sheets. This is a good idea anyway - that way you can have a test serve and check out the taste and texture before taking it to the party it's planned for. For me that's next Friday night. So I really really hope it freezes well! Serve this warm or cold, on its own or with some stewed fruit - perhaps poached apricots? Yes. By the way, poached apricots are very nice with a dash of rosewater and a sprinkle of toasted flaked almonds.
The molasses cookies were also nice and easy, and a great success. They're sweet but with complexity from the molasses and spices. I got this recipe from an American blog called "Not Martha". She has some wonderfully gorgeous stuff there, like mini gingerbread houses for perching on the side of a mug of hot chocolate, and miniature fruit pies.
Recipe 2: Sparkling Chewy Molasses Cookies, by Not Martha.
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
3/4 of a 250g packet salted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses, blackstrap works well here
about 1/2 cup demerara sugar
* Beat the butter, sugar, egg and molasses together well.
* Sift the flour, spice and baking soda together.
* Add the flour to the butter/sugar mix and mix well.
* Spoon out tablespoons of dough at a time, roll to balls in your hands.
* Roll the balls of dough in the demerara sugar.
* Lay them out on a baking tray, about 5cm apart.
* Bake at 170C for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are firming up.
* Let cool on the tray for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
Notes: this is American, but keeping the same proportions is OK. Although I used an Australian tablespoon, and this may be why mine cracked more than the picture in the original. I also baked 2 trays at once in my convection oven. I made 2 dozen (yes, two are missing from the picture, how odd!), and froze the third dozen unbaked.
I have removed the salt, but used salted butter; and I used cassia, which is commonly used as cinnamon in the US. It's a bit hotter than true cinnamon.
Molasses is available from health food shops, or you could use treacle. Microwaving your jar of molasses for 20-30 seconds makes it easy to pour.
Demerara sugar is a light brown sugar made to a larger crystal than regular raw sugar, but you could use raw sugar if demerara is hard to come by.