daisies | apple & pear buckwheat crumble

bwheat pear crumble 2-1.jpg

Dream big, they said. Not to me in particular, maybe even when I was young I came across as a cynic. But it has been said, to generations of sweet believers with fresh eyes and big imaginations. It’s something a lot of people grow up with - as soon as you can see the world beyond pre-school and your living room, you start to. Dream. Not in the sense of a restless mind’s nightly wanderings but very clear, conscious choices. You choose that your dreams are to swim with dolphins, to go backstage at a certain show, to climb a mountain. Maybe you tear articles out of magazines, do research and keep a folder, or the dreams grow wild, like daisies in your head.

bwheat pear crumble 4-1.jpg
bwheat pear crumble 6-1.jpg

But then your horizons change - they grow. You expect more from yourself, the people around you, the world. It seems like we are hard wired to take things in. We absorb so much and shift our perspectives and so we change our dreams. No escape from the constant barrage of new. You’ll be sitting in traffic and a few meters ahead there’s this amazing car - and you’ll think, damn, that’s my dream car. Flipping channels on a normal Tuesday evening, stumble upon an obscure show set in maybe Tuscany, and it’s at the top of your list. That train chugging along carrying a mismatched cargo of dreams since childhood just keeps adding more weight.

bwheat pear crumble 7-1.jpg

We are fickle. We change our minds, we accept that very little about us is concrete and that's ok. It's the funny thing with dreams. There are some people that cling onto theirs - that childhood idea that's grown with them from just imagination into something tangible. The dream that's been riding the train through all the valleys and the peaks, the highs and lows. And there are so many others that never make it and are left lying by the tracks, bright and visible. Forgotten daydreams; filaments of childhood fantasy; wanderlust on cold, dark winter nights; or ecstasy from sunny Saturdays when anything seems possible. 
They leave a map, markers along the rail tracks, little pieces of who we are, how we’ve changed. How we’ll keep changing, how we’ll never really know what we want. And the seeds of those daisies keep growing untamed and unruly in our minds.

"True, I talk of dreams, the children of an idle brain,
as thin of substance as the air and more inconstant than the wind"
Mercutio to Romeo & Benvolio (R&J, Shakespeare)


bwheat pear crumble 8-1.jpg

Happy December. Time for gingerbread everything and everything in gold, red and green editions. There is still some nice fall/winter fruit around, perhaps not the most photogenic, so perfect for fruit desserts like these. With the spices and the dark sugar it kind of has that apple pie vibe without rolling dough or such niceties.
You could use all one type of flour in the crumble if you prefer, this recipe isn’t super fussy.
Love xx

bwheat pear crumble 10-1.jpg

apple & pear buckwheat crumble

1/2c buckwheat flour
1/2c brown rice flour
1/3c oat flour
1/4tspn salt
1/4c coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/3c milk of choice, room temperature 
1/4c coconut sugar 
1/2tspn pure vanilla extract
1/2tspn cinnamon

//filling
600g-800g mixed apple & pear (I used more pear than apple)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tspn arrowroot powder / similar starch
1 tspn each cinnamon and nutmeg 
1/2 tsp ground ginger 


Preheat the oven to 180’C, 350’F. Prepare a baking dish with around 2L (2 quarts-ish) real estate, so to speak. An 8x8inch square pan would work.
In one bowl combine all dry ingredients for the crumble topping. Add the coconut oil, milk and vanilla and stir to combine using a fork. Continue until the dough reaches a sort of coarse-sand texture with some small chunks. Set aside.

For the filling: Chop the apples and pears - you don’t have to peel the fruit and the pieces can be chunky. In your baking dish toss together the fruit with the sugar, lemon, spices and starch. Using your hands is a little messy but effective here.
Crumble the topping over the fruit, by hand is again easiest. It should be spread relatively evenly over the fruit.
Bake for between 25-40 minutes, until the fruits have softened and the crumble is golden. This will vary depending on the shape of your dish and the juiciness of your fruit.

Serve as is, or with yogurt (or ice cream…) if you’re feelin’ fly. You really should try this crumble warm once. Not least for the smell.
The crumble will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days and also freezes and reheats well.

bwheat pear crumble 11-1.jpg

eagerness to heal | maple + pear buckwheat scones

pear scones 1-1.jpg
pear scones 2-1 copy.jpg

I actually have no idea how this happened but a couple things of days ago I managed to hit my knee on the side of my bed. It was a really hard hit and oh god my knee was ringing so badly I had to sit down and when I looked at it there was a nice little stream of blood. Rich and red, velvety like errant drops of red wine on the edge of a coaster. Not that much blood, but my knee was open. When was the last time that happened?  I mean I cut myself now and then, on cans of coconut milk and the like but it's been a very, very long time since I last 'grazed' a limb. I was looking at that knee, at the liquidy bubbles, and there were so many other scars. All the knocks and bumps and scrapes. I heal pretty well and pretty fast but I suppose there's always a mark left behind. Knees, ankles, elbows, mostly. I can't even remember where some of them came from, especially on my knees... I remember taking a curve too fast on a scooter once and taking a knee instead. Burns from astro-turf back in the days when I played football and a tackle got too rough. A sketchy rental bicycle in Holland once and a gravelly side of the road and braking suddenly and tarmac and tears. 

pear scones 4-1.jpg
pear scones 8-1.jpg


There are dark patches on the back of my heels from blisters, the constant tearing open of soft skin and the body's resilience, its eagerness to heal. From socks slipping in soaking wet shoes and tiny sharp stones from the forest trails, years of winter cross country running, sitting in the warm car finding my feet bloody and raw. As I got older trying out new fancy shoes and running for the bus through the pain and sitting on the upper deck texting and licking my wounds. Elbows that have seen school fields and playgrounds and ski slopes and ice rinks and cobbles and lawn. 

pear scones 18-1.jpg
pear scones 17-1.jpg
pear scones 16-1.jpg

They're supposed to be just layers of dead skin and cells and scabs and anti-bodies. But there are layers of memories and learning the hard way, proof of a life fully lived. Pain and healing and down time and recovery and monkey bars and rental bikes. I've never had stitches but my dad has a solid line over the knee and they must be... throwbacks, to his teenage days of football and penalties, referees and adrenaline. I have a scar on my hand from plastic casing, opening a new set of barbies. I used that scar when I was very young to tell my right hand from my left; that scar is novelty and creativity and trying not to cry when my parents left me at school. I have three thin lines over my left ankle from friction between the anklets I refuse to take off and a ski boot. Even through the thermal socks I could feel the dull pain at the end of the day, as the slopes emptied out and the bars filled up. Those tiny lines of light skin... sweat, stupidity, plain fun, courage. A throbbing knee and a bloodstain were a strange way for me to be reminded that my life is actually pretty full.  

"Underlined passages, fragments of happiness that traverse the body and raise bridges all around" Nicole Brossard

pear scones 12-1.jpg
pear scones 19-1.jpg

Maple syrup, spices, pears... pretty autumnal? Feels much more like it, too, even all the Norfolk farmers have broken out the jackets and wool hats. Doesn't leave much hope for the rest of us, but I digress from scones. I know I've made a bunch of scone recipes before but they're really easy to customize and are nice snacks or maybe breakfast treats with a little honey and almond butter. These are the first time I made scones gluten free and the blend of flours worked really well, they were maybe a little fragile but nothing disastrous and also turned out really light. The buckwheat flavour is subtle but there, I always like it with these kind of spices. Anyways I seemed to have veered miles off my posting schedule but for some reason it's taking me some time to settle back into the school routine of studying and reading textbooks. Seems to get harder ever year... maybe a symptom of having been in the game too long?

Happy fall. Stay warm. xo

pear scones 20-1.jpg
pear scones 10-1.jpg

Maple and pear buckwheat scones

makes 12-18 small/medium scones   // gluten free

2 cups (200g) oat flour
1 1/4c(200g) buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
1 tspn ground nutmeg
1/2 tspn ground ginger
1 free range egg
2 tablespoons (30g) coconut oil, melted
4T (80ml) pure maple syrup
1c (240ml) plain yogurt of choice
1 ripe pear, diced small 


Preheat the oven to 180'C, 350'F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In another small bowl beat together the egg, oil, maple and yogurt.

Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. As the dough begins to come together, fold in the chopped pear. The dough will be thick - once the pear is evenly incorporated, use your hands to gather the dough into a ball.

Lightly flour a work surface and press the dough out into a rectangle. Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide the dough into 9 squares, then cut each square on the diagonal so you have 18 triangles, or as you prefer. 

Lay the triangles out on your baking tray; they don't spread much. Bake 15 minutes or so until lightly brown and the top of each scone is firm. Serve as they are or with some honey and nut butter. So so good.

They taste amazing out of the oven but keep well for 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge, or will freeze and defrost well. They actually taste ok half frozen too, I found out. 


scones for every season

like a cold snap | pear-cocoa muffins with a walnut crumb

nutmeg and pear | honey-sweetened pear-cocoa muffins with walnut crumble (gf+dairy free)
nutmeg and pear | honey-sweetened pear-cocoa muffins with walnut crumble (gf+dairy free)

"L'hiver", he said to me. "Il fait froid". I had a working understanding of French, I understood more than I could speak. Winter, he'd said, it's cold. And it was bitter, Belgium was snowed in. The flakes had fallen, thick and hard for the past few days, it was Friday afternoon. Our first snow day. I think we almost died when we heard school was cancelled. Our bedroom was the loft room so the sloped windows were blacked out and the garden had become - just white, like Jack Frost had been visiting. The skeletal ribs of trees were lightly dusted, the whole garden looked soft and downy, it was magic. There was a sweet hush, a feeling of coziness, that the neighborhood was under a soft quilt.

Our house was on top of a small hill, the driveway was at least 250m long and very steep. Since school was cancelled anyway, we persuaded our dad not to start shovelling - we were going sledding. We didn't have those nice wooden sleds, rather these plastic things, almost like saucers, that you just sat on, pushed off, curled your legs under and hoped for the best. They made for a pretty exhilarating ride and pretty wet clothes. So we spent the next few hours happily running up the driveway, finding new and more perilous ways to 'ride' those sleds.

Our neighbors were an elderly couple who lived at the bottom of that hill. Number 6 was a charming white cottage, mint green shutters, a small wooden deck, a row of tidy trees. They kept two sheep in their hilly garden, a few greenhouses and all winter I'd watch the smoke rise from their chimney, smell the veggie soup. They often spoke in Dutch with my dad, I knew they were nice people, but I was a shy 12 year old who didn't speak much of the language, I'd offer a wave and a smile when we passed them. The man's name was Frans and he'd come out along his snowy driveway to check his mailbox, which is where my sister and I crash landed every time our sleds brought us down. I knew he spoke both French and Dutch and under pressure to say something, I think I mumbled 'bonjour', he'd said hello, big smiles, weather talk for the 2 kids who enlivened the neighborhood. I think he was happy, to see us scrambling around in the snow, the town was aging, we brought with us the shrieks of laughter and spontaneous joy that add something to a white Christmas. After that he'd often wave, and we started to bring Therese and Frans muffins. Nothing fancy, maybe banana, blueberry if we were feeling creative, just a friendly neighbor thing.

In their garden they grew beautiful fruits and vegetables in weathered glasshouses. the vines were heavy with purple grapes, green stalks slumped under the weight of tomatoes and zucchini in summer, when they'd bring the overflow of their produce. Quiet, hardworking people who'd toiled away for years, actually living for a while in what became our house while they worked to build their own. They'd made something out of that small, hilly patch of land.

nutmeg and pear | honey-sweetened pear-cocoa muffins with walnut crumble (gf+dairy free)

I grew up fast in those years. Snow went from being a fun novelty to an added chore, 4am we'd be out in -15 degrees darkness, listening to the tune of a Siberian wind that ate through our ski jackets. The charm quickly faded, and so did Frans. Dementia gets the best of them. It was fast, sudden, bitter, like a cold snap. My first funeral, gray February, dark spirits, black clothes, stone village church. He'd written us a letter, probably one of the last he wrote, he thanked us for the muffins, said he remembered us. Therese would visit him at the care home often, and we'd go down to the cottage, with muffins. To share with Frans, we'd say. And he remembered us as the two girls with the snow and the hill, the sleds. That winter had been years ago, I was way too cool to play in the snow, I preferred to clear it, salt it, watch it melt. I wondered what Frans would think, the melting snow made me think of childhood, giving way under the grit that life throws at it.

nutmeg and pear | honey-sweetened pear-cocoa muffins with walnut crumble (gf+dairy free)

Till the day we left Belgium we went to see Therese. We branched out from muffins to tea - Therese loved tea, we'd buy it whenever we went anywhere new. Peppermint tea from Tanzania, earl grey from England, Darjeeling from India all passed through the doorway of that stone cottage. We'd talk about frans sometimes (my Dutch had improved to monosyllables at this point. It's not so hard to say 'ja' is it?) and she'd always say, whenever she brought the muffins and said it was from the snow girls, his face would light up, like that weak winter sun.

I have a little folder in my desk drawer. A few birthday cards from my sister, some from my grandparents and my dad. The rest are letters from Therese. She writes in her spidery script, I write back in my broken Dutch. If there was one person who I wish could see this blog, it's her. It doesn't snow much here, but when it does, I think of that house, when they were both there, the smell of a wood fire and the small figure of Frans, fetching logs, him raising a pale hand in greeting. Bittersweet, just like the winter.

nutmeg and pear | honey-sweetened pear-cocoa muffins with walnut crumble (gf+dairy free)

And if there was one person who'd love these muffins it would be Frans. A gluten and dairy free, honey-ish muffin with a walnut streusel is sort of a far cry from those muffs but hey, proof of my improvement as a baker. This recipe makes quite a few muffs, but it's that giving season. You could give some away - maybe you know an elderly neighbor who's spending their first Christmas alone? Or there's the Amazon delivery guy who brings you a parcel at 9pm on a freezing Friday night when you're sitting in front of a fire feeling smug/snug. Or you could freeze some, or just eat them, they're mostly fruit, if you need persuasion. If you don't want/need them gluten free, I've added a spelt flour variation in the notes under the recipe. Chocolate, pears and substitutions? I spoil you. The crazy starts now, you ready? Wishing you a warm + cozy festive season, give a lot if you can, stock up on salt. Jeez I'm a cynic. Go string up your lights, this grinch did plans to do sothis weekend! Hugs guys xo


PEAR-COCOA MUFFINS WITH A WALNUT CRUMB

// dairy & gluten free // makes 12-14 medium muffs

A cozy cold weather muffin, light from seasonal pear and slightly sweet with honey, but rich with cocoa. Sprinkle with a nutty crumble that's a nice contrast to the fudgy muffin


3/4 cup (68g) oat flour, certified gf if necessary
3/4 cup (98g) buckwheat flour
1/4 cup (50g) natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (14g) flax meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 free range egg
1/3 cup (80ml) milk of choice – I used almond, use what you have
3 tablespoons (45ml) honey
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45ml)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 medium pears (about 400g) ripe but firm pears, grated

// crumb topping
Heaped 1/4 cup walnuts (35g), chopped
1/4 cups rolled oats (24g)
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar *
1 tablespoon soft / room temperature coconut oil

preheat your oven to 180’C or 350’F. Line about 13 muffin tin – holes, evenly over 2 trays.

start by making the crumb topping. Add all the ingredients to a small bowl, mix with your fingers till the oil is no longer clumpy and the mix looks sandy. Leave in the fridge till you need it again.

in a large bowl, mix the flours, flax meal, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder till evenly combined

in another medium bowl, add the honey, vanilla, oil, and milk, whisk till well combined; add the egg and whisk again

add the wet mix to the the dry flour mix and gently combine – once evenly moist, add the pear and again gently fold to combine

add about 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) to each muffin case, they can be filled quite high . Sprinkle a heaped tablespoon of streusel on top of each and pat it down gently, to adhere.

bake for about 20-22 minutes, till the top of the muffin springs back when touched. Because of the moisture of the pear, they always appear ‘underdone’ if you test with a skewer, so check the tops. The moisture is what makes the muffin so fudgy and special

they keep in an airtight container for about 3 days, but the extra freeze well in feeezer bags.

notes

*Turbinado sugar is also known as raw sugar, which it is, essentially (it’s a sneaky one- in the UK It goes under demerara sugar).  Where you want some texture, you’ll often find turbinado – crumbles, streusels, I also use it in cookies and pies. It’s a pretty golden brown color with big grains and is very unrefined, which is my jam of course. It’s made by simply crushing sugar cane and dehydrating the juice so it retains all the minerals and vitamins which is pretty sweet for sugar (lame pun). It’s also easy to find at any supermarket, I can find the supermarkets own brand.

You can use any nuts you want in place of the walnuts, hazelnuts would be good too. And of course, the streusel is entirely optional, but fun! For another option, you can use 1 1/2 cups + a heaped tablespoon (175g) spelt flour instead of the gf flours and flax. I’ve tried it, they are the tiniest bit less fudgy but no less great and maybe easier for some of you.
I think you could halve this for about 6-7 muffins if you’re ok with having half an egg hanging around – whisk the whole egg and weigh it, add half. Use the other half in scramble eggs or I think you could keep it in the fridge for a few days for egg wash for pies or scones? Never tried, just a thought.