A couple of weeks ago, I was sent the most beautiful book to read, The Art of Coorie: How to Live Happy The Scottish Way by Gabriella Bennett. With dreams of one day retreating to a cabin in the heart of Glencoe and with a fondness for fairisle and a wee dram, if every there was a country I’d turn my back on Wales for, it would be likely be Scotland. And coorie, the Scottish art of deriving comfort, wellbeing and energy from wild landscapes and convivial interiors, seems to provide the heart and soul that I’ve always found missing in ‘hygge’.
Maybe I’ve been seeking a Celtic connection for a sense of familiarity lacking in the Scandinavian alternative?
You see, I take my Harris Tweed hat off to the Scots. Their version of happiness is much like the Welsh in that it can be found in epic landscapes, blanket-strewn interiors, hearty meals with friends and bone-warming drinks with strangers. What can I say? The climes are harsh at this time of year and village pubs are most welcoming.
Coorie makes sense to me, and not just because I can pronounce it - hygge, hoo-gah, whatever-gah. I nodded along to Gabriella’s ‘coorie commandments’ in chapter 3, my favourite being ‘thou shall not fear the cold’, and the advice to don both layers and a hip flask. And the short but very sweet chapter dedicated to coorie during the festive period is perhaps the most charming that I’ve ever come across. Oh, the homemade gift wrap and decorations. Pages 256 and 257 will have homespun-loving traditionalists swooning. I won’t spoil the surprise. Treat yourself to the book!
On Friday, with a rare and oh so appreciated day of little to nothing marked on our family calendar, I decreed that this 1.5 acres of Welsh soil would become an honorary Scottish hamlet for a wee while (with a sprinkle of Lithuanian magic … but I’ll get to that later) and experience full on coorie for a few hours .
Sporting autumnal woolies and well-worn boots, I took to the land, well, walked around the garden, to breathe in the cool air, marvel at the subtle changes in the colour of the leaves, see if I could spot a conker or two gracing the forest floor and pick a few of the remaining apples not used in my husband’s cider venture for a baking project or two.
Heading indoors with a few rosy gems, I remembered a recipe in The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book that I’d been wanting to try for ages: Apple and Currant Crumble Bars. While I’m of the opinion that any puddings containing fruit are not actually a pudding (only chocolate and cream things are appropriate puddings in this house), I’m okay with fruit being hidden in extremely sugary snacks. So while these bars are not a pudding, they’re most definitely the perfect sweet treat for an afternoon tea in front of the fire on a day dedicated to coorie.
Ingredients (for 12 bars)
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200g unsalted butter (softened)
250g soft light brown sugar
120g rolled oats
300g Granny Smith apples
4 tbsp cornflour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
Preheat your over to 170C and line your tray or dish with baking parchment - the dish I used was smaller than the suggested 22 x 31 cm one so I had deeper crumble bars than in the book.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in to a mixing bowl.
Add the softened butter and rub together until you end up with a squishy breadcrumb consistency.
Stir in the sugar and the oats (I used cheap and cheerful porridge oats)
Pop half the mixture in to your tray/dish.
Peel and core the apples (I can’t vouch for the difference using Granny Smiths will make as the ones on our tree are of an indeterminable variety - if you recognise them, let me know), then cut them in to thin slices and cover with cornflour (plain flour seemed to work a treat for me, though) and the spices.
Arrange the slices in lines on top of the oat mixture in your tray/dish and sprinkle the currants on top.
Spoon the remaining oat mixture over the apples and currants and smooth down. Don’t make it too neat though. The bars look better with a slightly more rustic finish. Far more coorie!
Pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on top and then cut in to slices when cool(er).
So, homegrown apples picked, crumble bars made, fire lit, tea a-brewing, it was time to take inspiration from Gabriella’s chapters on coorie textiles and coorie style to lay the perfect coorie tea table. While I’d love to say that the linen I used was from Scotland or Wales, I actually turned to my friends, MagicLinen, over in Lithuania for the perfectly patterned cloth and napkins.
I’m not sure what the Lithuanian equivalent of coorie is but MagicLinen pretty much embody it. It’s a family run business with each piece hand cut with tailors shears and sewn locally in a small studio. The products are made using a pure stonewashed linen which is thicker and more durable than cotton, and are designed to be passed down from generation to generation.
Aren’t they beautiful? They’re incredibly affordable, too. And if Pinterest is your thing, you are going to fall head over heels for MagicLinen’s imagery and styling. Their Instagram account is a daily source of inspiration for me.
I chose a striped linen tablecloth (I’m saving up for the bedding set in the very same fabric) and a set of aquamarine linen napkins for my afternoon tea table and the relaxed textures added such a cosy feel to my normally minimal coffee table in front of the fire. You can just about spot that the tablecloth has been folded over to fit. The reason why? It’s close to 3 metres in length and is going to grace our Christmas dining table come December (I’ll share my ideas for that in another post nearer the time … it’s going to have a very coorie feel to it).
What do you think? Convinced of coorie? Loving the look of MagicLinen? Or do you simply want to join me on the sofa for a hot cup of tea and generous slice of crumble? Come on over. I’ll throw another log on the fire.
The book and the table linen were gifted to me but all views are my own.