Friday 28 October 2011

Scary treats for Halloween

Scary Halloween Cakes
31 October is an ideal time to get children learning how to bake. Grandma’s recipes for biscuits and cakes make a perfect base to make simple, tasty Halloween treats. At this time of year, I love baking with ginger with its warm Autumn colour. Grandma's recipe for Ginger Buns/Cakes are perfect for decorating with scary jelly or white chocolate monsters.
Ginger buns
50g/2 oz butter
2 dsps treacle
50g/2 oz sugar
4 oz plain flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
A little milk to mix

Spread 12 bun cases in a baking tray.  Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and add the treacle and sugar until blended.   Mix together the dry ingredients - flour, ginger, baking powder.  Mix together the egg and the milk and add to the other liquid when slightly cooled. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the liquid. Mix well.  Fill the bun cases with the mixture. Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes. (350F, Mark 4, 180 C)

You could make these as smaller cupcakes or larger buns in muffin cases but allow another 8 to 10 minutes cooking time for the larger ones. Children can let their imagination run wild and decorate with owl eye balls, ghostly monsters or spidery webs. 
Scary Ginger Biscuits
If you are planning an evening of ghoulish delight on 31 October, get scary with Grandma's recipes and enjoy a Halloween treat! 

Friday 21 October 2011

Bake at half term

Chocolate Coconut Tray Bake
Here's an easy recipe to bake at half term with the kids. My friend’s children, aged 7 and 9, love messing in the kitchen and will devour anything with chocolate. I tried out this recipe on them for Chocolate Coconut Tray Bake. They emailed me later to say ‘We just wanted you to know that the chocolate coconut thing was the BEST EVER!!!!!!!  Praise indeed. Here’s the recipe :

Chocolate Coconut Tray Bake
150g/5oz butter
50g/2oz demerara sugar
2 tbsps cocoa
175g/6oz self raising flour
100g/4oz (dark) chocolate

Melt the butter and sugar in saucepan over a low heat. Mix the flour, cocoa and coconut together and add the mixture to the melted butter and sugar. Spread the mixture in a shallow tin and bake in a moderate oven (Mark 4, 180C, 350F) for around 20 minutes. Leave to cool. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in a saucepan over hot water. Spread the chocolate over the top of the Chocolate Coconut Bake and leave until set. Cut into pieces as required.

Grandma has lots of ideas for ‘baking with kids’ as her recipes as so simple. Her mantra was 'Start them young and get hooked on baking!'  

Enjoy baking at half term and let me know what you bake!

Friday 14 October 2011

It’s Apple day!

Pommes en pate
It’s Apple day on 21 October! This is a relatively new custom which began in 1990 in Covent Garden, London. You can make whatever dish you like, as long as you use apples.

Grandma's favourite apple recipes was Apple Pie but here's one of my favourite French recipes, Pommes en Pate from Normandy. It has ground almonds and a splash of Calvados to bring out the taste of the apples. Grandma loved this one too. 

I use Grandma’s recipe for Shortcrust Pastry and Bramley cooking apples as I prefer their sharper flavour. If the apples are large then you’ll want to serve a half or even a quarter of the dish as it is very filling!
4 apples (peeled and cored)
3 oz/75g ground almonds
2 oz/50g brown sugar (I usually omit the sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
1oz/25g butter
2 tbsps Calvados (Optional)
Shortcrust pastry
Beaten egg (I brush the pastry to ensure a golden crust)
Peel and core the apples
Place each one in the centre of a 8 inch/20 cm round of pastry. Mix together the ground almonds, sugar (if used) and cinnamon. Fill the hole of each apple with the ground almond mixture, add a splash of Calvados and place a small knob of butter at the top of the hollowed core. 
Wrap the pastry around the apple to cover completely. Cover the join at the top with a leaf shape cut out of spare pastry. Brush the pastry with beaten egg. Place on a baking tray and bake in a pre heated oven at 180C, Mark 4, 350F for 30 minutes. A larger apple may require longer cooking time to make sure it is soft. Serve with ice cream, crème fraiche or custard (crème anglaise!) 

Enjoy Apple Day! What's your favourite?

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Getting the best ingredients

Tim and Jane at their stall
Grandma always made sure she sourced good products for her baking and the local Coop stocked most of the things she needed. These days we have a huge choice at local markets, supermarkets, grocery stores and online but there's a real gem of a stall on Doncaster Market called Tim and Jane’s Tasty Flavours for baking ingredients. The stall is in the famous indoor international food hall and rivals anywhere in the world. In fact, Doncaster Market has won many awards and has been the heart of the town since 1194.
Tim and Jane’s Tasty Flavours 
Tim and Jane have been working on the market for over 25 years including 18 years in the indoor market selling high quality fresh fruit and vegetables in season as well as a vast array of cooking and baking products. They have over 1100 products from edible nuts, dried fruits, teas, dried herbs and spices, gluten free pastas, dried beans and pulses. Tim predicts what people want and need at different times of the year so from September onwards, he stocks up on all the ingredients for Christmas cakes and vinegars for pickling. When it’s cooler, more dried beans and pulses are sold. He often gets requests for unusual products when people come back from holidays especially Spain or Greece or following TV cookery programmes which mention out of the ordinary ingredients. Tim encourages people to use fresh produce all year round in their cooking and baking.
Nigel on the fish stall 
What Tim likes best about Doncaster Market is the diversity of products available right across the market indoors and out. It really is a brilliant place for fruit, vegetables, fish and meat and everything that’s best for baking – we don’t know how lucky we are!
And a final word ....
P.S. This is the Wedding Cake  I made from Grandma's recipe with ingredients from Tim and Jane's stall. Many thanks also to Chris Chambers who is an amazing wedding photographer. He took these wonderful pictures of their wedding cake in all its glory!