Monday, 30 June 2014

On Yer Bike avec Grandma’s Yorkshire Lemon Cake

It's on Yer Bike for a summer of cycling festivities here in Yorkshire with Le Grand Départ Tour de France 2014. The greatest cycle race in the world begins its first stage in Yorkshire on 5 July and, with an audience of 3.5 billion across 188 countries and an expected 3 million visitors to our region, we’ll be showing off our Yorkshire grit.  

Here’s Grandma Abson’s Lemon Sandwich Cake - just the thing for a summer’s day and what could be better than homemade Lemon Curd in the filling!

Lemon Sandwich Cake

3 eggs and their weight in each of butter, caster sugar, self raising flour (This is usually around 6 oz or 175g of each ingredient)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp baking powder
Milk to mix (usually around 2 tbsps)

Preheat the oven to 180°C, Mark 4, 350F. Line the base of a 2 x 20 cms/8 inch cake tins with non-stick baking or greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. You can use a food mixer or processor to do this. Beat the eggs and add a little at a time, adding a tablespoonful of flour if the mixture shows signs of curdling. Sieve the remaining flour and fold into the mixture with the lemon zest and enough milk to make a dropping consistency. This means the mixture is soft enough to fall from a spoon in a couple of seconds. Put the mixture into the 2 cake tins and bake for about 25 minutes until the cakes start to shrink from the sides and a cake skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. Place the tins onto a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then turn the cakes out onto the wire cooling rack and leave until cool. Then make the Butter Cream.

2 oz/50g butter
4 oz/110g icing sugar + icing sugar for dusting
4 tbsps lemon curd
2 tbsps (approx 1 fl oz/25ml) milk
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the lemon curd and milk and mix well. Spread the butter cream on the top of one cake and place the other on top.  Dust with icing sugar on the top cake and then sprinkle the lemon zest.

My own links to France go back to when I was aged 14 on the Yorkshire-Lille Exchange.  It was a mammoth feat of organisation, well before the days of social media and Eurostar, when hundreds of Yorkshire school children welcomed French pen friends into their homes for 3 weeks every July. These intrepid Yorkshire youngsters then made the long journey by train with their pen pals to Lille where the French families were waiting to take them all over the Nord and Pas de Calais. It was my first introduction to la cuisine française and the first time that I’d ever ridden a bike and so my love of France began.

It was fantastic being a Tourmaker on Stage 2 Sector 20! It was a long day but these special mini Tour de France cakes kept us going! 
Bon appétit! Et vive le vélo! 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Not just Scones, we've got Fat Rascals in Yorkshire

Fabulous Fat Rascals
We like to think we know a thing or two about food in God’s own country Yorkshire and of course, top of the list is our own Yorkshire Pudding. But we don’t stop there. Where else could you find not just Scones but Fat Rascals, which have been around here in Yorkshire since Elizabethan times?  Fat Rascals are like Scones  but usually dome shaped with lots of variations with the dried fruit. I suggest you put in the dried fruit sultanas, raisins, currants, cranberries, apricots – whatever you like best!
Here’s my Grandma Abson’s recipe :

8 oz/225g (or 8 heaped tbsps) self raising flour
4 oz/110g butter
2 oz/50g caster sugar
4 oz/110g of a combination of raisins, sultanas, currants and glace cherries
1 oz/25g flaked almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon or orange
7 tbsps milk or milk/water
2 eggs
1 oz/25g demerara sugar

Sieve the flour and salt and rub in the butter. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon or orange zest and dried fruit/glace cherries. Beat the eggs and milk and add to the mixture to make a soft dough. Roll out to ½ - ¾ inch thick and cut into rounds with a pastry cutter. This makes around 10 to 12. Place on baking tray and sprinkle a little demerara sugar on the top of each one. Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes (425F, Mark 7, 220C).

Once you’ve baked Fat Rascals I'm sure you'll agree they deserve to be on the podium for a top prize! Tell me what you think of this recipe. 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mrs W’s Easy Chocolate Cake

Inspired by Grandma’s baking, Mrs W. writes to me after I delivered a Grandma Abson baking talk at her Ladies' Club sending her favourite family Easy Chocolate Cake recipe.
 Dear Meryl
I’ve made this recipe dozens of times without a failure. V. good for people who eat dairy free cake without eggs. Hope you enjoy it. All the best. EW
P.S. Really enjoyed the talk.

Easy Chocolate Cake
10oz/275g self raising flour
½ level tsp salt
3 level tbsps cocoa
6oz/175g sugar
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ pint/300ml milk
¼ pt/150ml corn or vegetable oil
3 level tbsps golden syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate for filling and decoration

Preheat the oven to 180C/Mark 4/350F. Sift the flour, salt, cocoa and sugar into a mixing bowl. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in a little milk. Add to the flour mixture with the rest of the milk, golden syrup, oil and vanilla extract. Mix well. Pour into 2 lined 8inch/20cms cake tins. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. When cool sandwich together with Chocolate Icing and decorate with melted chocolate or dust with icing sugar.

Meryls’ tip : You can  Butter  Cream for the filling or Grandma’s Chocolate Icing in Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book page 110.

Butter Cream Filling
3 oz (75g) butter
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
3 oz (75g) Icing sugar
Milk to mix

Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the milk.

I hope you enjoy a slice of Mrs W’s Easy Chocolate Cake. For more Chocolate Cake recipes, check out the Recipes page here on Grandma Abson’s Blog. Which is your favourite? And don't forget to keep sending me your family recipes - we're building a baking legacy here!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Make time for Dorset Apple Cake

 Dorset Apple Cake
One of the great things about doing presentations and talks about Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking legacy is meeting people and picking up more traditional family recipes to share. After a recent Grandma Abson chat and taste session, Barbara, who comes from Bournemouth passed on her Great Aunt Madge’s recipe for Dorset Apple Cake. The recipe has been in the family for generations.

Dorset Apple Cake
12oz/340g self raising flour
6oz/175g butter
4oz/110g soft brown sugar
 3 cooking apples (preferably Bramley)
3 eggs
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp mixed peel or zest of a lemon or orange
Milk to mix
1 tbsp caster or demerara sugar for topping

Rub the butter into the flour. Peel, core and chop the add the apples into chunky peices and add these and the soft brown sugar to the mixture. Add the beaten egg, spices and mixed peel. Put into a 9 inch/23 cms cake tin and sprinkle the sugar on top. Bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/Mark 4 for approximately 1hour.

Meryl’s Tip : you could double the quantities and bake this as a tray bake then cut into squares. For a fruity decoration, thinly slice another apple and layer the slices on the top of the cake.
Barbara told me that many Dorset Teashops used to serve this recipe warm with butter or clotted cream as part of an afternoon tea time treat. That’s sounds delicious!

There are more of Grandma’s recipes with apples in the Recipes page of this Blog and even more in Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book. What’s your favourite recipe with Apples?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Lemon Curd is the tops!

A recipe for Lemon Curd proved to be a winning formula to get Team Lemon Segments into the top 12 entries at the recent Enterprise Fair at Doncaster College and University Centre, organised with the support of Young Enterprise. Team members were students following an Independent Living Life Skills course. Their tutor explained that their experience in the competition has hugely lifted their confidence, self awareness and business skills. 
The students made Lemon Curd under hygienically controlled conditions to Food Safety standards, worked out costings and profit margins and organised a Trade stand to display their products. It looked fantastic! 

Here’s their amazing recipe :
Lemon Curd
4 eggs well beaten
4 lemons juice and zest
450g/1lb sugar
110g/4oz butter
Heat all ingredients together in a bowl over hot water until thick (coats back of spoon). Allow to cool. Pour into sterilised jars.  Cover and label. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months. Makes 2 x 1lb/450g jars.

With no colourings, additives or e-numbers in sight, the recipe proved to be a simple formula with a winning taste. I’m delighted they’ve agreed to share their recipe here with you. Congratulations to Team Lemon Segments! Grandma Abson would have been very proud of them!  Make a jar or two and see for yourself ! 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Cumberland has its snaps

We always think of the famous tasty sausages linked to Cumberland so when Veronica gave me this old family recipe for Cumberland Snaps I had a quite a surprise. When I baked this recipe, I found the ancient county of Cumberland in the northwest of England had produced another winning formula!

Cumberland Snaps
4 oz/110g caster sugar
8 oz/225g butter
2 tbsps golden syrup
 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp hot water
 8 oz/225g plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 oz/ 50g rolled oats

Pre heat the oven to 160C/325F/Mark 3. Melt the sugar, butter and syrup in a pan over a low heat. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the hot water. Sift the flour and ginger together and mix with the rolled oats. Then pour in the mixture from the pan and the dissolved bicarbonate of soda gradually to make a dough. Roll the dough into small balls (about the size of a walnut) and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

They really are delicious and such an easy recipe to bake. Well done historic Cumberland! Grandma loved collecting and passing on recipes and I’m delighted to keep up this tradition. Have you a tasty local recipe to share? #keepbakingalive

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A special taste of Afternoon Tea for Mother’s Day

I’ve been experimenting with Grandma Abson’s Victoria Sandwich recipe again to create a special treat for Mother’s Day. My friend Charlotte asked me to come up with a recipe design for a homemade ‘All in One Afternoon Tea’ Cake for her mum as a surprise for Mother’s Day. Since Charlotte’s mum likes all sorts of cakes, I came up with the idea of a 3 or 4 tiered sponge cake with each tier baked in a different flavour and finished with different butter cream fillings. You could say a cornucopia of tastes in a slice!
As a basis for the mixture I used Grandma Abson’s foolproof Victoria Sandwich  recipe with 8 inch/21 cms cake tins for each tier or layer.

Basic Sponge Cake for 2 tiers
3 large eggs and their weight (= approx 6-7oz /175g-200g) in each of
6 oz /175g butter 
6oz/175g caster sugar (*see below for Toffee or Butterscotch use soft brown sugar)
60z/175g self raising flour (sieved)

For 3 tiers use 5 eggs and weight of these in butter, sugar and flour
For 4 tiers use 6 eggs and weight of these in butter, sugar or flour
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Mark 4. Line the cake tins with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs and add to the creamed mixture. Fold in the flour. Now divide the mixture into 2, 3 or 4 depending on the amount of mixture and number of tiers you have chosen.

Create different mixtures as you wish all at one if you have a large enough bowl and several cake tins. I prefer to do this in batches
For a Victoria Sandwich tier add a little milk
For a Lemon Cake tier add the zest and juice of ½ lemon
For an Orange Cake tier add the zest and juice of ½ orange
For a Chocolate Cake tier add 1 tbsp cocoa powder, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp black treacle and a little milk to mix.
For a Coffee Cake tier add ½ dsp coffee essence or powder (Meryl’s Tip : You must grind coffee granules to a powder first!)

*For a Toffee or Butterscotch Cake tier – use soft brown sugar instead of caster sugar.
Put the mixture into the cake tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean or the top is firm to the touch. Place on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack and leave until cool.

Butter cream fillings (This will be enough for 3 tiers of cakes)
4 oz/110g butter
8 oz/225 icing sugar
A few drops vanilla extract
1-2 tbsps tepid water or milk

Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and water or milk.

Now choose your fillings :
For a Victoria Sandwich use raspberry jam and butter cream.
For a Lemon Cake add the zest and juice of ½ lemon or 2 tbsps of lemon curd to the butter cream
For an Orange Cake add the zest and juice of ½ orange to the butter cream
For a Chocolate Cake tier melt 1 oz/25g of plain chocolate into the butter cream.
For a Coffee Cake add ½ dsp coffee essence
*For a Toffee or Butterscotch Cake use soft brown sugar instead of icing sugar.

Spread the butter cream (and raspberry jam for the Victoria Sandwich) on the top of one cake and place the other on top.  Carry on with the different tiers and fillings as you have chosen. If you wish you can cover the sides and top of the cake with butter cream.
 Add a Mother’s Day decoration and your home made Afternoon Tea gift is ready to serve for your special Mum!  Don't forget a card too!

Or try a traditional Simnel Cake for Mothering Sunday as Grandma used to bake. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A Taste of the Irish with Flakemeal Biscuits

Flakemeal biscuits
Some time ago, my saxophone teacher’s sister, Padraigin sent me her family recipe for Flakemeal biscuits all the way from Ireland. I’ve been saving this recipe to make as a special treat for St Patrick’s Day on 17 March. It makes about 36 biscuits and the recipe is so simple but very tasty!
Tommy’s Flakemeal biscuits
225g/8oz Flakemeal (Porridge Oats)
225g/8oz butter or margarine
110g/4oz plain flour
110g/4oz sugar
75g/3oz coconut

Put everything in a bowl and mix well. Make into dough. Roll out onto a floured surface about ½ to 1 cm thick. Cut out rounds with a cutter. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C/Mark 4/350F.
Padraigin writes : “These biscuits are my husband's favourite. I make them at different seasons of the year. I need to go and get the dinner sorted so I can get bit of sewing in later. All the best!” 
She is very gifted at sewing and makes beautifully crocheted hats and blankets.
Here's Kathleen's Apple and Nut Tea Loaf recipe - another Irish treat!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh  (la ale-lah pwad-rig son-ah jeev) which means ‘Happy St Patrick’s Day’! Don’t forget to send me your favourite family recipes to keep traditional baking alive! 

Monday, 10 February 2014

It’s Cut and Come Again Cake

 Cut and Come Again Cake
I’ve been asked so many times if Grandma had a recipe for this popular traditional cake.  She classed this as a ‘useful’ light fruit cake and made it often but sadly it wasn’t written down in her collection. So, I was over the moon when Sheila gave me her easy family recipe :

Cut and Come Again Cake
6oz/175g butter
12oz/340g self raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
4oz/110g soft brown sugar
8oz/225g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, currants, raisins, mixed peel, cherries)
3 eggs (beaten)
3 tbsps milk

Grease and line an 8 inch/21 cms cake tin with baking paper. Rub the butter into the flour until it’s like breadcrumbs.  Add the mixed spice, sugar and mixed dried fruit.  Add the beaten eggs gradually and then the milk until well mixed. Turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Bake in the centre of a preheated oven 180C/350F/Mark 4 for about 1¼ -1½ hours. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

Grandma’s baking tip : This is one of those to test with a cake tester or thin cake skewer to see if the mixture has cooked. Stick it in the centre of the cake and if there is no mixture on it when the tester is taken out, the cake is cooked. If there are traces remaining on the cake tester, then it needs further baking time.

Meryl's tip : I made this in a round cake tin as Sheila suggests but you can make it in a loaf tin and dust with icing sugar if you wish.

This cake is just right with an afternoon pot of tea. I reckon you’ll be cutting and coming back for more with this cake! Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Cranachan Burns’ Night special

Fiona's Cranachan
My friend, Fiona who is Scottish, and an amazing cook shared her family dessert for Burns’ night last year Prune & Whisky TartBut the standard dessert which follows the Haggis and the one we all know best is Cranachan. It’s a mixture of whisky, cream, honey and toasted oats and the consistency is more like a mousse. Here’s Fiona’s special family recipe:

2 oz (50g) medium oatmeal or rolled oats
2 tbsp of malt whiskey
2 tablespoons of runny Scottish honey
½ pint (300mls) double cream
6 oz (175g) raspberries (or you could use other soft fruit such as blueberries or blackberries – frozen will be fine but allow time to thaw.)

Toast the oatmeal/rolled oats under a hot grill for about 2 minutes. Whip the cream until thick and stir in the honey and malt whiskey. Add the raspberries and fold in the toasted oatmeal and spoon into small glasses.

You can add some biscuits such as shortbread Shortbread or any of the simple sweet biscuits in Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book. We like Oat Ginger biscuits or Flapjack like the ones in the photo.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

It’s new year, new , new ...

Tim and Jane's Tasty Flavours has moved to a new location in the International Food Hall in Doncaster Market. Fortunately, the new stall is less than 50 metres away from the old one and the range of baking ingredients to make Grandma’s traditional homemade recipes is as wide as ever.

Grandma Abson’s ‘Recipe of the Month’ board has pride of place too. We’ve been collaborating on this project for just over a year now. Tim says the recipes are proving to be very popular with his savvy customers who snap photos with their smart phones and tablets. We do our best to link each month’s recipe to whatever is in season that month and mainly use ingredients from Tim and Jane’s emporium of baking ingredients and fresh fruit and vegetables. We want to promote everything that’s good about our local market and support #loveyourlocalmarket and #shoplocal. At the same time we’re keeping Grandma’s legacy of homemade baking alive with easy recipes which don’t need a lot of ingredients and taste just as scrummy as when Grandma used to bake.

To start the New Year, January’s Recipe of the Month is St Clement’s Pie. Here’s the story behind this famous pie, often eaten to ring in the New Year. Just as in the nursery rhyme, it’s made with oranges and lemons and is very similar to Grandma’s Lemon Meringue pie in her Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book.

St Clement’s Pie
8oz /225g Shortcrust Pastry (8oz/225g flour, 4oz/110g butter)
Zest & juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
4oz /110g caster sugar
5 tsps cornflour
2 eggs (separated)
½ pint/ 275ml water

Make  Shortcrust PastryLine a pie dish with the pastry and bake blind for 10 minutes (see Grandma’s tip). Put the lemon and orange zests, juice and 2oz/50g sugar in a pan. Heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Mix the cornflour to a paste with 6 tbsps of water. Stir into the mixture with the rest of the water until blended.  Let it cool a little. Add the egg yolks and mix gently till blended. Pour into the pastry case. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and add the rest of the sugar. Spoon the meringue on to the filling and make swirls. Cook in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. (300F, Mark 2, 150C)

Grandma’s tip : Bake it Blind This describes cooking pastry before adding a filling. Line the dish with pastry. Then line the pastry with baking paper. Cover with dried beans or peas.  Bake and remove the paper before adding the filling. Keep the beans or peas to reuse for baking blind.

Meryl says : This pie is delicious to eat hot or cold. I love it when the mixture is still hot, just set and the meringue is freshly peaked from the oven. 

Happy New Year and #KeepBakingalive!