Spiced orange and walnut biscuits

It’s actually ridiculous how many things I’ve made out of oranges and walnuts over the past few weeks. If you’ve been following, you’ll know that I’m house-sitting on a farmlet on the Fleurieu Peninsula, and attempting to eat only homegrown, local, seasonal produce. So, being winter, there is a lot of citrus gracing the fruit bowl, and having a home-grown supply of walnuts is keeping us happy in the nut department.

Luckily, this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop is themed “Nuts about sweets”. Winning. I have nuts. I would have been in trouble if it was apples or something. I mean, I’m resorting to mandarines in my porridge…

Due to my current restrictions on processed and packaged food, anything resembling butter or margarine was out, and sugar is kept to a minimum. This poses a small challenge when making desserts, but as a result, these vegan tasties have an almost cake-like texture, which is wonderfully offset by the crunchiness of the walnuts.

These are good have-with-coffee-or-tea biscuits, which is exactly what I’ve been doing all week. And because they’re actually pretty healthy (or not too unhealthy), you don’t have to feel bad if you have several tea breaks each day!

Spiced orange and walnut biscuits

3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raw sugar (add a tad more if you want them sweeter)
applesauce (1/2 apple + 1 tablespoon water, whizzed together in food processor)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 fresh orange juice
zest of one orange
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon cardamon seeds, ground
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, cardamon and cinnamon in a large bowl to combine. Add oil and applesauce and rub together with fingertips to achieve a breadcrumb consistency. Stir through walnuts.

In a smaller bowl, whisk sugar, milk, orange juice and zest until well combined, then add to dry ingredients. Stir until well combined, then place dessert-spoon sized portions on prepared baking tray and flatten slightly into biscuit-shaped discs. Bake for around 15 minutes or until golden.

This post is part of the July Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, hosted by Nic from Dining with a Stud. To check out what other sweet treats are being created with nuts, click the icon below and scroll down.

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Orange and wattleseed muffins

Are you across wattleseed?

It is brilliant, and what’s more; an Australian native. What could be better than cooking with plants that are native to your own backyard? Though there are hundreds of species of Acacia, only a few are useful in the culinary world. The one I’ve heard used most frequently is Acacia victoriae, and in this case, it is roasted and ground. In this form, it can be used to make a delicious brew – often called wattleseed ‘tea’ – with a taste kind of similar to coffee (but not quite…)

Last week I was pondering the change of season, and the somewhat scarce selection of fruit that comes with winter. It’s citrus, really… oranges, mandarines, lemons, limes. That’s not to say that other fruits aren’t available. Supermarkets make sure of that. But I’m really keen to pursue local and seasonal produce, and with that comes a brilliant opportunity for creativity, especially when your favourite ingredients aren’t around. I’m also going to mention here, that I’ve recently come into a supply of small-batch-milled wholemeal flour courtesy of my lovely boy’s family farm in the Clare Valley. This is pretty well as close as I will ever get to home-grown wheat/flour, which is a tad exciting. I also retrieved some oranges from the tree at said boy’s house this morning, which leads me back nicely to the citrus. So I was contemplating the potential pairings with orange, and my mind went to the packet of wattleseed laying almost forgotten in the meat safe. After some quick consultation, I was assured that this combination would work, so I set about figuring out what makes a good vegan muffin.

I have to admit to being pretty pleased with the result here. Light and fluffy muffins that are not too sweet – great with a bit of butter/spread as a breakfast or morning/afternoon tea treat. The orange and wattleseed actually go really well together. Being a flavour that can’t really be described, I suggest you find yourself some wattleseed and give it a try. They are also vegan and very low in fat, if these are qualities you seek in a muffin. Otherwise, feel free to substitute with milk if you have a cow etc. Happy seasonal baking!

Orange and wattleseed muffins

2 cups wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tablespoons ground, roasted wattleseed
approx 1/4 cup applesauce*
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup soy or other non-dairy milk
1/2 cup orange juice – (approximately one large orange)
rind of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract

*To make instant applesauce, combine one apple (cored and roughly chopped) with 2 tablespoons of water in a food processor until smooth. This yields the correct quantity for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 180C and grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan.
Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and wattleseed in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
In a small bowl, mix applesauce, sugar, soy milk, orange juice, orange rind and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and well combined.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and whisk together until combined.
Spoon mixture into muffin pans until 3/4 full, then bake for 18 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.