Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Wake up the taste buds with Lemon and Ginger Loaf

Lemon and Ginger Loaf
Here’s a recipe from Grandma’s collection of traditional baking which has a brilliant flavour combination. Both lemon and ginger are well known old fashioned remedies to uplift your mood and banish the winter blues. So, here’s a recipe to put a spring in our steps. It’s a perfect companion to an afternoon pot of tea or coffee and goes down superbly with a Lemon and Ginger tea infusion!

Lemon and Ginger Loaf
110g/4 oz butter
175g/6 oz caster sugar
Grated zest of 2 lemons
2 eggs (beaten)
175g/6 oz self raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
Milk to mix
Crystallised ginger
25g/1 oz granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Pre heat the oven to Mark 4, 350F, 180C. Grease a 1kg/2lb loaf tin.  Cream the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Mix in the flour and the ginger. Add a little milk to soften the mixture so it drops off the spoon.  Put the mixture in the loaf tin and smooth the top. Decorate the top with pieces of Crystallised ginger. Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes until risen and firm on top.

Prepare the lemon syrup by heating the lemon juice and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Once the cake is out of the oven, pierce the top with a cake skewer and pour over the lemon syrup. Leave the cake in the tin until cool.

Meryl’s tip :  Wrap the remaining lemon in Clingfilm and it will keep in the fridge for a few days to use in cooking or baking. Or squeeze the lemon juice and freeze until required.

Monday, 16 February 2015

‘Ello to Yorkshire Brack

Yorkshire Brack
We’re very proud of our Yorkshire heritage, especially where food is concerned. When I went to talk to a local group about Grandma’s baking, Barrie proudly showed me his Brack tea loaf on his smart phone. Although I am a Yorkshire lass, I hadn’t come across his Yorkshire Brack recipe before. I’ve amended Barrie’s recipe slightly by reducing the amount of sugar and adding a little lemon juice to the mixture. There’s no fat in this loaf and it keeps well for a few days – that’s if you can resist it!

Yorkshire Brack
150 ml/¼ pint hot tea (preferably Yorkshire Tea *)
225g/8oz sultanas
110g/4 oz raisins
110g/4 oz currants
50g/mixed peel
75g/3 oz demerara sugar
1 egg
225g/8oz self raising flour
 1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix together the dried fruit and sugar and soak in the hot tea. Cover and leave overnight so the fruit becomes plump. Add the egg to the mixture and beat well. Stir in the flour. Line a ½ kg/1lb loaf tin. Put the mixture into the tin and bake in a preheated oven 160 C, 325 F, Mark 3 for about 1½ to 1¾ hours. 

Meryl says : *To make this loaf, it does taste best when the fruit is soaked in Yorkshire Tea of course but you can get a different flavour if you use Assam or Earl Grey teas.
Barrie told me that his wife had sadly died a couple of years previously and that she was a great cook. He’d decided to start baking. He had picked up his wife’s Bero recipe book and was working his way through it! But his favourite recipe is Brack, which can be described as a tea bread. I’ve now found Ginger Brack where you add a tsp of ginger and a tablespoon of black treacle to the mixture.
Many thanks to Barrie for sharing his recipe – have you got a recipe to share? If so, please send it to grandmaabson@gmail.com

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Valentine Biscuits for your Heart’s desire

 I've been using Grandma’s popular Shortbread recipe to bake Valentine biscuits for the Recipe of the Month at Tim & Jane’s Tasty Flavours in our local Indoor Market. Tim loves glacé cherries so I popped a cherry on each biscuit but you could use crystallised ginger pieces or almonds instead. 

 All you need is a Valentine shaped cutter 
Here’s the recipe : 
Valentine Shortbread biscuits
10 oz/ 275g  butter
1 lb / 450g plain flour
6 oz / 175g caster sugar
2 yolks of eggs
Glace cherries to decorate

Rub the butter into the flour and add the sugar. Then add the egg yolks and work into the flour as quickly as possible, making a dry dough. Chill for around 15 minutes then roll out to about ½ inch/1 cm thick and cut into Valentine shapes. Put a cherry on top. Bake for 25 minutes in a slow oven. (300F, Mark 2, 150C). Makes about 30 biscuits.   

Some more ideas for Valentine baking
 Check out these Valentine Gingerbread biscuits  
or Oat Ginger biscuits from Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking
or bake a heart shaped cake like this Valentine Cake.  

Your Valentine won’t be able to resist the appeal of home baking straight out of the oven!

Tell me about a favourite recipe you’re baking for your Valentine? 

I’m supporting BHF’s wear red http://wearitbeatit.bhf.org.uk/ this month.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Clementine and Ginger Cake

 It’s always good to start off the New Year with a healthy recipe and this year I’ve created a cake with 5 clementines. I’ve based it on Grandma’s very popular Marmalade Spice Cake  which always gets a great shout out whenever I take it to talks and demonstrations of Grandma’s baking. I softened the peeled slices of clementines in sugar syrup and placed them at the base of the cake tin before putting the mixture on top so it’s really an upside down cake. It’s a scrumptious cake to start off 2015 and the ginger gives it an extra kick!

Clementine and Ginger Cake
Some of the ingredients 
5 clementines (sliced thinly and horizontally)
4 oz/100g granulated sugar
250 ml boiling water
8 oz/225g self raising flour
3 oz/75g butter
5 oz/150g marmalade
6 oz/175g golden syrup
2 tsps ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps hot water
1 egg (beaten) 

Dissolve the sugar in the water in a large flat pan (e.g. skillet or frying pan) until it forms a syrup. Add the sliced clementines and simmer until tender (about 5 minutes).  Allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 170 C (150C Fan), 325F, Mark 3. Grease and line an 8 inch/ 20cms cake tin. Arrange the clementine slices on the bottom of the tin. Melt the butter in the golden syrup in another pan. Mix the flour, ginger and cinnamon. Add the liquid from the pan gradually. Add the marmalade and beaten egg and stir in the hot water. Bake in a warm oven for about 50-55 minutes.

Meryl’s tip :  This is a naturally moist cake so use a cake tester to check the cake is fully baked as Grandma says in her book.
Have a very Happy New Year #baking with Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking!  There'll be lots more recipes in 2015 so let me know if you have a recipe to share and what you think about Clementine and Ginger Cake.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Winning ways with Mincemeat Cake

This is a great recipe for a lighter fruit cake at Christmas which I’ve based on one of Grandma’s Family Fruit cake recipes on page 30 of Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book. You can make it in a 8 inch/20 cms round tin.  I’ve also given the quantities below to make 2 small cakes in 450g/1lb loaf tins . I use Grandma’s recipe for homemade Mincemeat   every time!

Mincemeat Cake
4 oz/110g butter 
4oz/110g soft brown sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
10oz/275g mincemeat (you can add 2 oz/50g more dried fruits of your choice such as cranberries or apricots)
8oz/225g self raising flour (or you can use a mixture of self raising and whole wheat flour to give a denser texture)
4-5 tbsps milk
To decorate : blanched almonds, brazil nuts or walnuts as you prefer
Apricot jam to glaze  

For 2 x 450g 1lb loaf tins use
6 oz/150g butter 
6oz/150g soft brown sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
12oz/340g mincemeat (you can add 3 oz/75g more dried fruits of your choice such as cranberries or apricots)
10oz/275g self raising flour (or you can use a mixture of self raising and whole wheat flour to give a denser texture)
5-6 tbsps milk
To decorate : blanched almonds, brazil nuts or walnuts as you prefer
Apricot jam to glaze  

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Mark 3. Grease and line the cake tin(s) with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs gradually and then stir in the mincemeat and flour. Add enough milk to give a moist mixture. Decorate the top with nuts. Bake in the oven for about 1 ½ to 1 ½ hours. Allow to cool slightly for 15 minutes then brush the top with the apricot glaze.

This cake keeps well for 7 to 10 days in an airtight tin. It’s been a winner this year at Christmas Fairs! If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping just yet, get a copy of Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book and enjoy lots more of her wonderful baking!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas homemade gifts are treats to impress

Getting ready for the festive period by making homemade Xmas treats is great fun and so easy! This was the morning’s agenda at Floral Media recently when I showed how Grandma’s traditional recipes made impressive gifts for family and friends for not much money and not too much time and effort. Throughout the morning there was an opportunity to taste the recipes as we went along and one of the participants even said it was like ‘tasting heaven’!

We started off making Cranberry & Apple Chutney  and then Mincemeat  to pot up, once cooled into jars with attractive covers and ribbons.
A Christmassy cake tin contains Boxing Day Cake,  a lighter cake made with dates and honey which can serve as an alternative to Christmas Cake.
Pretty gift bags can hold Coconut Macaroons, Mince Pies, Shortbread and Oat and Ginger biscuits (page 75 of Grandma's book). Smart gift boxes can be filled with Peppermint Creams (page 79) and Almond Balls from the left over Almond Paste. Dip them in melted chocolate (like Petits Fours) to make ideal presents for family and friends.

All the recipes are in Grandma Abson's popular Baking book which is a perfect gift for everyone who enjoys the delights of traditional baking just like Grandma’s!
Many thanks to Paula and Steven for such a warm welcome to this wonderful venue in Caunton, Newark UK. And an extra thank you to Steven for his fantastic support as sous chef! Floral Media Events Guide 2015  is out so book in early for lots of wonderful workshops and events!

And don’t forget to tell me about any home-made edible Xmas gifts you've made or received to add to Grandma’s collection...Happy baking!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Orange and Cinnamon take the biscuit

 Orange and Cinnamon Biscuits
Grandma always made the most of spices in her baking to enhance the flavour and cut down on the need for sugar. These biscuits tick all the boxes for aroma with the fragrance of orange and cinnamon. Cinnamon is one of those very useful spices as it adds flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes and it’s even said to have a beneficial effect on health by reducing blood pressure.

Here is a family recipe from Gill which Grandma would have really enjoyed. These Orange and Cinnamon Biscuits are very easy to bake and make a welcome treat at any time of year!

Orange and Cinnamon Biscuits
2 tsps cinnamon
8 oz self raising flour
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 oz soft brown sugar
1 egg beaten
Zest and juice of 1 orange

Sift the flour into a bowl and mix in the cinnamon. Melt the butter, honey, golden syrup in a pan with the sugar. Allow to cool slightly and then add this to the flour. Add the beaten egg and then the orange zest and juice. Mix well to combine. Place small teaspoonfuls of the mixture on baking trays about 5 cms/2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven  180C/Mark 4/350F for 10-12 minutes until brown at the edges. The mixture makes around 30 biscuits.

Meryl’s tip : These biscuits are very tempting but if you leave them to cool the flavour of the orange and cinnamon intensifies even more! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

No bobbing about for Toffee Apple Cake

Toffee Apple Cake
With the days drawing in, I've been thinking about Autumn recipes. There’s an abundance of apples this year and I love all things caramel. So what about a Toffee Apple Cake? I created this easy recipe based on several of Grandma’s jottings and came up with a fabulous winner. It's a great recipe for Halloween or Bonfire Night and a scrumptious cake for Apple Day on 21 October!

Toffee Apple Cake
175g/6 oz caster sugar
2 tbs water
2 large or 3 small apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
1 orange (zest and juice)
2 tsps cinnamon
225g/8oz butter
300g/11 oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
175g/6oz self raising flour (sifted)
½ tsp baking powder
Line a 20cms/8 inch cake tin with a cake liner or greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan)/350F/Mark 4. Place the caster sugar and water in a pan over a high heat and cook until the sugar has melted and is turning light brown – do not stir. Pour the mixture into the cake tin to cover the base. Arrange the apple slices on top of this and sprinkle with the cinnamon and half of the orange zest. Cream 175g/6oz butter, 175g/6oz soft brown sugar in a bowl and add the eggs gradually. Then stir in the flour and baking powder, orange juice of half the orange and remaining orange zest. Spread this mixture over the apples and bake for around 45 -50 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool.  Melt the reaming butter and soft brown sugar in a pan, and whisk in the remaining orange juice.  Pour the mixture over the top of the apples and allow to cool.
Meryl's tip : I served it with crème fraiche but you could try it with cream, ice cream or with custard. 

There are lots more recipes with Apples in Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book. Here on this Blog too. there are Baked Apples made with Grandma’s mouth-watering pastry. 

I hope you like my Toffee Apple Cake. Let me know what you think? 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Grandma’s healthy baking options

Mens sana in corpore sano with a piece of cake

 I did a talk the other week for a Patients’ Participation group at a Doctors' Medical Practice. There’s no way that I would claim to be a healthy eating specialist but Grandma did leave us some sound advice about eating healthily. Since using less sugar is the advice today, it’s worth remembering that Grandma often enhanced the flavour of her baking with natural spices and would use much less sugar than many modern recipes. Here’s a recipe where you could leave the sugar out altogether as the dried fruit and spices create a tasty cake.

Wholemeal Farmhouse Loaf
4 oz/110g self raising flour
4 oz/110g wholemeal flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 oz/50g soft brown sugar (optional)
4 oz/110g butter
2 eggs
5 tbsps milk
12 oz/340g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed peel)

Sift the flours into a bowl with the spices.  Add the sugar (optional). Rub in the fat until the mixture has a crumbly consistency. You can do this in a food mixer. Beat the eggs and milk together, add to the bowl and mix well. Then add the dried fruit, using a little more milk if necessary to give a fairly soft consistency. Put into a well greased 1lb/450g loaf tin. Bake in a preheated moderate oven at 180C (Fan Oven 160C), Mark 4, 350F for approximately 1 to 1¼ hours.

Meryl’s tip : This is a very easy recipe which can be served on its own or as a teabread with butter. It makes a great snack and keeps well.

Back at the  Patients’ group, I talked about how Grandma had baked in times of shortage. I showed the group food charts which were produced in times of rationing in the 1st World War and the poster campaigns to Dig for Victory in the 2nd World War when foods were often hard to come byGrandma had always used gluts of fruit and vegetables in season to make succulent jams and chutneys as well as fruit pies (no added sugar!) and puddings. 

I’ve been trying out more recipes for cakes and biscuits with reduced sugar content. As the group all agreed, we should still enjoy a homemade treat now and again – it’s the portion size which matters. Here are more ideas and recipes to reduce sugar in baking:

And, as the Latin poet Juvenal confirmed ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ – sharing a cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake is a therapy in itself! What’s your take on this?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My favourite Apricot Jam

Out of all the jams I’ve ever made, my favourite one is Apricot Jam and of course it has to be homemade. It’s such a useful jam as a glaze or seal between layers of cakes. Now we can get apricots on the local market at the height of summer, I can’t resist buying enough to make a few pots. Here’s Grandma’s recipe. It’s an easy one and sets well. I made this batch in under an hour.  

Apricot Jam
Grandma’s rule was approximately 1 lb (450g) (caster or jam) sugar and 1 tbsp lemon juice and ¼ pint water for each 1lb (450g) of fruit.

 Wash the fruit, remove the stones and cut into quarters. Crack open about 3-4 of the stones to remove the kernels. Blanch these in a small pan of boiling water for about 2 minutes. Place the fruit, blanched kernels, lemon juice and water in a jam pan or a large heavy saucepan. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until the apricots are softening. Remove the kernels with a slotted spoon, once they have risen to the surface. Add the sugar and continue to heat gently, stirring until it has dissolved. Add a knob of butter and boil for about 15 minutes. Test for setting. Leave to cool for around 30 minutes then pot into sterilised jars and cover.

I’m always inspired by the vast array of jams at the wonderful Hotel Diderot in Chinon which you get chance to taste at breakfast time each morning.  Laurent and his family have a long tradition of jam making for over 40 years and have published a book dedicated to their wonderful recipes called Jam in the Cupboard.  Have you got a family favourite jam recipe to share?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Summertime with Apricot and Almond Flan

Apricot and Almond Flan
I’m always on the lookout for recipes which make the most of summer fruits in abundance on our local market. Here’s a recipe which Jeannette gave me after a presentation of Grandma’s baking I did at her Local History group. The ground almond filling reminds me of Grandma’s Bakewell Pudding on page 85 of Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book. It’s a delightful summer dessert.

Apricot and Almond Flan
Pastry case
½ lb/ 225g shortcrust pastry  
4 oz(110g) butter
8 oz (225g) plain flour
1 egg
A little water (or a little milk and water)
Rub the butter into the flour and salt. When the mixture is like breadcrumbs, make a well and add the egg. Add the water to make a dough. Let it stand for ½ hour in a cool place before rolling out. 
3oz /75g butter
2 oz/50g sugar
2 eggs (well beaten)
½ oz/10g self raising flour
3oz/75g ground almonds
1lb/450g fresh apricots
Apricot glaze
2 - 3 tbs Apricot Jam
1 tbsp hot water
Make up the pastry and leave to ‘relax’ in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Then roll out the pastry and line a 9 inch/23 cm flan dish. Then make the filling. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and add the beaten eggs. Fold in the flour and ground almonds. Turn the mixture into the pastry case.  Cut the apricots in half and remove the stones. Arrange the apricots on top of the almond filling and bake in a preheated moderate oven 190C (Fan 170C), Mark 5, 375C for about 25 minutes until the top is well brown. Remove from the oven. Heat the Apricot Jam in the hot water until thick and just boiling.  Then brush over the top of the flan. This is a dish which can be served hot or cold and can be served the next day.

Meryl’s tip : You can use dried apricots but soak in a bowl of water for 15 minutes.

Apricots are my top summer fruit. What are your favourites? 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Cameras rolling …….

 Cameras set up in The Great Kitchen
‘Hello, I'm Meryl and I'm going to show you how to make…’ This is how I started a new way of promoting Grandma’s baking legacy by filming some of Grandma’s classic recipes. To be honest, I was scared stiff about being in front of three cameras despite the fact that I'm fully at ease demonstrating Grandma’s recipes and talking about her life and baking. So just like Grandma would, I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in. Now, I can’t wait to see the finished edits!

The film crew comprised five final year undergraduate Media students from the University of Huddersfield. They are a great bunch of people to work with; they even did the washing up between shoots and of course tasted the finished products! The production will count towards their final project. We were filming in The Great Kitchen in The Mansion House in Doncaster. This is an amazing venue with an old cast iron range not unlike the one Grandma worked with when she was 'in service'. 

I chose four classic recipes from Grandma's repertoire to show different baking techniques ; her mouth watering Shortcrust Pastry for a delicious Apple Pie,  yummy Marmalade Spice Cake, scrumptious Scones and a traditional Victoria Sandwich
This cake was named after Queen Victoria who died in 1901. Grandma was 14 years old by then and had already been 'in service' for 2 years. Later on, Grandma won prizes for her light and fluffy version of this classic sponge cake, which she finished with homemade raspberry jam and butter cream. Here's the very easy recipe: 

Victoria's Sandwich
3 eggs and their weight in each of caster sugar, self raising flour and margarine or butter.
Milk to mix. 
Raspberry Jam (Meryl's Tip : If you buy jam, get the better quality, sometimes called ‘Conserve’)
Icing Sugar

“Cream the butter and sugar. Beat the eggs and add to the creamed mixture. Fold in the flour. Add the milk and mix in gently. Put into 2 x 7” greased tins. Bake for 20 minutes in a quick oven.  (375F, Mark 5, 190 C). Then make the Butter Cream as follows :

Butter Cream
2 oz butter
4 oz icing sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
1-2 tbsps tepid water or milk
Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the vanilla essence and water or milk.

When cold, spread the butter cream and raspberry jam on the top of one cake and place the other on top. Sprinkle icing sugar on the top cake. Then it will be ready for the table.” 
Where’s the mic go? 
We've just a couple of sequences still to film then, it’ll be final edits and credits. Thanks to everyone who helped me set this up. Let me know if there are other recipes you’d like to see me bake – I think I've quite got the taste for this filming lark!