Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Carrot Cake stands proud

Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake has been around since medieval days but in more recent times became popular during the 1940s when food was rationed and everyone grew carrots in their gardens. So because there were gluts of carrots, the Ministry of Food distributed lots of recipes to use them up in cakes and puddings.  Carrot Cake has a ‘healthy’ cake tag and also appears in the top ranks of favourite traditional tea time treats. Here's Grandma's recipe for a perfect carrot cake!

Carrot Cake
6oz/175g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
4oz/110g butter
4oz/110g soft brown sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
4oz /110g carrots grated
1 tbsp honey
grated zest and juice of ½ orange

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Mark 4. Grease and line a 7inch/18cms cake tin. Sift the baking powder and cinnamon into the flour. Add the grated carrot and mix well. Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, then add the eggs gradually. Fold in the flour mixture together with the carrots, honey, orange zest and juice.  Place the mixture in the cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes approximately. Leave to cool then turn out onto a cooling rack.

For the topping
4oz/110g icing sugar
2oz/50g butter
zest and juice of ½ orange
Beat the icing sugar and butter together then add the orange zest and juice. Cover the top of the cake with the mixture and arrange the walnuts on top.  Or top with a glace icing or cream cheese instead if you prefer.

Meryl says : Carrot Cake is a moist cake and keeps well for a few days in an airtight container. Could a small slice of this be one of our 5 day a day?😋

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Abernethy biscuits and a quick digestion fix

 Abernethy biscuits
Looking through some old recipe books which Sheila from Eckington kindly sent me, I came across a recipe for the famous Abernethy biscuits. These biscuits were named after Dr John Abernethy, an 18th century Scottish doctor who baked biscuits with caraway seeds which were thought to be beneficial to digestion. They are really an early digestive biscuit and are still popular today in Scotland. I’ve added some oven temperatures to the original recipe. 

 Abernethy biscuits
8ozs/225g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
3ozs/75g butter
3ozs/75g sugar
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 egg (beaten)
1 tbsp milk

Pre heat the oven to 375F/190C/Mark 5 Sift the flour and baking powder into a basin. Rub in the butter.  Add the sugar and caraway seeds and moisten with the beaten egg and milk until the mixture forms a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured board and roll out thinly. Cut into rounds. Place on a greased baking tray and prick each one with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven.

Meryl says : Whether they fix your digestion or not, these biscuits are very tasty. They'll keep for a week in an airtight tin – that’s unless they are snapped up for a morning coffee treat! 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

French Rhubarb Flan isn’t just rhubarb, rhubarb!

French Rhubarb Flan 
The annual Rhubarb Festival of Food and Drink in Wakefield is almost upon us and forced rhubarb is appearing in the markets and grocery stores across the country. I love the tender sweetness of the young rhubarb which is grown in dark sheds in the Rhubarb Triangle in West Yorkshire. It makes delicious  rhubarb crumbles and tartes to savour. Looking through an old recipe book which Sheila from Chesterfield sent me, I came across French Rhubarb Flan. I’ve brought the recipe up to date and added a few more suggestions. It looks impressive but is easy to bake.
 French Rhubarb Flan
250g/9oz Rhubarb
1 tbsp Demerara sugar
175g/6oz shortcrust pastry
50g/2oz butter
50g/2oz (golden) caster sugar
2 eggs – yolks and whites separated
1 tbsp milk
50g/2oz plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
25g/1oz ground almonds
½ tsp ground ginger
50g/2oz (white) caster sugar

Pre heat the oven to 325F, Mark 3, 160C, 140C Fan.
Prepare the Rhubarb
Wash and cut the rhubarb into 2cms/1 inch chunks. Place on a baking tray and sprinkle the sugar over them. Then cook the pieces in the oven for about 15 minutes until tender but so they still hold their shape. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Line a 21 cm/8 inch flan dish with the pastry, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Prepare the Filling
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the yolks of eggs and mix with the milk. Then mix the flour, ground almonds, ginger and baking powder together. Add the flour and egg mixtures alternately to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing well. Place the cooked rhubarb pieces in the flan dish over the pastry and then spoon the mixture over the rhubarb. Bake for 30 minutes and remove from the oven to add the meringue topping.

Prepare the meringue topping
Whisk the whites of the eggs in a bowl until stiff. Add the sugar a little at a time and continue to whisk. Spoon the meringue on the top of the tart and make a pattern of swirls. Cook in a slow oven for about 20-25 minutes until the meringue is slightly brown.

Meryl says : Serve hot or cold with crème fraiche, yoghurt, ice cream or custard. It will keep well for a couple of days. What your favourite Rhubarb recipe? 

Monday, 30 January 2017

Goin’ Courting Cake

Courting Cake
This recipe came from Edith, who was a member of a group in Barnsley where I did a talk about Grandma's baking. ‘Courting’ in the North of England means ‘dating’ or ‘going out’ with a partner. Courting Cake is a traditional cake given as a gift to your ‘intended’ or ‘betrothed’ or whoever you had ‘got your eye on’ as a potential partner! The texture of the cake is denser than a Victoria Sandwich but lighter than Shortbread. It's usually filled and topped with lightly bruised strawberries but I’m hoping the baker’s heart doesn’t get bruised along the way…!

Courting Cake
6oz/175g butter
6oz/75g caster sugar
2 large eggs (beaten)
8oz/225g plain flour
1½ tsps baking powder
pinch bicarbonate of soda
Milk to mix

Grease and line 2 x 8 inch (21 cm) sandwich tins with baking paper.  Pre heat the oven to 180C (Fan 160c)/Mark 4/350F. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and add the beaten eggs gradually. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until well baked. Allow to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.

For the decoration :
8oz/225g strawberries
Double or whipping cream or butter cream
Icing sugar

Whip the cream or prepare the butter cream and spread on one cake. Slice the strawberries and put on top of the cream, reserving some for decorating the top of the cake. Put the remaining cake on top. Either dredge the top with icing sugar or cover with cream or butter cream and decorate with the reserved strawberries.

Meryl says : It’s a good way to use those luscious strawberries which we get all year round now in the markets and grocery stores and makes a gorgeous cake or dessert for Valentine’s Day. What will you bake for your Valentine? 
Try more Valentine Biscuit Recipes from Grandma’s collection :

Monday, 9 January 2017

Warm up with Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding

I’ve just made this year’s batch of marmalade with the new crop of Seville Oranges and I can’t wait to start baking all my favourite marmalade recipes. Here’s an easy Grandma recipe for Marmalade Bread and Butter pudding which will warm us up as well as making us think of the lovely area of Spain where the super Seville Oranges come from.

Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding
50g/2oz butter
8 slices slightly stale (e.g. 1 day old) bread
150g/6oz Marmalade
50g/2oz sultanas
2 tsp cinnamon
Zest of 1 orange  
350ml/12fl oz milk
50ml/2fl oz double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 (large) eggs
50g/2oz caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/355F/ Gas 4. Grease a 1 litre/2 pint pie dish with butter. Spread butter and marmalade on each slice with. Arrange a layer of bread, buttered-side up, in the dish, then add half the sultanas. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and orange zest, then add another layer of bread, sultanas and cinnamon. Warm the milk and cream with the vanilla extract gently in a pan over a low heat. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the sugar. Add the warm milk and cream mixture and stir well. Pour this over the bread layers and sprinkle nutmeg on top. Leave to stand for 30 minutes. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the custard has set and the top is golden-brown. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Meryl says :  Don’t let the milk and cream mixture  boil - just heat gently until warm before you add it to the eggs and sugar. Serve with crème fraiche, cream or ice cream as you wish. Delicious start to the New Year!
Here’s Grandma’s easy foolproof method of making Marmalade

You may also like Grandma’s very popular 

all with a kick of ginger to enhance the taste. Let me know which you like best. Enjoy!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Yorkshire Christmas Spice Loaf comes up to date

I’m always on the lookout for old recipes to bring up to date and at Christmas there’s a wealth of traditional baking to draw on. I’ve adapted this Yorkshire regional recipe which originally came from the 1913 edition of The Imperial Cookery Book to make a scrumptious Yorkshire Christmas Spice Loaf. The original recipe has quantities for a large household but I have reduced the amounts and substituted fast action yeast for fresh yeast. I’ve also replaced half the currants with dried cranberries and increased the amounts of the spices to give a festive touch!

Yorkshire Christmas Spice Loaf

1lb 11oz/750g strong plain flour
8oz/225g butter
1 sachet fast action yeast
½ pint/300ml warmed water
4oz/110g demerara sugar
11oz/300g raisins
5oz/150g currants
5oz/150g dried cranberries
30z/75g mixed peel
2 tsps mixed spice
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps ground nutmeg

Rub in the butter into the flour in a large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the yeast, sugar and water, mixing until a dough is formed. 
Knead for around 5 -10 minutes on an oiled surface until the mixture is soft and smooth or use a dough hook until the dough separates from the mixer bowl. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  This can be up to a couple of hours. Oil 2 x 2lbs/1kg loaf tins. Add the dried fruit and spices to the dough and mix in well. Knead for around 5 minutes and then divide the dough into two. Place the mixture in the 2 tins. 
Leave to prove for another hour or more in a warm place until the dough has risen again and it springs back if you push it lightly with your finger.  Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7/425F. Bake the loaves for about 30-35 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out.
Meryl’s tips : I made a glaze by warming with 2 tbsps of apricot jam and 2 tbps redcurrant jelly in a pan to brush over the loaves once they came out of the oven. Serve with lashings of butter. It’s also good toasted. We’ll be enjoying a slice or two on Christmas morning. A happy and peaceful Christmas to all!

 Try more Yorkshire Recipes from Grandma’s collection :

Monday, 24 October 2016

Memories of Yorkshire Curd Tart

Next to Yorkshire Puddings, homemade Yorkshire Curd Tart is prized above the rest in God’s own Country. Originally baked for Whitsuntide, when there were feasts and fair days across Yorkshire villages to use the leftover curds from making cheese, the filling is made from curd cheese and flavoured with currants, allspice and occasionally rosewater. Theses ingredients are sufficient for a 10 inch/25 cms pie dish or to make 12 small curd tartlets. Grandma Abson's recipe is perfect and not too sweet.

Yorkshire Curd Tart
6oz/175g shortcrust pastry
10z/25g butter
3oz/75g caster sugar
8oz/250g curd cheese
2oz/50g currants
2 eggs, beaten
¼ to ½ tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
1 tsp rosewater (optional)

Line a dish or pie plate (or individual tartlets if preferred) with the pastry. Allow to rest while making the filling. Mix the curds, currants, lemon zest and allspice (or nutmeg) together. Beat the eggs and add to the mixture, Melt the butter and add with the sugar. Pour the mixture into the pastry shell and bake in a moderate oven 180C (fan 160C)/Mark 4/350F for 20-25 minutes until set. Allow to cool before serving.
I posted this recipe for George on the occasion his retirement. I wish him a long and happy one and hope he'll have lots of fun baking! He says “Yorkshire Curd Tart ... gives me such fond memories of my childhood in North Yorkshire. My mother made this and my Auntie Ellen Codling who ran the tea rooms at Shepherds Hall Lealholm near Whitby, assisted by my grandmother. What memories ... tastes and smell remind of us of such wonderful things in our lives.” 
Meryl says :  You can find curd cheese at most large supermarkets and online grocery shopping.  

Try more Yorkshire Recipes from Grandma’s collection :

Friday, 23 September 2016

Speculative venture with biscuits

Orange & Speculaas Biscuits
I'm really taken with the Speculaas spice mix and have been trying it out with more recipes. Here's another take on Orange and Cinnamon Biscuits using the speculaas spice instead of Cinnamon. We love them even more as the flavour is even more intense. 
Orange & Speculaas Biscuits
2 tsps cinnamon
8oz/225g self raising flour
4oz/110g butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp golden syrup
1oz/25g 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 and last well for a few days  if you can resist! Let me know what you think. And try Grandma's Overnight Cake with speculaas too. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Speculating with Speculaas Spice

Overnight Cake with Speculaas Spice 

 Grandma was always keen to use spices to enhance the flavour of her baking so I was delighted to receive a sample of speculaas spice mix from Steven at The Speculaas Spice Company.
It was a tradition in The Netherlands for Dutch bakers to make their own secret spice mixes. Steven has continued the family tradition and the memories from his Grandma’s Speculaas biscuits to set up his own company in London, promoting this wonderfully exotic spice mix which we can enjoy today. His Speculaas Spice mix consists of a mixture of nine spices including cinnamon, cloves, ginger and six other spices. The traditional Dutch way is to use Speculaas in biscuits but I was keen to try  it with Grandma’s cake recipes.

Grandma’s Overnight Cake was a good place to start as her original recipe contains nutmeg, mixed spice and cinnamon. The name of this cake is exactly as it says – you leave it overnight before cooking. I’ve also reduced the sugar in Grandma’s original recipe to let the sweetness from the dried fruit come through.

Overnight Cake 

450g/1lb plain flour
225g/8oz butter
2 tsps speculaas spice mix
50g/2oz sugar
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
450g/1 lb mixed dried fruit
2 eggs (beaten)
1 pint milk (or milk and water) 
Rub the butter into the flour and add the other dry ingredients. Mix in the eggs and milk. Leave in a bowl overnight – in the refrigerator. Place the mixture in a 23cms/9 inch tin. Bake in a preheated oven (300F, Mark 2, 150C) for about 1 ½ hours.
Meryl says : I used 2  x 1kg/2lbs loaf tins rather than a large cake tin. I took the results to Wentworth WI in Yorkshire where I was doing a talk about my Grandma’s life and her baking. The members loved the taste and aroma of the cakes. Thanks to Steven  - I’ll be trying out more of Grandma’s recipes with Speculaas Spice mix. After all, Grandmas did know a thing or two about baking! 

Let me know if you try the speculaas spice mix.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Fond memories of buns

Just to set the record straight what we call ‘buns’ in Yorkshire are sometimes known as small cakes elsewhere across the country. Margaret wrote to me about her fond memories of buns as a child in Kiveton Park near Sheffield when I visited her Local History group to talk about the History of Afternoon tea :

“Before, during and after the war, tea parties would be held on a large lawn behind the houses on Wales Road (now a car park). Kids were excluded but we played on the edges and our mums would usually save a precious bun for their offspring. If we were caught playing on it during the week, we were chased off by Mr Betteridge!”

Maybe Margaret and her chums would be eating a Ginger bun or a Ground Rice bun. Here are some recipes for baking tasty buns from Grandma Abson’s collection :
Buns or small cakes

Which is your favourite?