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Greek Easter Biscuits - s'more

Greek Easter Biscuits

A while ago, we visited Martha from Crave Good Food  and we asked her for her favourite recipe. Having a Greek background she sent us the recipe for these beautiful Greek Easter biscuits – perfect for afternoon tea.

The dough is easy to make and fun for the kids too. The traditional shape is a plaid or little rounds, sprinkled with sesame seeds for a nice crunch.

These biscuits, Koulourakia in Greek, are an authentic treat on Easter sunday.

Here is Martha’s recipe for traditional Greek Easter Biscuits:

This is a family recipe that never fails.   Even though these biscuits are traditionally reserved for Easter, it is not uncommon for my mother  to whip up this recipe during school holidays as an opportunity to get the grandkids baking along side her. Makes approx. 45 biscuits.

Ingredients
250 g unsalted butter
50 ml olive or vegetable oil
2 cups caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup full cream milk, lukewarm
1 kg self-raising flour
sesame seeds (optional)

Glaze
1 egg, lightly beaten
50 ml olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water              

Method
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Melt the butter. Stir together butter and oil and add the sugar. Add the eggs and milk and whisk to combine. Sift the flour and baking powder and slowly add to the wet mix. Beat until the dough is well combined.
Set aside and rest for approx. 10 mins.  Stir together the glaze and set aside. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 15 cm long rope then fold over and twist to get a plaid-like shape. Brush plaids with the glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).
Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden. Put on a wire rack to cool.

Blood Orange Tarts - s'more

Blood Orange Tarts with Candied Orange

This year seems to already be flying away and we here in Sydney have welcomed autumn. Funny thing for an European to think of Easter in autumn. So, when the two of us think of Easter, spring still comes to mind, blooming flowers everywhere in beautiful vibrant colours. We love poppies, so wonderfully delicate yet vibrant and poppy seeds are much loved for baking in Europe. Eggs are obviously a staple for baking especially around Easter and Corina also remembers blood oranges from her time in Texas.

There you are, our ingredients of choice for these delicious tarts. If you can’t get blood oranges, use normal ones but omit the lemon juice.

There’s certainly something opulent and mysterious about this kind of fruit and it was once reserved only for royalty and the very privileged.

The flesh develops its characteristic maroon colour when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night. Sometimes there is dark colouring on the outside rind as well, depending on the variety.
Blood oranges are usually sweeter than the normal orange and therefore I added a bit of lemon juice to my tart filling. The distinctive dark flesh colour is caused by the anthocyanins, a family of antioxidants. It also contains a rich blend of vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, vitamin A and fibre. Quite a superfood!

Blood orange tarts with candied orange

Filling
3/4 cup thickened cream
4 eggs
½ cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons finely grated blood orange rind
2/3 cup blood orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornflour

Pastry
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
125g butter, chilled, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon water, chilled

Candied orange slices
1 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup fresh blood orange juice
1/3 cup water
1 blood orange, thinly sliced

Method
For the pastry, put flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg, poppy seeds and water. Process until dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until just smooth. Shape into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Grease 8 little fluted, loose-based tartlets (ø 12cm) tins. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to form a large circle. Line base and sides of prepared tins with pastry. Trim excess. Re-roll pastry scraps and line remaining tins. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Place tins on a baking tray. Line pastry with baking paper. Fill with ceramic pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights or rice and paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden. Cool.
Reduce oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Whisk cream, eggs, sugar, blood orange rind, blood orange juice, lemon juice and cornflour in a bowl until smooth. Pour into pastry case. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until just set. Cool for 20 minutes. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, to make the orange syrup, stir sugar, orange juice and water in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add orange slices. Increase heat and simmer, without stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Serve with tarts.

Brunsli {Chocolate Almond Cookie}

Only four sleeps til Christmas… enough time to bake another batch of cookies… so why not try Brunsli? One of the most popular Swiss christmas cookies and absolutely delicious with coffee, tea or even a glass of wine.

Ingredients
250 g sugar
250 g ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp plain flour
2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
100 g dark chocolate, chopped

Method
Place the sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon and flour in a bowl and mix well.

Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the sugar-almond mixture with a spatula until just combined. Don’t overwork.

Melt chocolate in a warm water bath and fold gently through the sugar-almond mixture. Form the dough into a ball, cover and let cool at room temparature for about 1 hour.

Dust the work bench with sugar and roll the cookie dough with a rolling pin to about 5mm thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on a lined baking tray.

Let the cookies dry at room temperature for a few hours (best over night). Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees Celsius and bake cookies for 5 min. Remove from baking tray and place on a wire rack to cool.
s'more Brunsli