A date with spelt

Bake spelt cookies with nuts and dates for breaking the fast and entertaining in the succa.

Oat abd walnut cookies (photo credit: Boaz Lavi)
Oat abd walnut cookies
(photo credit: Boaz Lavi)
Nelly’s kitchen, located in the Jaffa flea market, has been drawing vegans and health food fans for a few years now. Chef Nelly Karpner, who in her own words is “addicted to health food,” finds new ways to serve gourmet health food to her devoted clientele.
Karpner studied in New York, where she worked in a raw food restaurant. Returning to Israel, she held workshops in various cooking schools until she decided to open Nelly’s Kitchen, where her fans can stock up on her delicious creations.
As it is customary to break the fast with a cake or a cookie before heading home for a meal, we asked Karpner to give us a few of her favorite cookie recipes. She chose to focus on cookies baked from whole spelt flour, available in health food stores and some supermarkets.
Spelt is an ancient wheat grain known for its nutritional value and health benefits. It has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor, similar to whole wheat flour. It contains some gluten, so one of the reasons that spelt is rather popular is that it is easy to substitute it into wheat recipes without compromising the texture. But the gluten in spelt flour is a little unusual.
Unlike wheat flour, which often needs a long kneading time to strengthen its gluten and give the bread structure, the gluten in spelt flour breaks down fairly easily. This means that it is important not to overcooking mix it at the risk of ending up with a crumbly texture.
Oat and walnut cookies
Oat and walnut cookies (Boaz Lavi)Oat and walnut cookies (Boaz Lavi)
✔ 100 gr. soft butter ✔ 3⁄4 cup brown sugar ✔ 1 egg ✔ 1½ tsp. vanilla extract ✔ ½ cup whole spelt flour ✔ 3/4 tsp. baking powder✔ Pinch salt ✔ 1 ½ cups oats ✔ ½ cup crushed walnuts Heat oven to 190°.
Mix together butter and sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. In a different bowl, sift flour and baking powder.
Add salt and oats and mix.
Add the egg mixture into the dry mixture and mix well. Add nuts and mix again.
Make small balls from the mixture and place on a lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Note: You may add more nuts, raisins or dried cranberries.
Peach jam and crumble bars Amounts for a 33x27 cm. baking dish
Peach jam and crumble bars (Boaz Lavi)Peach jam and crumble bars (Boaz Lavi)
✔ 2 heaping cups whole spelt flour ✔ ½ cup brown sugar ✔ Zest of 1 lemon ✔ Pinch salt ✔ 1 tsp. Vanilla extract ✔ 200 gr. cold butter, cubed ✔ 2 Tbsp. cream ✔ 1 cup peach jam Heat oven to 180°.
Line a baking dish with parchment paper.
Sift flour into the food processor bowl and add sugar, lemon zest, salt and vanilla. Add butter and process in pulses only until a crumbly mixture forms.
Set aside 1 cup of the crumbles.
Add cream to the remaining mixture and mix until a smooth pastry forms.
Transfer the dough onto the lined baking sheet and flatten to cover the bottom of the dish.
Prick with a fork in a few places.
Spread the jam on the dough and sprinkle the crumbles on top.
Bake about 30 minutes or until the crumble is golden.
Remove from oven and letcool before cutting into squares.
Nut and cranberry drops
Nut and cranberry drops (Boaz Lavi)Nut and cranberry drops (Boaz Lavi)
✔ 200 gr. soft butter ✔ 1 cup brown sugar ✔ 1 tsp. vanilla extract ✔ ½ tsp. lemon juice ✔ 2 eggs ✔ 2⅓ whole spelt flour ✔ 1 tsp. baking soda✔ ½ tsp salt ✔ 1 cup dried cranberries ✔ 1 cup chopped walnuts Heat oven to 180° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using the kneading arm of a mixer, mix butter and sugar for 3 minutes at medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla, lemon and eggs and mix. In a different bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Lower the mixer speed to low and add he dry mixture. Knead until smooth. Add the dried fruit and nuts.
Create small balls from the dough and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are golden.
Pecan and maple cookies
Pecan and maple cookies (Boaz Lavi)Pecan and maple cookies (Boaz Lavi)
✔ 1 cup finely ground oats ✔ 1 cup whole spelt flour ✔ 1½ cups ground pecans ✔ ½ cup coconut oil ✔ ½ cup natural maple syrup ✔ 1 tsp. vanilla extract ✔ Pinch salt ✔ 25 pecan halves for decoration Heat oven to 180° and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix together oats, flour and ground pecans.
In a different small bowl, mix coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and salt.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix well.
Create 25 small balls and place on the baking sheet.
Decorate each ball with half a pecan. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden.
Date holiday cookies Dough
Date holiday cookies cookies (Boaz Lavi)Date holiday cookies cookies (Boaz Lavi)
✔ 3 ½ cups whole spelt flour ✔ 3⁄4 cup coconut oil ✔ 1 bag baking powder ✔ 1 egg yolk ✔ ½ cup water✔ ½ cup cane sugar ✔ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Filling ✔ ½ package natural date spread with no added sugar (available at supermarkets) ✔ 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Garnish ✔ 2 Tbsp. powdered cane sugar Heat oven to 160° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Knead together all the dough ingredients.
Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each part into a thin leaf.
Spread 1 leaf with ½ the date spread and sprinkle ½ the walnuts.
Roll into a roulade. Repeat with the second leaf.
Using a sharp knife, make diagonal slits along the roulades.
Place both roulades on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Slice the roulade using the slits.
Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
■ Recipes and photos courtesy of Nelly’s Kitchen 28 Mergoza Street, Jaffa (03) 681-3802