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 to make 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

Burns’ Night special Cranachan

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.

I’m launching a separate page for Recipe of the Month to make a monthly baking Calendar for you. So, if you don’t get chance to visit UK's favourite Market in Doncaster each month, you can get the recipe here.

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! Let me know what you think of the new Baking calendar.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

“Heaven, I’m in heaven ....”

Ivy and our fabulous wedding cake
Christmas always has a tinge of sadness when there’s a well loved family member no longer around to celebrate the festive season. And so it was this year for us, when Grandma Abson’s niece, Ivy, passed away in early December 2013, aged 88.

Ivy followed in our great family tradition of expertise in home cooking. At this time every year, she would bake countless Christmas Cakes for family, friends and neighbours, all liberally laced with brandy. She adopted the family method of ‘letting her hand slip’. But her prowess extended well beyond producing tasty cakes, puddings, pastries and pies, into the realms of Cordon Bleu cookery. She loved to entertain, conjuring up succulent, mouth-watering dishes for our delectation. Ivy never did things by halves either. She followed various courses assiduously to develop her skills and became very proficient in sugar craft cake decorating and design, producing numerous wedding cakes over the years, including ours, with great artistry.

Ivy and Ron’s wedding 1950 

But as well as her culinary expertise, I’ll always remember Ivy for her great sense of fun in everything she did.  She loved dancing and was an ardent  'Strictly' fan, having spent her younger days travelling from her home in Manchester to enjoy the dancing spectacle at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. Her later years would be spent joining in the entertainments at every opportunity in her sheltered housing complex in Greater Manchester. It hit just the right note when we heard Frank Sinatra singingDancing Cheek to Cheek'  as we remembered her with much affection at her funeral. So, I’m dedicating this post to Ivy and raising a toast of celebration (a glass of your favourite Chablis) and thanks for her long life. We’ll miss you! I bet you’re baking cakes up there in cake heaven ....

Ivy celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 2012 in style

And, just a final note to the end of the year, in the grand tradition of home baking, I’m delighted to say that Ivy has passed her skills down the generations onto granddaughter, Rachel, who now also excels in cake making and decorating. Long live home baking! 

Rachel’s cake for Kieran’s 21st birthday 
Happy New Year everyone! Let the baking continue!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Make a special Christmas Gift

 What a brilliant idea! That’s what the customers said when they saw the basket of homemade edible gifts I was demonstrating at Grandma Abson's  Christmas Bake off at Cook N Dine the baking emporium of the North.
 I started off with Grandma’s homemade mincemeat  and soon the scent of cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg were wafting through the store. Once potted up and decorated, the jars make very attractive gifts!
I moved onto to Cranberry & Apple Chutney. This tasty recipe is proving to be a real hit this year and it’s recipe of the Month at Tasty Flavours in Doncaster Market.
Next was Aunty Emma’s Christmas Plum Pudding and a chance to stir the mixture and make a wish for next year. I showed how Grandma’s recipe can be microwaved to cut out hours of steaming.
 Mouth-watering Shortbread biscuits, using Christmas shaped cutters – stars, angels, bells and Christmas trees were simply decorated and wrapped up in small gift bags proved a popular choice.
Spare Almond paste or marzipan, left over from decorating the Christmas Cake can be turned into exquisite Chocolate Marzipan balls in a the twinkling of an eye. Dip the balls in melted chocolate and top with a simple edible Christmas decoration to make a very attractive gift.
 Finally, old fashioned Peppermint creams – so easy to make with icing sugar, peppermint extract and lemon juice (I omit the white of egg as in Grandma’s recipe on page 79 of her book and just use lemon juice and a splash of water to bind them) .
It all goes to show that making a special homemade gift is easy. Wrapped together with Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking book with lots more easy recipes, it’s a perfect Christmas gift combination!

Happy Christmas to everyone. 
Enjoy baking with Grandma Abson!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Tis the season for Christmas Cranberry & Apple Chutney

We've already got fresh Cranberries on the market so it's time to begin Christmas preparations with this easy Cranberry and Apple Chutney. It’s based on Grandma’s Apple Chutney recipe. The sumptuous red of the cranberries give it that real Christmas colour and the smells will get the Christmas season off to a good start. If you make a few jars and decorate them with ribbon, they will make lovely Christmas gifts for friends and family!  I’ll be giving you some more edible Christmas gift ideas over the next few weeks - alongside Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book, of course.


2 lb/approx 1 kg apples
1 lb/450g onions
250 ml white wine vinegar
¾ lb/350g cranberries
1 lb/450g demerera sugar
5 peppercorns or freshly ground pepper
2 tbsps ground ginger or 1 piece fresh ginger sliced and finely chopped

Chop up the apples and onions finely. Place in a large pan with the white wine vinegar and bring to the boil. Then simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the apples and onions are soft. Add the other ingredients and mix together. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring until the ingredients are tender. Allow to cool and remove the peppercorns. Spoon into clean jars and cover.”

Grandma’s tips :
To test if the chutney was ready, she would draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan. If it’s ready, the chutney must not flow back into the gap left behind by the spoon. If not, then check every 5 minutes or so until the gap is clear.  She also said that Chutney needs to cool slowly so the spices infuse and flavour the fruit. You can add more ginger and cinnamon to make it even spicier.
We love this recipe and serve it instead of Cranberry Sauce on Christmas Day. Let me know if you try it. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Spice it up

Spicy Apple Chutney
With the revival of interest in growing garden produce, there’s always the question of what to do with seasonal gluts of fruit and vegetables. Grandma had lots of recipes which show what did in her day when there was a surplus. She often made chutneys and pickles to last through the winter as a perfect side dish with hot and cold dishes.

So, when I was given a bag of ‘fallen’ apples by Pam and Tricia at the fabulous Cafe Med on Doncaster's famous Indoor Market, I went back to Grandma’s Apple Chutney recipe. I always remember that Grandma served this spicy accompaniment with pork pies and cold meats at Christmas.
‘Fallen’ apples
2 lb/approx 1 kg apples
1 ½ lb/675g onions
1 lb/450g dried apricots
1 lb/450g sultanas
1 lb/450g demerera sugar
2 oz/50g garlic
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsps ground ginger
1 tsp mustard seed
1 quart/ 1150ml vinegar

Chop up the apples, onions and apricots. Add the other ingredients and mix together. Place in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring until the ingredients are tender. Allow to cool. Spoon into clean jars and cover.”
Simmer the ingredients
Grandma’s tips :
Grandma chopped the fruit and onions finely or even put them through a mincer since she preferred the final consistency of her chutney to be thick and smooth.
To test if the chutney was ready, she would draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan. If it’s ready, the chutney must not flow back into the gap left behind by the spoon. If not, then check every 5 minutes or so until the gap is clear.  She also said that Chutney needs to cool slowly so the spices infuse and flavour the fruit. You can add more ginger and other spices such as mustard seed, coriander or cumin to make it even spicier.

A gift of homemade Chutney
There are more of Grandma’s recipes for Chutneys and Pickles in her book or e book Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking – it’s a perfect gift. You could even make some Chutney and pot it up with decorative ribbon as a homemade present for friends and family! 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Chocolate Week with Ma Bailey's Luscious Chocolate Brownies

It's Chocolate Week so let me introduce you to Sara, one of my friends from our Leeds University days where we studied languages together. We've kept in touch and from time to time, we meet and have great fun reminiscing as if it were yesterday. We still feel 19 years old in our heads!

Sara is a keen baker and from time to time sends me easy recipes to try. She writes :

“I discovered this recipe - now called 'Ma Bailey's Brownies' - when my boys were at school. The tradition continued and I made them each time they set off for university and for each visit during the term. The chocolate chunks stay sort of gooey in the brownies. These brownies has also been to Ireland, Lapland and Iceland. I am trying to see how far round the world I can get it! Today's bake is for visiting my son and his family near Lancaster."

125g/5oz butter
200g dark chocolate
175g/7oz soft brown sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
A few drops vanilla essence
50g/2oz plain flour
5ml (1 tsp) baking powder

Preheat oven to 180C, Gas mark 4. Line a baking tin 18cm /7" square with greaseproof paper. Melt the butter with 50g/2oz of the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of hot water. Put sugar, eggs and vanilla essence into a large bowl, then sift in flour and baking powder. Stir in the melted chocolate and mix well. Chop the remaining chocolate into rough chunks and stir into the brownie mixture. Spoon into the tin, spread evenly and bake for about 40 minutes until the cake begins to shrink from the sides and the centre is firm.

Sara’s baking tips :
This is what I do now - Melt choc in microwave then add butter and CAREFULLY finish melting them  together. Today's bake took an extra 10 minutes but has been known to be longer so don't panic! I cut the pieces in half again as it's rich and is usually for sharing! I still work in ozs but for the first time I just followed the metric today. Hope you try these homemade brownies. They’re really easy - the hardest part is waiting 40 minutes for it to come out of the oven!”

Thanks, Sara. We did and they are fantastic! I hope they go round the world as you said! How are you celebrating Chocolate Week?