Friday, 11 November 2011

Spiced Sesame Seed and Sultana Cookies

It's Time to Make Further Savings, So Let's Get Baking.

Having decided that November should be a 'use it up' month, rather than a 'main grocery shop' month, I have been busy using up whatever I can in an effort to reduce the stockpile of food in our house.

The main reason for doing this is to ensure that I stay within my £4,000 annual budget, as per the annual Frugaldom Challenge but in trying to do that, we always run out of something.

Milk is the main thing needed, along with the occasional chicken, but I have plenty of bacon and at least 3 pheasants in the freezer, so we won't starve. We're slowly working our way through the garden vegetables, rhubarb and apples that had all been blanched or stewed and then frozen and I have plenty of dried goods, like pasta, rice and pulses.

The loss of the hens has been a bit of a blow, as we'd become accustomed to always having eggs to fall back on when a quick meal was required. Today's meagre offerings amounted to one solitary egg, laid by one of the bantams that survived the mink attack! This is the first egg that has been laid since that day - 15th October - so I'm hoping it's a sign of more to come. If only the ducks would start laying soon.

But I digress.

Having friends visit for coffee most weeks means it can get a little embarrassing with no biscuits to offer, so today's household challenge was to rake about in the cupboards and see what could be turned into cookies in time for this weekend's visitations.

The following is my basic cookie recipe:

8 rounded tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons margarine (melted)
2 tablespoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Having that solitary egg was a blessing, I can tell you!

To the above, I added:

6 tablespoons of sultanas
2 heaped tablespoons sesame seeds
Quarter teaspoon mixed spice
Quarter teaspoon cinnamon
Extra sprinkle of sugar

Mix everything together until it forms a soft dough that can be easily split and rolled into balls

This should be enough for 36 cookies. Roll each into a ball, flatten them between palms and then place them on a floured tray. I prefer to have the trays sprinkled with flour rather than greasing them - they're easier cleaned if you haven't any hot water.

Bake at 200C for around 15-18 minutes, depending on how thick you made them. At this point, I switch off the oven and leave the biscuits in there for about 5 more minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer onto wire cooling trays, where the biscuits will dry and crisp up a bit. (Always best to taste them while they're still hot, though, lest they all get scoffed before you get the chance to sit down with a cuppa.)

Cookies are so easy to make. You can add just about anything you like into the basic mix - chocolate chips (add a tablespoon of chocolate powder as well, if you want to make them double choc chip), dried fruit, nuts, porridge oats, berries, seeds, coconut, sweets, toffee chips, muesli, ginger, spice, cinnamon, fudge pieces, Smarties, M&Ms ...

If you want extra luxury, you can coat the cookies in chocolate.

If you want chunky cookies, roll larger pieces of the mix and just flatten them down a little.

If you want many, many frugal cookies, roll them thin and bake them for a shorter time, or else slow bake them at a lower temperature if you want wafer thin, crispy biscuits.

Right, that's the cookie baking taken care of for this weekend and it has saved me from spending any money buying biscuits from the shop. Result!

Let me know if you try these and what you added to yours.

NYK Media


  1. The cookies look good. Can you email me a few?

    Seriously. Our hens and ducks are off lay at the moment. We're paying nearly thirty Euro's a month for nothing. I have it on good authority that it is something to do with the dark. Somebody suggested putting a light in their house? This is supposed to imitate the day light? Thirty Euro's would pay for a lot of eggs and biscuits. Any idea?

  2. Hope the hens start laying more soon!

    Great cookie recipe.

    Sft x

  3. The bicuits look good, I will pinch the basic recipe and see what I can add to mine.

    I have just got my girls back to almost full lay after a few weeks of less than a dozen a day by upping their corn ration and giving them lots of tonics in the form of returned calcium (crushed baked egg shells), garlic powder and seaweed concentrate added to their water. This has also helped their plumage after a rather severe moult. The small outlay on some of the above is already paying dividends in more eggs to sell.

    Can you not swap something for a couple of layers and make just a small run mink proof.

    Sue xx

  4. Thanks for the great cookie recipe. I've made a batch with cocoa powder and dark choc chips, and I've made them a bit bigger which has made 24 cookies. I'm also trying to slash my grocery spending in November so these are ideal.

  5. Those sound lovely :) sf x

  6. Dave, the birds need about 14 hours of light each day for optimum laying, hence the reason the commercial units are artificially lit. But it kind of defeats the purpose of having freerange hens if we pursue that method. It also means they stop laying at a younger age, having been forced to produce eggs outside of their normal seasons. Swings and roundabouts over thye course of the longterm.

    SFT, this is the same recipe I use for the oat biscuits that can be slow baked in oven once it's switched off after cooking 'whatever'. Rolled thin, they bake in minutes.

    Sue, the hens that were in the little 6' runs were all OK, although the wee minky bandit had done quite a bit of gnawing. I was beginning to think it had delusions of being a beaver! Have arranged to rehome some of the bantams at the end of the month and will then start working on a plan to secure the bottom of the garden, which is now off limits owing to the proximity of the burn (and invading mink).

    Crafty, the basic biscuit recipe works for most things and is great for using up all sorts of stuff. Somewhere, there's a post thyat will show you what happens when you add leftover blackcurrants - purple cookies! LOL Nice seeing you over on the forums for our 2012 challenge!

    Nic, I'm trying not to eat too many of these, as they don't do the diet much good. Oops! :)


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