Monday, February 13, 2006
Biscuits of joy
Last month I received a parcel from Italy for EBBP. And eventually this weekend I have had a moment to make one of the recipes enclosed. Ivano had sent the ingredients and recipe for Cookies against the bitterness of Hildegard von Bingen. After a little searching I have found these are also called biscuits of joy because and I quote:
"Eat them often and they will calm every bitterness of heart and mind - and your hearing and senses will open. Your mind will be joyous, and your senses purified, and harmful humours will diminish..."
Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179) was an amazing woman and wrote two books on medicine and natural philosophy. She particularly liked spelt:
"The spelt is the best of grains. It is rich and nourishing and milder than other grain. It produces a strong body and healthy blood to those who eat it and it makes the spirit of man light and cheerful. If someone is ill boil some spelt, mix it with egg and this will heal him like a fine ointment."
which is a distant cousin to modern wheat. It has a a harder husk and this, now a days, is thought to protect it from many pesticides.
Other ingredients in the recipe are nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon and brown sugar - all of which arrived in my parcel. I ground the cinnamon and cloves myself and grated the nutmegs, which made the kitchen smell very delicious even before I had started cooking in earnest.
2 nutmegs, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
2 finger lengths cinnamon, ground (about 1 tablespoon)
3.5g cloves, ground (about 1 tablespoon)
250g spelt flour
125g unsalted butter
125g brown sugar
Mix all the dry ingredients together and then rub in the butter, as if you were making pastry. Lightly beat the egg and then use to bind the dough together. (I'm sure this could all be done in a mixer if you have one) Then put the dough in the fridge to rest for about an hour. Roll out and cut out the biscuits - there should be about 75! Cook on lined baking sheets for 20min at 160°C.
I ate a couple of biscuits with the smokey lapsang souchong tea with orange zest, cloves and cinnamon that Ivano sent too. I can't say whether there was a generally swelling of joy on just one eating so I shall have to keep eating them!!!!