It’s funny what can upset you, isn’t it? Funny odd not funny ha ha.
The attachments we form to inanimate – and frankly insignificant – objects can verge on the ridiculous.
Like many kids, my sister and I helped mum in the kitchen and developed a love of food and cooking from an early age. Mostly, we cooked from mum’s collection of cookery books but when I was 12, my interest was re-galvanised by cookery lessons at school and I decided I wanted to learn more about baking. I bought my very first cookery book, one of the Marks & Spencer’s St Michael series; Good Home Baking by Mary Cadogan was newly published in 1983 and I loved cooking from it. I have strong and quite distinct memories of making the individually shaped Vienna bread rolls and some of the biscuit recipes many times, as I strove to improve my skills.
Fast forward a few years and I left for university, but failed to take the book with me. When I next came home and tried to find it I discovered, to my enormous upset, that mum had given it away! Had it been any of the other books we cooked from, it wouldn’t have been a big deal but this was my book, my first cookery book and I wanted it back! It was one I had learned and loved cooking from and I felt its loss far more keenly than my rather chagrined mum had anticipated. Of course, she offered to buy me another copy but it was no longer readily available and eventually I stopped sulking and let it go.
But actually, several times in the years since then, I’ve found myself thinking about that one cookery book and wistfully wishing I still had it. It’s not that I feel I need those recipes to make bread rolls or biscuits. Maybe it’s just nostalgia? For years, I’ve browsed charity shop shelves in the hope of spotting it. Others in the St Michael series have popped up now and then and I’ve bought all kinds of other fabulous finds. But I never spotted my book.
Of course, there’s one thing we have at our fingertips now that we didn’t have back when mum gave my precious book away: the internet! A couple of weeks ago, I suddenly decided to try and track down the book on the web. To my delight, it took all of ten minutes to find several second-hand copies on sale via Amazon Marketplace and a few days later my “used very good” copy arrived.
As soon as I started flicking through the pages, I recognised many of the photographs.
But what to make first? Should it be Coffee Kisses or Glazed Nut Loaf or Tea Brack or Sticky Gingerbread, all of which I remember making?
In the end, the decision was easy. I cast my eye over the box of product samples waiting to be reviewed and settled quickly on a selection of Nutural World Nut Butters. Made by the delightfully named Mordechai Chachamu (I genuinely think his might be the single most charming name I’ve ever encountered), these nut and seed butters are 100% natural with just one ingredient each. Mordechai gently roasts the nuts and seeds to bring out their flavour, then processes them to smooth or crunchy. The regular jars hold 170 grams and range in price from just £1.98 for the Sunflower Butter to £5.60 for the Macadamia Nut Butter. Also in the range are Cashew Nut, Pumpkin Seed, Hazelnut, Brazil Nut, White and Brown Almond, Pecan and Pistachio.
You can buy these from the Nutural World website, at Broadway and Camden markets and on eBay and I urge you to give them a try. They’re absolutely delicious and a wonderful alternative to their better known cousin, peanut butter.
Which is why I chose a classic peanut butter recipe from Good Home Baking to put some of Nutural World’s nut butters to the test – Peanut Biscuits.
Because I wanted to try three different variations, we first mixed up the biscuit dough without any nut butter, divided it into three and then added a different nut butter to each portion. Of course, you can make a single batch and add whichever nut butter you choose to your mix.
As we’re not fans of margarine, we also switched margarine to butter and we adapted the method to use our food processor. Of course, you can mix by hand.
These biscuits are what I’d call old fashioned in style – they’re crunchy and crumbly rather than soft and chewy and the flavours are subtle rather than smack-in-the-face. They’re perfect with a big mug of tea.
Old Fashioned Nut Butter Biscuits
Adapted from Mary Cadogan’s Peanut Biscuits
Makes about 24 biscuits
275 grams plain flour
0.5 teaspoon baking powder
0.5 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100 grams butter
225 grams soft light brown sugar
100 grams crunchy nut butter of your choice
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C (fan).
- Process flour, baking powder, salt, bicarbonate of soda and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar and eggs. If using a single nut butter, add this in too.
- Process until the mixture comes together as soft sticky dough, with the ingredients thoroughly combined.
- If making a variety of nut butter biscuits, scrape the dough out of the processor, divide into portions, add nut butter and beat in thoroughly using a fork or spoon.
- On a baking tray lined with either a silicon mat or baking paper, spoon out dollops of biscuit dough and use a fork to pat each dollop down and create criss-cross lines on the surface.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
- Leave to cool on the baking tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely.
Kavey Eats received nut butter samples from Nutural World.