Book Reviews

Eat right

The following paragraph is taken from the introduction to ‘Dutch-style gingerbread loaf with spelt and honey’ from Eat Right, by Nick Barnard. This is my sort of book.

“The perfect companion to this treat is good butter. A lot of butter. All bread is but a vehicle for butter, and this gingerbread is no exception. Best eaten Danish-style, so that when you can see the teeth marks it’s known as tandsmor, meaning tooth butter. You should barely be able to see the gingerbread for the thick layer of nourishing unsalted, preferably raw, butter from pastured cows. For more about butter and its life-enhancing nourishment, see pages 31-33″.

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Barnard founded the Rude Health company, whose sprouted buckwheat flour we used to use in pancakes (circa two menus ago) and whose almond milk we’ve always used as a dairy alternative. I had a sense that it might be that rare thing, an ethical company whose product reflects authentic values, and it was heartening to have that confirmed in this brilliant book (this post is not sponsored by Rude Health, by the way).

Everything you need to know about where your food should be coming from and how to prepare it so that it is both enjoyable and nourishing is here. Why do we insist on using organic, whole milk and fresh butter from Acorn Dairy at Mill Kitchen? Why do we love the Leeds Bread Co-op so much for their brilliant bread? The answers are in here. This is a book filled with enthusiasm for eating which made me think happily back to my time at Ballymaloe, whipping Jersey cream the colour of sunlight into proper butter, nursing bubbling sourdough starters, or standing in the early morning kitchen, cleaver in hand, with piles of chicken carcasses for the daily stockpot. This is what food is really about, for me.

I don’t need a lot of motivation to get into the kitchen, but this book had me ordering kefir grains online and I now have my first batch fizzing away in a corner. I want to get a starter on the go so I can make sourdough pizza next week. And I made the gingerbread. When it got a little stale I fried it – in butter, of course – and had it for breakfast with yoghurt, banana and hazelnut butter. Now that’s inspiration.

Dutch-style gingerbread loaf with spelt and honey

I halved the book’s original recipe to make one loaf, which is the quantity I’ve listed below. I then realised I had no loaf tin and made it in a baking tray, which worked fine but was of course done a lot quicker than suggested (if you do this, I would check it after 15 minutes in the oven).

Butter, for greasing
1 egg
200ml milk
250g spelt flour (preferably Rude Health sprouted)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp gingerbread spice mix (see below)
Sea salt
75g raw honey

Gingerbread spice mix:
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds (from about 8 pods)

First make the spice mix by mixing all of the spices together – this will make quite a bit, but it will go well in porridge, hot drinks etc. The taste will be better if you grind the whole spices yourself. Also note that the original recipe includes 1/4 tsp white pepper, which, not having any, I left out.

Heat the oven to 180c and butter your tin (a 450g loaf tin or 23cm x 23cm square tin). If your honey is set, you will need to warm it gently to make it runny enough to mix.

Whisk the egg and milk together in a medium-sized bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the spelt flour, bicarbonate of soda, gingerbread spice and a big pinch of salt. Gradually add this to the eggs and milk and stir together gently.

Stir in the honey and mix well. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.

Bake for 30 minutes. Allow it to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack. Enjoy, preferably warm, with butter.

From ‘Eat Right’ by Nick Barnard, Kyle Books, 2016

 

 

 

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