November is a dark, damp month. Morning skies are inky, sleepy with the orange glow of streetlights. The nights are long and blustery, the last of autumn’s leaves withered to feathers at the road side. Winter breathes its first bitter breaths in November, a warning to all to head inside and prepare for the shortest days of our year. This gloomy month would seem bleak if not on the right side of Christmas. November is given grace in being the first month of colder climes, the charm of our changing seasons can induce appreciation for even the dreariest of weather.
Crackling fires, steaming cups of coffee, cinnamon scents; these pleasures are surely worth the drizzle outside? As the evenings begin to close in I take joy in the small things, I stack piles of unread books by my bedside and wiggle my toes in my socks as I whisk hot milk on the stove. The Danish actually have a word for this snug feeling, it’s called ‘hygge’ (pronounced as a gruff hoo-guh) and it represents the concept of relishing life’s cosy, little pleasures. In the winter months ‘hygge’ can be encapsulated in the quiet glow of candlelight. I feel particularly ‘hygge’ as I remove my scarf and settle into my seat at the window of a steamed-up seaside café. Next time you’re huddled under an umbrella with a loved one, or you hear the distant ‘click’ of a freshly boiled kettle, allow yourself to acknowledge the warmth of that ‘nesting’ feeling.
For me there is no ingredient more synonymous with dreary weather than the humble oat. Oats are cold weather food. There is something about these creamy grains that seems to dry the damp and warm our hearts. Their versatility means that we can scatter, bake or stir them into a myriad of ‘hygge’ inducing dishes. Milled oats can be peppered with cinnamon and cooked slowly with milk for a comforting bowl of porridge. Nubbly, rolled oats are baked with honey to form crunchy clusters of granola, or rubbed with butter and brown sugar to crown a juicy crumble. I’m even inclined to blend oats into a coarse flour and add it to bread and pancake recipes for sustaining bite and fibre.
For the rest of November I’ll be celebrating the humble oat right here on this humble blog so keep a look out for further recipes as the days get darker. These oaten, spiced biscuits are so simple to make. Bake a big batch and fill the biscuit tin ready for any cosy moment that might come your way. Enjoy them with your morning coffee, take them to the beach with a thermos of tea or share with friends after dinner with mugs of hot chocolate.
Oat and Spelt Biscuits
125g salted butter (slightly softened)
75g demerara sugar
75g spelt flour
75g milled oats
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
75g dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4
- Line or grease a large baking sheet.
- Blend butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.
- Combine flour, oats, spices and cranberries.
- Mix wet ingredients with dry, working into a loose dough.
- Use a tablespoon measure to scoop out portions of the mixture, form into balls and flatten slightly on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Remove from the tray and allow to cool.
- These should keep well in a sealed tin for at least a week.