Although I cannot reveal how I obtained the ground almonds during lockdown, I was delighted that they came into my possession. It meant that I could do a trial run of the recipe I was going to use as my birthday recipe. Quite often, I make macarons to share with my nearest and dearest, but after the success of Ottolenghi’s amaretti I made at Christmas (click here for recipe)and my love of matcha (see matcha, pink peppercorn and cherry madeleines click here for recipe), I decided that these matcha amaretti would be the perfect little morsel to celebrate with.
I found the recipe on https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2019/02/matcha-amaretti-cookies.html. There is also a raspberry version using raspberry powder which also look tempting. The only changes I would make to this recipe would be to reduce the amount of sugar from 200g to 150g and also to reduce the cooking time to allow for a softer amaretti. Though I have to say I did enjoy the chewy amaretti that came as a result of 25 minutes in the oven, I prefer a softer version. Next time I’ll bake them for 15-18 minutes as in the Ottolenghi recipe.
I will definitely be baking a double batch to celebrate my birthday when we get out of lockdown, one matcha and one raspberry. For now though, I will just have to enjoy these on my own!
200g almond flour or very finely ground almonds, sifted
200g granulated sugar (I used 150g)
1 tablespoon matcha powder
2 large egg whites (about 60g)
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Icing sugar to dust
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, sugar, matcha and salt until evenly incorporated.
In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and lemon juice until they hold soft peaks.
Add beaten egg whites and almond extract to dry ingredients and stir until mixture forms a soft, sticky dough.
Lightly dust your hands with icing sugar. Portion the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll into a smooth ball, then roll in icing sugar. Arrange on the lined baking tray, leaving 1 inch of space between balls.
Bake for 25 minutes until tops are cracked and bottoms are just barely golden. If you prefer softer amaretti bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
I wasn’t intending to make hot cross buns as I had managed to buy some on a trip to the supermarket during lockdown. I also snapped up the last bag of strong white bread flour. Yes! Then a fellow baker asked if I was going to make any hot cross buns for Easter but I told him I didn’t have the right dried fruit. I had apricots and a tiny handful of cranberries, not a sultana in sight. So, I toasted and buttered one of Sainsbury’s best buns. They were quite squidgy as supermarket buns tend to be, but they did the trick. During my trip to the supermarket I also bought a Lindor bunny (just because) and some tulips to lift my spirits; a proper collection of Easter goodies which would make a lovely picture. Then I started feeling weird, why would I take a picture of supermarket goods when usually I only take pictures of food that I have made? I already had the flour, so I decided to have another look in the cupboard and found a jar of stem ginger. That was it; I followed a Jamie Oliver video and made these really lovely hot cross buns. The top is glazed with the syrup from the stem ginger rather than the honey which was in the recipe. So here I am in splendid isolation eating homemade hot cross buns! Hey don’t judge me, I might put some in the freezer!
200 ml semi-skimmed milk (I used almond milk)
55g unsalted butter
½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
455g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
55g caster sugar
7g yeast (one sachet of dried yeast)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons candied peel (I used dried apricots in place of the sultanas and the peel)
30g stem ginger (I used 2 balls)
Honey to glaze (I used the stem ginger syrup)
Put the milk and butter into a saucepan and gently heat until the butter has melted. Grate the nutmeg into the milk mixture and set aside to cool.
In a bowl, put the flour, cinnamon, salt, sugar and yeast then mix until combined.
Add the egg and start to combine with the flour using a fork. Add the milk mixture and start to bring the dough together.
Dust a clean surface with flour and tip out the dough. Knead for 10 minutes. Place the dough into a bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave to prove for 30 minutes.
Knock the air out of the dough and flatten with your fingers. Scatter the fruit and ginger evenly over the dough and press it into the dough.
Fold the dough over itself and start to bring it back together so that the fruit is incorporated. Shape into a log and them cut into 12 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into balls and place them onto a baking tin, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove again for 30 minutes. The balls should expand slightly and may touch the ball next to them.
In the meantime, make the mixture for the cross by mixing 2 tablespoons of flour with a little water. You are aiming for a consistency that is runny enough to be piped. Put the mixture into a piping bag. When the buns have proved, pipe the cross on the buns.
Bake at 190 degrees, for 15-20 minutes. Glaze the buns as soon as they come out of the oven with honey (or ginger syrup).