Welcome back! Avalon, Glastonbury, England; Earth Mother, the Arthurian legends, the mists of Avalon (and at the right time of the year there really are mists), Katherine Maltwood and the Glastonbury Zodiac, labyrinth, the Michael and Mary aspects of a leyline, Gog and Magog, an underground entrance to the land of the Fae, the healing waters of the red and white paths, oh!, do not get me started. We are here today to keep to the topic of cookies.
Avalon has long had an association with apples. The most common translation of the word is “Isle of Apples” and apples have been used in art and story telling to depict love, fertility, beauty, temptation, deceit and other concepts in many many different cultures both past and present.
In Roma culture, apples are cut sideways to reveal the five pointed star in the center of the apple called the “Star of Knowledge”. This pentagram is also a sign of the planet Venus and during the four years it takes for Venus to complete a full orbit, the path traced is an outline of the five-pointed star. Another reason one interpretation of the pentagram is as a symbol of harmony, love and perfect union.
Early summer apples, the kind you eat fresh and don’t store well are just beginning to ripen at this time of the year and make a “practically perfect” addition to our Lammas Harvest table.
Today we will have some fun with Apples of Avalon cookies, round up the kids and let’s get baking.
You will need:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour
a pinch of baking soda
1/2 cup dried apple bits
Once you have everyone together, try forming a circle and getting everyone to take a few deep breaths before starting. The intention is to bring focus to the task at hand while letting everyone shift to a place of gratitude for the harvest before starting.
Cream butter and add sugar, molasses and cinnamon. Confession time. I opened the cupboards to make these and found I didn’t have brown sugar…. so I improvised. If you have brown sugar at home then 1/2 cup brown sugar will fit the bill just fine.
Mix until well blended and add 1 cup flour. Mix well. Add the last cup of flour, soda and apples, combine. If your kitchen is hot, pop dough into the fridge for 30 minutes. Once it is a little cooler, flour a smooth work surface and roll half the dough to 1/4 inch thick.
Now, you have a number of choices depending on your time and inclination.
1. Simple circles, using a glass as a cookie cutter.
2. Apple cookie cutter if you have one.
3. Apples without a cookie cutter.
To make apples ( and pumpkins for that matter ) without a cookie cutter, first cut a circle using a glass with a 2 inch diameter. Now take a “V” shape out of the top and bottom of the circle. The cookies will look more like an apple if the “V” on top is a bit larger than the one on the bottom. Use your finger to gently round the corners of the dough where the “V” was cut out. Use left over bits to fashion a stem and add to the top of the apple. Press lightly down to make sure the pieces stick together. Nature love diversity so it is just fine if each apple is uniquely shaped.
You will be able to see the apple bits in the dough and the bits will make the cookies a little bumpy when they come out of the oven. Now, you can call it a day here and bake, or you can sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and pop them in the oven at 350 degrees. When lightly brown around the edges, about 15 minutes, remove from oven, move to cooling rack and allow to cool. Do not over bake unless you like your apples extra crunchy.
Teachable moments arise often in the kitchen and this is a great time if you have someone or ones with you to share your love of baking and Lammas traditions. Start a conversation, ask open ended questions, share stories…. create memories. A song from Findhorn in Scotland says, “Where two or more are gathered in My Name, there I am in the midst of you. Be My Name”. Who will you invite in?
“Many hands make light work” as long as some actual work gets done and there are cookies left at the end. If you are going all out then having extra hands to finish off the cookies can be helpful.
For the icing you will need:
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 -2 cups icing sugar
1 -2 Tbsp. milk
red food colouring, if possible try to find vegetable based ones without the chemical additives.
extract flavouring, optional
green jelly candies.
Cream butter. Sift and add icing sugar, mix well and slowly add milk. How much will depend on the heat in your kitchen and the softness of the butter. Add colouring and mix until well blended and not streaky. You are looking for a soft consistency that flows easily over the cookie without dripping off the sides. I did not add additional flavouring as I wanted the apples and cinnamon to be the main flavour of this cookie. Ice your cookies and then add a leaf to each one before the icing dries. This will help the leaf stay in place. Make sure cookies are fully dry before storing or they will stick together. (Under daylight the icing was apple red.)
To make the leaves, roll out the candies with a rolling pin. In this case we started with some fish shaped jelly style candies and rolled them flat. Under supervision a knife was used to cut simple leaf shapes from the flattened candies.
Below are six different ways to finish off Apples of Avalon cookies, all dependent on what tools are easily available to you. With or without cinnamon sugar or icing, an offering to the harvest Gods and Goddesses of your tradition. Place some on your Lammas altar.
Apples of Avalon Cookies from My Kitchen Wand