Cream crackers; or, No more shopping 

Pehr Edvin Svinhufvud (1861-1944) was the first head of state of independent Finland, and its third president. Before Finland’s independence he spoke so strongly against oppressive Russian policies in Finland that he was imprisoned in Siberia, and after independence he helped put down a right-wing rebellion by going on the radio and telling everyone to stop fooling around and go home.

But this blog post isn’t about him – it’s about his wife, Ellen. Ellen Svinhufvud (1869-1953). Being from a bourgeois 19th century family she was educated in all the necessary arts of running a household, and proceeded to do just that for her politician husband and growing family, be it in the presidential residence or the house in Kotkanniemi that the couple retired to after P.E.’s stint as president.

Ellen Svinhufvud never wrote a cookbook. What she did, though, was collect recipes – don’t we all? The Svinhufvud museum in Kotkanniemi has three notebooks with over 800 handwritten recipes. From those 800, editors Sirkka-Liisa Lehtinen and Sirkka Svinhufvud chose a selection for a book called “Ellen Svinhufvud” and published it in 2009. It’s from that work that I have picked today’s recipe – cream crackers.

  • “200 grams butter 
  • 600 grams fine wheat flour 
  • 400 grams potato flour 
  • 3 dl cream 
  • (1 dl sugar)
  • 4 eggyolks 
  • 2 tsp baking soda 

Rub the butter well and add the other ingredients. Wheat flour is added last, as much as is needed. Roll to a thin sheet immediately. Bake immediately.”


For once I kept in mind that whole “people used to bake for a lot more people”-thing, and used only half of the ingredients. I also left out the sugar since it seemed to be optional in the recipe and I wanted the crackers for a cheese platter.

The recipe is pretty straightforward, just work your ingredients together. Do use real butter, the flavour will be much better. The recipe emphasizes swiftness because if your butter gets too soft the dough will become sticky and difficult to work with. So, quickly knead everything into a dough, adding wheat flour until your dough has a good consistency and doesn’t stick to your hands very much. I found that the potato flour made for a very smooth dough that was pleasant to work with. 

Roll your dough out into an even sheet. You can use a cookie cutter to take out crackers, or you can do what I did and just cut the whole sheet of dough into squares. Bake in about 175 degrees C until the crackers are a good colour, about 10 minutes. I left mine quite soft.


They were tasty. So tasty, in fact, that when I served them to some guests they all got eaten so fast that I was left with only a handful of offcuts to photograph. That’ll teach me to take photos before serving. These crackers are so easy to make that I’m going to make a bold claim and say there’s no point bying cream crackers from the shop – these are vastly superior.

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Hais; or, Arab trail mix

Sometimes Mrs Hindle likes to go out of her comfort zone of 18th-19th century Europe and USA. Today we plunge far outside the aforementioned zone when we visit 13th century Baghdad.

In 1226 Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate and the centre of a vast empire deep in the middle of its golden age of culture and learning. The House of Wisdom was founded to collect and foster all the knowledge in the world, and advances were made in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, medicine and much more. Stories and fairytales from all over the empire were collected into “The Book of One Thousand And One Nights”. And in 1226, this centre of learning also encouraged Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi to publish a collection of the city’s most popular recipes, the “Kitab al-Ṭabīḫ” or Book of Dishes. Only a few decades later Baghdad was sacked by the Mongol army of Hulagu Khan in a fury of destruction that saw almost the entire population massacred, irrigation systems filled in, buildings torched and the manuscripts of the House of Wisdom thrown into the Tiber river. A contemporary account famously states that the waters of the Tiber ran black for days with the ink from the manuscripts.

Needless to say, Mrs Hindle does not approve of the Mongols.

At least one copy of al-Baghdadi’s book survived the destruction and was preserved at a library in Istanbul, from whence it influenced the cooking traditions of the Ottoman empire and is also now available to us.

Most of the recipes in the book are so unfamiliar to me I haven’t been brave enough to try them, but today’s dish is called hais and seemed less challenging than many others.

I made half a batch, so the ingredients look like this:

  • 225 grams breadcrumbs
  • 170 grams dates, pitted
  • 40 grams unsalted pistachios and peeled almonds, about half and half
  • 30 grams sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cumin and coriander
  • powdered sugar

Sesame oil might be difficult to come by and can be replaced by clarified butter, but for the flavour I really recommend sesame oil. The recipe does not specify what spices or in what quantities to use, so I made it up.

Not one for macerating anything by hand, I put the breadcrumbs, pistachios, almonds and dates in a food processor and gave them a whirl. Next, heat the oil and spices in a small saucepan. Heating the spices will release their aromas more effectively. Pour the oil onto the macerated mixture and mix it all well. I had to add more oil at this point because the mixture was too crumbly, so use your fingers and evaluate for yourself.

Crumbly, and smells heavenly.

Once the mixture is of a consistency that sticks together, form small tight balls out of it with your hands and roll the balls in powdered sugar. Stack and serve.

 I especially liked the halo effect.

This is good for travellers“, al-Baghdadi writes, and I can definitely see why. The hais had a strong but pleasant flavour of sesame and spices, the sweetness of the dates was tempered by the other flavours, and the nuts and dates see to it that these little things are packed with energy. I strongly recommend trying these, because the preparation process is very simple.

Risen Cake, or, Boy that’s a lot of eggs

We’re back in antebellum Virginia again, hanging out with Mary Randolph. I love that word, antebellum. Not only does it roll beautifully off the tongue, it also exemplifies how language is shaped by concepts that are deemed particularly important to a community. For there to be an adjective specifically describing a part of the United States the way it was before the US Civil War, that way of life must have been, in hindsight, deemed worthy of rememberance and description, of longing and nostalgia. I’m further fascinated by this because from my perspective, “antebellum” describes a lifestyle that was built on exploitation and misery and not particularly worthy of being placed on the pedestal of nostalgia.

And that brings us to our Virginia Housewife again, presiding over her kitchen staff of servants and slaves. This time she’s directing her cook to make something called “Risen cake”.

I make that:

  • 1,4 kg flour
  • 670 gr sugar
  • 1 tsp powdered cloves
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • yeast – I used about 50 grams
  • 12 eggs (yes, that’s right – 12)
  • 450 gr butter
  • 2,4 dl brandy
  • 900 gr raisins

That’s a lot of eggs. Also, that red box is only half the amount of raisins I used.

At first I considered making only half the amount of dough, but after some egging on (no pun intended) by Mr Hindle I decided to go for it and see what would happen. The first thing that happened was that once I’d mixed the flour, sugar and spices and was going to add yeast and many, many eggs, I realised I didn’t have a bowl big enough. So I had to resort to mixing it all in a bucket.

That brownish stuff is yeast. I know, this looks awful.

Yet again, a reminder that kitchens in the old days often had to cater to larger crowds than today.

Now, I had to make an educated guess about the amount of yeast. I went for 50 grams. The recipe doesn’t call for the yeast to be added to a warm liquid, as is the usual way, but to let the dough rise overnight. Now, technically this should work. I’ve made bread this way before, successfully, letting time rather than heat make the yeast function. So with full confidence in myself and my dough I mixed the vast quantities together in the evening and set it to rise in the fridge.

Naturally, it didn’t work. In the morning my dough had not risen one iota. So I had to resort to what the kids these days call a life hack – toss the dough into the microwave oven and heat it up, place in a warm spot under a towel, then cross your fingers and pray to Hestia. This completely unacceptable treatment of yeast worked, and an hour and a half later I finally had the beginnings of a “risen cake”.

I then cut the soft butter into small chunks and kneaded the butter and the brandy into the dough. It turned out, rather predictably, to be very sticky. The 900 grams of raisins reduced the stickiness a little, but the dough still had to be scooped and smoothed into the forms. Naturally I had to use my two largest forms. The dough smelled pleasantly of brandy at this point.

In a cookbook written for wood-heated ovens you never get very good baking instructions, so again it was guesswork. I had the oven on about 180 degrees C, which I think may have been too hot. The cakes took upwards of two hours to bake through and by the time they were done they had gotten a bit too dark on the surface. Try a lower temperature and prepare for a long cooking time!

   

They ended up looking nice enough anyway. The finished cakes were dense and heavy stuff with a strong flavour of brandy. I served the cakes in slices garnished with a bit of whipped cream. The raisins made the cakes very rich and a little piece went a long way, but if you like, say, English fruit cake then you’d like this cake too. If you do try this recipe I would recommend halving or even quartering the recipe and using a lower oven temperature.

Fromage d’Enguien; or, Turns out it was cheese after all

Mrs Hindle is not deterred by weirdness and so today I’m going back to (probably) Moutier and his instructions on how to cook for French toffs – the “Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, D’Office, et de Distillation”. Today’s recipe is for a cream cheese called Fromage d’Enguien.

I tried to find out who or what d’Enguien was and why there was a cheese called after it, and the closest I can get to is Enghien, a county in modern-day Belgium. The Duc d’Enghien is a noble title first created in the 16th century. Later the title itself was separated from the actual landholdings and the name Duke of Enghien became a courtesy title held by the oldest son of the Prince of Condé, a now-extinct branch of the French royal Bourbon-family. At the time the Dictionnaire Portatif was published, in 1767, the Prince of Condé was 31-year-old Louis Joseph de Bourbon, recently-widowed and in the middle of a scandalous love affair with the wife of the prince of Monaco. Their illicit affair lasted until the death of the prince of Monaco in 1795, after which the two were married. His son Louis Henri, who was the 11-year-old Duke of Enghien in 1767, went on to be the last of the Condé line after his son was executed by Napoleon.

Since my book is in Finnish I won’t write out the full recipe, I’ll just walk you through what I did. What you need for this cream cheese is:

  • pinte, or 0,9 liters of milk
  • 1 chopine, or 4,7 dl of cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 lemons, the grated rind from one and the juice from both
  • sugar (3 tblsp)
  • orange-blossom water (1 tblsp)

The recipe doesn’t specify the amount of sugar or orange-blossom water needed, so I made it up and gave you the amounts I used.

Start by grating the rind from one lemon. Then squeeze the juice from both into a pinte (0,9 liters) of water.

Separate the eggs into whites and yolks. Put the whites into a metal bowl and whisk them. You might as well whisk them in a saucepan since you’ll need one later on anyway. Add the yolks one at a time and keep whisking, all the while thanking your lucky stars you have an electric beater. I did wonder why the instructions insisted on separating the eggs since they would all get beaten together anyway, but I swear the end result was frothier than if I had whisked them without separating them first.

Into the egg-froth you pour the milk, cream, orange-blossom water, sugar and lemon rind. The recipe says you can also add a little salt, but I didn’t.

Now set your saucepan on the stove and start heating it all up carefully. Make sure your saucepan is big enough – I used a 3-liter one and it was barely sufficient, but it’s the biggest one I have. Must invest in more voluminous equipment.

Keep a close eye on your mixture as it heats up, and keep your lemon water at hand. The moment it begins to boil, drizzle some lemon water into the pot in a circular motion along the sides. The lemon water stops it from boiling over, and starts to curdle the milk at the same time.

This pot is barely big enough. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had been a little bit too slow in pouring in the lemon water. Mr Hindle complains enough as it is about having to clean up after me in the kitchen.

Wait for it to boil up again, and drizzle some more water. Repeat this five or six times. When you’ve used all your lemon water take the pot off the stove and let it cool for a while.

Get a cheese cloth and a cheese form, or, failing that, a colander. I only have a colander. A cheese cloth is handy though, but any cloth that allows water to drain through it will work. Using a skimmer, lift your curdled mixture from the pot and into the colander. Suspend the colander over a bigger bowl, otherwise you’ll have a mess on your hands.

I have a good feeling about this.

In hindsight I should perhaps have patted the mixture down a bit into the form, now I just left it to drain for four or five hours in the fridge.

The recipe recommends eating the cheese with whipped cream and sugar, but I chose to serve it as it was, with some fresh bread.

What I ended up with, once I tipped it out of the colander, was a creamy and mild cheese with a delicate taste of lemon and orange-blossom. It was easy, too – the recipe looks convoluted and time-consuming, but really, it only took 20 minutes or so in addition to the cooling and setting. It was perhaps not the prettiest of cheeses, but if I’d had a nicer form to have it settle in it would have looked as good as it tasted.

Oulu loaf; or, bread for the entire extended family

This blog has been plagued by assorted recipe-related failures (not all of which I’ve actually blogged about yet) lately, so today I’m going with something safe and unadventurous – bread. I’m also going with a safe and unadventurous cookbook: “Kotiruoka” (“Home-cooking”), a Finnish cookbook for homes and schools written and published in 1908 by three ladies about whom I haven’t found out very much yet.

Edit Reinilä-Hellman, Sofie Calonius and Valma Krank-Heikinheimo were probably home economics teachers, because their names appear on several cookbooks from the early decades of the 20th century with titles suggesting educational purposes. “Kotiruoka” is a Finnish classic. First published in 1908, it had gone through nine editions by the time my copy came out in 1923. It is now onto its 74th edition, though the current version holds little in common with the first editions. “Kotiruoka” is one of those books that gets scribbled in and passed down, and though mine came from a flea market rather than being passed down in the family, it has been scribbled in. A lady by the name of Helga has inscribed her name and the date 31.5.1925 on the first page, and the book has been embellished with numerous hand-written recipes and newspaper clippings. Some of these are from ad recipes for Rumford’s baking powder.

Rumford started making baking powder in 1856 in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, and by the turn of the century the company had a significant slice of the baking powder market. The ads that have been glued into my book urge the reader to ask for Rumford at the colonial goods store. Let that irony sink in for a moment.

But now, to the bread! I chose a recipe called Oulun limppu. Oulu is a city in central Finland, and limppu is a loaf-shaped leavened bread with a sourish taste and soft texture. Bread has a central place in Finnish food culture, and limppu-style breads were an integral part of the Christmas spread.

Ingredients:

  • 50 g yeast
  • 1 liter lukewarm buttermilk
  • 2 dl syrup
  • 2 tbslp powdered bitter orange peel[1]
  • 1 tbslp salt
  • 1½ tblsp crushed caraway seeds
  • 800 g wheat flour
  • 800 g rye flour

[1] Bitter oranges are also known as Sevilla oranges and marmalade oranges, and would you have guessed it, they’re used for making Sevilla marmalade. The peel, when dried and ground into powder, is a bitter-tasting but fragrant spice that is used in traditional Finnish baking, especially gingerbread and loaf bread or limppu.

In hindsight this makes an awful lot of bread, so if you’re not baking for a dozen people you might want to consider halving the recipe.

This is what you need. If you can’t find buttermilk I supposed you could just use regular milk, but that won’t give you the sourness you need. Try mixing milk and sour yoghurt, buttermilk is runny but thicker than milk.

Warm your buttermilk until it’s as warm as your hand. Yeast needs a temperature of about 37 degrees C to function perfectly. Much colder and your dough will rise too slowly, much warmer and you’ll kill the yeast. Don’t kill the yeast, what did those poor microbes ever do to you? Mix the yeast into the buttermilk.

Add about half of the wheat flour into the buttermilk and stir until you get a gooey porridge. Put this in a warm place for a while. If everything has gone smoothly you should start seeing bubbles in your goo as the yeast does its magic.

While your goo is waiting for bubbles crush your caraway seeds, then mix the sour orange peel and caraway seeds with the syrup and warm it all up. I’m not sure why the recipe wants you to do this, perhaps the heat releases more aromas from the spices, or perhaps it’s to help the yeast somehow. Whatever the case, once your goo is nice and bubbly you add the somewhat cooled syrup mixture and the rest of the flour, both wheat and rye.

Knead your dough thoroughly. At this point I realised that this recipe was originally designed for a much bigger household than mine, and a much stronger set of arms than mine. 1,6 kilos of flour makes a great big batch of dough, so kneading it is quite the workout. Knead until you have a good consistency to your dough – ten minutes minimum, keep at it longer if you can. Set it in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes or so, covered with a teatowel. If you’re making the full-sized batch be sure to use a container that’s big enough, ideally your dough will rise to twice its original size.

Once your dough has risen give it another knead on the table, just a quick one. Form the dough into three loaves and set them to rise in a warm place, again covered with a teatowel. Let them rise for another 45 minutes or so.

If you didn’t kill your poor microbes, you should get this.

The recipe says to bake in “normal oven temperature for 1 hour”. That means about 200 degrees C. You can test to see if your bread is ready by tapping the bottom of a loaf. If it sounds hollow it’s finished. Now go soak your fingers in cold water since you burned them on the hot bread[2].

[2] Pro-tip: a layer of honey works wonders on all the little burns you get while fluttering around in the kitchen.

Pretty bread.

This recipe gives you a toothsome, no-frills bread – typically Finnish in both taste and style.

Chicken Pye; or, Not the Strangest Chicken Pie I’ve Made For This Blog

Mrs Hindle is back from holiday! Did everyone behave themselves? Did you cook something odd, something delicious, something ancient, or a mixture of all three? Don’t hesitate to tell me all about it!

Today we’re off to Scotland. “A New and Easy Method of Cookery” was a nifty title for a book back in 1755, but now it’s just a thoroughly misleading name. The author was one Elizabeth Cleland, and apparently she, like many other women who wrote cookbooks in times gone by, ran a school for young ladies in Edinburgh. The school would have catered to students from an upper class background, and so it’s safe to assume that Cleland’s book gives us a fair measure of insight into what the gentry of Scotland ate in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Sir Walter Scott’s library holds a first edition of Cleland’s book, probably brought there by Scott’s mother who may well have been a student of Cleland’s.

I’m not going to go into more detail about Elizabeth Cleland or her book this time, because today’s recipe is quite extensive. I will point out an interesting side-note, though. I’ve mentioned before how many authors of cook books in the 18th and 19th centuries were unsqueamish about copying recipes from previous books.  Cleland borrowed freely from Eliza Smith’s “Compleat Housewife” and Hannah Glasse’s “Art of Cookery”. I was not, then, particularly surprised to find that the almond puffs I prepared for my previous blog entry had been copied verbatim from Elizabeth Cleland. And who knows, she may have copied them from somewhere else!

But now, it’s time to make chicken pye. Here’s what you need:

 Yes, all this.

That adds up to:

  • 400g mince meat
  • ca. 800g chicken breasts
  • artichoke hearts (I used tinned)
  • a lemon
  • a mess of eggs (two for meatballs, two for caudle, five or six for the pie)
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg, mace and cloves
  • fresh herbs
  • 1,4dl white wine
  • not pictured: 1,4 dl gravy, pie dough

Now, you actually have to start with making some “forc’d-meat balls”.

A tip on reading this: An “f” at the beginning of a syllable is actually an “s”, except when it’s not; and, as was common in 17th and 18th century English, Cleland capitalizes nouns in the German fashion, which makes me all tingly and excited for some reason.

Forced meat is a mixture of lean meat and fat, ground up into a smooth paste. Mince meat will do just fine. This is a pretty basic meatball recipe, and I was a bit surprised by the lack of onion. Onions has been a well-known ingredient in Europe for centuries and in my mind meatballs always have onions in them. But not so here. Instead, just season your mince to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg, cloves and the zest of a lemon. Nutmeg and cloves can be a bit overpowering so go easy on those if you’re uncertain – I used about half a teaspoon of each. The instructions call for “sweet Herbs”, where I assume “sweet” to stand for “fresh”. All I had available was mint, but take what you can find, I’m sure it’s all good. Mint was nice. Mix in two eggs, roll into balls and fry.

Tasty little things.

The mixture was pretty loose so my meatballs were more square than round, but turns out they tasted fine, and with the interesting mixture of spices and lemon zest these meatballs could be straight out of a modern cooking magazine. The article would have a title like “Give traditional meatballs a Levantine twist with these exciting flavour combinations!”

I took the opportunity to make some terribly lumpy gravy from the frying juice, since gravy was required further down the road. And now, to the pye!

I’ve been trying to track down mace for a while, and I finally found some for this recipe. It’s not a commonly used spice in Finland. I kept reading online about how you can easily replace it with nutmeg, but now that I’ve got both side by side I’m going to respectfully disagree – mace and nutmeg are not interchangeable. So grab your chicken, everyone, and season it. I wasn’t brave enough to get a whole chicken and take it from there, so I just got some nice pre-cut chicken breasts. So far so good.

But now I got a bit confused. A pie, in my opinion, is when you have a pastry-lined dish which you fill with something and then you may or may not put a pastry lid on top before cooking. Turns out I had a narrow-minded opinion about pies, and there is such a thing as a top-crust pie which doesn’t have pastry lining the dish. And that’s what we’re making here, so take a deep dish and fill it with seasoned chicken, meatballs, the yolks of hard eggs (I fed the whites to my kids – they were delighted since they never want the yolks and I always force them to eat them) and artichoke hearts. And eclectic mix, but if Mrs Cleland says that’s what goes in her pye, then that’s what Mrs Hindle puts in the pye. Top it off with a few dollops of butter and a few spoonfuls of gravy.

Not the stuff I usually put in a pie.

Cover with a lid and cook. I was distracted and didn’t time my cooking very well, but I think a good 45 minutes in 200 degrees C. But wait! We’re not done yet! The last lines of the recipe tells us to make a caudle.

What the heck is a caudle and what’s it doing in our pye?

Well, dear readers, a caudle is apparently originally a warm thickened drink, alcoholic in nature and usually sweet. The first recipes are for a wine-based drink, but later on it also gets made with ale. Similar to eggnog, I suppose, and now I will make a note to myself to look up a recipe and make it as a drink some time.

In this recipe, though, the caudle is not for drinking but for pouring into your pye. These instructions are found elsewhere in Cleland’s book:

 

A gill is about 1,4 dl. Equal parts gravy and white wine heated up get thickened with two egg yolks and seasoned with nutmeg and sugar. To thicken a warm sauce with egg, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl, take a bit of the warm sauce and rapidly stir it into the eggs, repeat a few times until the eggs are warm, then pour them into the sauce and stir briskly again. I’d never done this before, but it worked nicely and I quickly got a thick, pale sauce. Lift the lid of the pie, pour the caudle in, lower the lid again and shake the dish so the caudle distributes evenly.

I will admit to some confusion again over the use of the word “sweet” here. “This caudle will serve for any sweet pye.” Fresh pie? Sugary pie? But these pies aren’t sugary. I don’t know. I remain confused.

In the end, after much preparation, I got this bowl full of chicken, meatballs, artichokes and whatnot, with a pastry lid. It’s not what I recognise as a pie, but it was delicious.

What I’m left wondering is how it’s supposed to be served. It was obviously impossible to cut slices from it, and we were left with no choice but to cut away a piece of the lid and then unceremoniously scoop out the filling and plop it onto a plate. Serving would have been even more difficult if, as in the original recipe, the chicken had been in larger pieces, bones and all.

Very tasty, but not something that would make a pretty picture and so all you get is a shot of the pie with the lid still intact.

Almond Puffs; or, Greetings from London

Mrs. Hindle has been on a bit of a hiatus due to a trip to London with her good sister, Mrs. P. Much merriment was had, refreshments were taken at appropriate tea-related times, public houses were visited, and dainties enjoyed. In honour of this successful trip, today’s blog deals with London.

The London Tavern was opened in Bishopsgate, London, in 1768. It became famous for its good food and skilled waiters and many meetings were held on the premises. So well-know was it as a meeting venue that Charles Dickens used it in Nicholas Nickelby as a location for a public discussion on the issue of “petitioning Parliament in favour of the United Metropolitan Improved Hot Muffin and Crumpet Baking and Punctual Delivery Company.” He may have been making a snide joke.

The building that housed the Tavern was torn down in 1876 so I couldn’t go there for a meal. Luckily one John Farley (1755 or 1756-1827) worked there as head chef during the Tavern’s heyday and recorded his recipes (and many he copied from previous works) in a book called The London Art of Cookery, first published in 1783. Farley is a cook according to my heart – a true man of the Enlightenment. In his preface he states that “Cookery, like every other Art, has been moving forward to Perfection by slow Degrees /…/ we find that daily Improvements are still making therein“. “Cookery“, he adds, “must be considered as an art“. Alas, as will become apparent, Mrs. Hindle has not yet reached the level of a true artis. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! My recipe of choice from Farley’s book was almond puffs, a little something to serve at young miss Hindle’s 6th birthday party.

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What you need. That’s almond, eggs, sugar and orange-flower water.

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I started with 60 grams of almonds and ground them up in a food processor. The orange-flower water obviously adds taste and scent to the puffs, but I’m under the impression it also prevents the almonds from going too oily if beaten in a mortar. I didn’t try beating the almonds in a mortar, my mortaring skills are still rudimentary.

Once the almonds were ground fine I whisked the three egg-whites into a hard froth. Remember egg-whites whisk better if you do it in a metal or ceramic bowl, and make sure all your tools are clean and dry. Kitchen chemistry and all that. The recipe was not particularly clear on how much orange-flower water and sugar to add, but in all I put in about 3/4 dl sugar, partly while whisking the whites and partly afterwards. So, final recipe:

60 g almonds, ground up

1 tblsp orange-flower water

The whites of 3 eggs

3/4 dl sugar

Flower water and sugar is up to your own tastes, or course. What I ended up with, anyway, was a semi-solid batter that could be easily dropped into small piles, like thus:

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Piles.

So far so good, but now came my tragic error. The recipe calls for a cool oven. I figured I was dealing with something akin to meringues and turned the oven to about 130 degrees C. After 45 minutes I thought they looked a nice golden colour and pulled them out, only to have them sag into sticky lumps.

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Sticky lumps.

Now, don’t get me wrong – they were tasty sticky lumps. But the consistency was all wrong. I’m guessing I would have needed to have the oven considerably hotter. They were still tasty enough for me to try them again, though!