Whole wheat digestive cookies: a tribute to the Brontë sisters
I have long wanted to tell why I call myself Ann Bronte (without umlaut), and it seems to me that I have found the opportunity to kill two, maybe three, birds with one stone: explain the origin of my pseudonym, mention the place where I learned about the existence of “wholemeal cookies” and, in line with the latter, pay a small tribute to my admired Charlotte, Emily and Ann Brönte, who undoubtedly had to do with the pseudonym I use on this page. I want to start by pointing out that Ann’s name was not freely chosen but was given to me, since it was the only one available on the web. But today I am proud that chance has forced me to call myself Ann Bronte, for reasons that I will mention later.
I recently made the “digestive” wholemeal cookies, the recipe for which comes from the great English chef Gary Rhodes. These cookies have the goodness of many whole products, which, in addition to being healthy, have a special taste that recalls the English porridge of yesteryear (“porridge”); for me the aroma given off fresh from the oven evokes, like few things, the intimate smell of lar. Today I have decided to upload them to the web, because I think it is a great recipe, which you will surely like, for its simplicity and great results; the truth is that I have loved taking them again; and they have transferred me to my youth and the place where I first tried them: Haworth, the remote village, where the Brönte sisters lived. I have to confess that on that occasion, these cookies did not drive me crazy: their appearance seemed vast and dark, with a strange flavor, and their texture seemed rough to me (not at all comparable to the cream cookies of my house); But even so, instead of buying a thorn commemorative thimble, I opted to take a large box, advertised as “The Brontë Biscuits”, and stamped with the famous portrait of the writers. When I returned to Spain, and to my surprise, my whole family loved them, perhaps because the integral was then very unusual. I have been back to Haworth at least four times, I don’t know if looking for the cookies or looking for the past of my admired writers and of course I have always bought my box of cookies.
You already know what I like to remember those moments associated with the discovery of a culinary product or the circumstances that surround it. So many years ago from that purchase that, when I started writing this short comment, I decided to locate those cookies; but, to my bewilderment, all my searches were unsuccessful; My conclusion was that what was not on the Internet is that it did not exist; But, on the verge of giving up, I found the comment of an English journalist, Jeanette Winterson, who alluded to the existence of those cookies:
I am always a little bit surprised to be eating Bronte biscuits on the train to Leeds; Shakespeare Sponge Fingers have not yet materialized in the shops of Stratford, but perhaps it is only a matter of time, and ‘materialize’ is the right word. October 11th, 2006.
Indeed, the cookies that I remembered had ceased to be made, but I did find an old tin box from that time; Later I found out that they were now marketed in individual packages, perhaps because with the crisis they were more affordable for tourists.
When I remember the village of Haworth I can’t help but remember my admired Brontë; And from here I would like to pay you a small tribute. Since “Jane Eyre” fell into my hands, I have revered the novels of Charlotte, Emily, and Ann Brontë. I have always thought that books change, or at least help shape people’s lives. This happened to me when I read “Jane Eyre”. I was then in England in a boarding school, and as I was always a very bad athlete, I used to take refuge in the library, where one day I stumbled upon a rather fine book, with hard covers, cover in mauve and white stripes and reading simplified, whose title was “Jane Eyre”; It was not totally unknown to me because I had seen my favorite aunt immersed in her reading. That book was my downfall because from the moment I opened it, I did not release it until the dreaded end came, which left me with honey on my lips, and I couldn’t help but look for the original version. If my command of English was sufficient for reading adapted for adolescents, the original was already another matter; his lexicon was not limited to 5,000 words, but the English language was presented before me in all its vast extent; which was no obstacle to, with the invaluable help of a dictionary (of which I am a fervent defender), not miss a single word of the history of that shy, intelligent and passionate girl who, after a thousand adversities, was hired as governess in the mansion of the powerful and abrupt (and why not, glamorous!) Mr. Rochester. A mysterious secret seemed to be hidden in that mansion, which manifested itself with strange cries and laughter during the night … Well, I don’t continue … because this novel is a must-read, if you like to read.
Sometimes I wonder why that book was almost a before and after in my reading; perhaps due to the impact that, for the first time, a woman was the main protagonist of longings, reflections and frustrations attributable only to male characters. When Jane says: “Reader, I married him” in the first line of the last chapter (Sorry to gut the ending, but it is inevitable to speak of this passage) the first turning point on the role of women in world literature, and perhaps one of the milestones of feminism, of which possibly Charlotte Brontë was not fully aware; Let’s think that the beginning of the feminist movement of the Pankhursts took place twenty years later. (I have always thought that there is nothing that exemplifies ideology in transitivity as clearly as this simple phrase.)
It is anecdotal but revealing that when one of the great writers of the 19th century English novel, William Thackery, met Charlotte Brontë, he could not believe that “tiny, delicate, serious, little lady, with fair straight hair, and steady eyes “(was that author, Jane Eyre, impressed almost more than the enormous amazement that reading the novel had caused him.
And after Jane Eyre, all her other novels came, and later I discovered Emily in “Wuthering Heights”; and thanks to Mrs. Gaskel’s wonderful biography I learned about the unfortunate family life of the sisters, and finally, I could not resist reading the work of Ann Bronte. And in all of them, I found the same common denominator: the value of freedom, moral integrity and, above all, the spirit of improvement.
Perhaps to understand the extraordinary genius of these women there is no choice but to say a few words about Haworth, that small village in the west of Yorkshire County, remote and far from any urban center, where the inclement weather and the winds that meet in she, together with its terrible sanitary conditions, made it an unhealthy place, very conducive to tuberculosis; This lonely place had only one main street, steep and narrow, where were the three stores that supplied basic necessities: the pharmacy-drugstore and store for everything, the one with tea and small knick-knacks, and the pub, in which Outside, the reckless and sullen Emily, on so many winter nights, patiently waited for her brother Branwell, who staggered out of the drink and opium, to affectionately take him home.
At the top of the slope, the vicarage (“The Parsonage”) was located, isolated and surrounded by tombs, perhaps at the root of the tubercular illness that the five sisters suffered; Almost next to the house was the church of “San Martín y Todos los Santos”, where his father preached daily. The photograph below is a painting painted by her friend and biographer Mrs. Gaskell, and contains an image of what was the narrow scope of their lives.
From this sad enclave you could see the open and arid moors, where the girls in their wanderings and forays felt free and let their marvelous imaginations fly; those changes of the heather represented, in some way, the metaphor of their own lives: from the arid and dry steppe, to a thick purple carpet of wild flowers, and to the supernatural landscape of frost and snow. It was this place of freedom that led them to cross the threshold of the real to perceive visions of the fantastic that populated their unusual stories; and today they belong to the best legacy of English literature.
It is impossible to make a synthesis of the literary importance of these women; I can only think of joining the vast criticism around them, which highlights their portentous literary talent for creating extraordinary stories, difficult to imagine from an experience as confined to a place like Haworth, away from everything and everyone, and that they would abandon on rare occasions. From my modest reading of his works, and if I had to define in a single line the individuality of each one of them, I would say that Charlotte is the one that communicates the human passions with the greatest force “from one soul to another soul”, as the Thackeray novelist. Emily is the visionary rebel, where the natural and the supernatural coexist, and finally Ann (about whom, for a long time I had a quite mistaken opinion), portrays human suffering like no other, who fights with her eternal self-denial. Perhaps for this last reason, Ann has been the furthest from my ideas and feelings; until, not long ago, I reread “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”, and discovered another Ann; the Ann who writes the first feminist novel on gender violence; where the protagonist dares to slam the door in the face of her husband, a depraved and wealthy alcoholic, from whom he runs away with his son; in short, the flight from a “respectable” social position towards poverty and nothingness, with which she is not only breaking an unbreakable Calvinist norm, but is committing a crime that can lead to prison. This novel has not only reconciled me to Ann, but has presented it to me as an advance; therefore, I am very proud to bear his name.
I suppose you are wondering what all this has to do with my humble whole grain cookies, I would say that everything and nothing. When I take the whole-grain cookies out of the oven, I can’t stop thinking about my admired, sometimes baffling, and always great, Brontë sisters, and the strange miracle that life is for everyone!
100 g. whole wheat spelled or whole wheat flour
one00 g. oatmeal
50 g. brown sugar (I have done a little more, about 60 g because I am very “larpeira”
1 teaspoonful of royal yeast or half of baking soda
a pinch of salt
100 g. Butter
2 tablespoons of milk
1. Preheat the oven to 180º.
2. Crush the oat flakes without leaving a powdery texture.
3. Mix all the dry ingredients and then add the butter so that there is a crumb or sand texture.
4. Now I add the milk to create a moist consistency, and you can mix it by hand, or in a mixer.
5. Knead the roll just enough to form a rectangle that you wrap in paper and refrigerate it in the fridge for 15 minutes so that the dough is firm.
6. When you take it out, it will be quite a delicate dough so it is important to carefully pass the roll and make discs of about 6-7 cm. with a thickness of 2 to 3 mm. (I make them a little thicker).
7. Place the discs on a baking sheet lightly, on a tray covered with baking paper and leave in the oven preheated for 15 minutes, until golden.
8. Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes before transferring to a source.
These cookies will be better if stored in an airtight container. You can leave them for almost a week. However, once you’ve done them, it would be very rare for that much time to pass!
BON APPÉTIT AND GOOD LUCK !!!!!!!!!!