Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking is all about simple and tasty baking, a legacy from my Grandma's time as a cook-housekeeper in Edwardian times and a lifetime of baking.
As I was growing up, I watched her bake and cook, and acquired her expertise and passion for baking. Now I'm sharing Grandma Abson's traditional baking with baking devotees who remember it first time around and a whole generation new to baking. Enjoy!
Wishes were in the air at Cusworth Hall Doncaster
last weekend. Stir Up Sunday (the last Sunday in the church
year) is the day when everyone has a go at stirring the Christmas Pudding
mixture and makes a wish. June, Hazel (alias Mary and Rose) and I put on
freshly laundered aprons and caps worn by the former kitchen
staff in the Hall and reenacted preparations for Stir Up Sunday
in the kitchens at the Hall, just as in the 1900s.
Stir it up and make
We made the Plum Pudding recipe fromGrandma
Abson's Traditional Baking. The Victorians called raisins 'Plums' hence the traditional name for Christmas Pudding. Grandma generally made her own
Christmas Puddings a few weeks before Christmas and tied them up with clean cloths such as muslin or cotton. The recipe comesfrom her elder sister,Emma.It makes 3 large puddings so I’ve cut
it down here to make one for a 2 pint basin.
275g/10 oz currants
150g/5 0z sultanas
150g/5 0z stoned raisins
75g/3 oz mixed peel
150g/5 0z (vegetarian) suet
150g/5 0z breadcrumbs
150g/5 0z self raising flour
150g/5 0z (soft
25g/1 oz flaked almonds or chopped nuts
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 eggs (beaten)
1/3 small can stout
A little milk
Mix all the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, then the stout and
milk. Mix all well. Cover with greaseproof paper. Steam or boil for 4 hours.Store in a cool place until Christmas
Day. Then, steam for 2 hours prior to serving on the day.”
Steaming the Plum
Pudding (see below to microwave it)
Meryl's tips for a perfect Plum Pudding
1.If you don’t
have a steamer, you can put the pudding basin in a large pan on an inverted
saucer or small plate and pour water to about ¼ of the side of the basin.
the water up in the pan so it doesn’t boil dry.
with skewer – if the skewer comes out clean, then it’s fully cooked. If it
still sticks to the skewer then cook for a minute or so longer.
4.And just in
case … You can do all this in a microwave and make a
microwave Christmas Pudding. Cover the pudding in cling film and for the first
stage, cook on medium power for around 20 minutes. Then leave to cool, recover
with fresh cling film (or foil) and store in cool place as before. On Christmas
Day, remove the foil and cover with cling film, reheat for 6-8 minutes on a
method for cooking, leave the pudding to stand for a few minutes
before serving and prepare Brandy Butter, Custard or cream – whatever you like
best. We always have Rum Sauce.
One of my favourite activities is as a volunteer Trustee and chair
of the local Board forYoungEnterprise. This organisation is close to my heart as it’s all about
promoting an entrepreneurial spirit amongst young people. I know Grandma would
have approved of anyone rolling their sleeves up and getting involved.
Being a Yorkshire lass born and bred, ‘awesome’ is
not a word which frequently forms part of my vocabulary but I would use it to describe the week I spent in San Francisco at the
University of California, Berkeley Haas school of Business on behalf of Young
Enterprise and as a guest of Intel. I was at the Global Entrepreneurship Leadership Symposium
(GELS) during Global Entrepreneurship
week. The participants comprised over 60 academics and affiliates from all over
the world. We visited Intel HQ at Santa Clara at the heart of the world’s exemplar cluster of innovation, the San
Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley. Though coming from very different backgrounds and cultures, we all shared
a common commitment to improving the world we live in by supporting and
mentoring young budding entrepreneurs.
I didn't lose the chance to swap recipes too. This is from a Canadian Grandma who lives in Montreal. It's an awesome cake!
Honey Orange Cake
6oz (175g) butter or margarine
6 level tbsps honey
2 tbsps castor sugar
Finely grated rind 2 oranges
8 oz (or 8 heaped tbsps) plain
3 level tsps baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp orange juice
Cream the butter, honey and
sugar thoroughly together. Add the rind. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding
a little sieved flour with each egg. Fold in the remaining flour and orange
juice. Put into a 6 inch (16cm) cake tin lined with greaseproof paper. Bake in
a moderate oven Mark 3, 325F, 160-170C for 1 ¾ hours.
Don’t forget to send me any of your favourite baking recipes from far and wide. Be enterprising and try something new!
Grandma worked with coal, gas and electric ovens during her life.Her early yearshad been spentcooking on black-leaded Yorkshire
ranges. Having a kitchen range was really a marvel for housewives from the
nineteenth century when foundries began making good-quality cast iron. This
followed on from the first design of kitchen ranges by Thomas Robinson in 1780.In Victorian times the Range was at the centre of family life, providing cooking facilities, hot water and
heat to dry clothes.
As a young girl, Lizzie Cave (later Grandma Abson) lived in the
small two up-two down terraced house which had a black leaded range. As second
eldest in the family, she often said she had to knead half a stone of bread
dough before she went to school. Later, working as Cook in charge in the
kitchens at Oakleigh, a large imposing Victorian house in Wath on Dearne for her employer, Mrs Hick, gaveher that
mysterious knowledge of what was the “right temperature” for her baking. As a result, she never was too
explicit about cooking times and temperatures,with slow, moderate and quick as
Abson's Traditional Baking,I've included a cooking conversion
table for different types of ovens and suggested times and oven temperatures. Keep in mind that modern fan
ovens should be at a cooler temperature than conventional ovens and may require
slightly less cooking time.
Her reply to the question:“When
will it be ready?”was
usually,“When it’s done”!She did, however, make regular use of a
thin cake skewer or cake tester (rather like a thin knitting needle) to stick
in the cake and check if the baking was thoroughly cooked. If it was cooked, there
would be no trace of the mixture when the skewer was taken out, but if traces
of the mixture remained on the skewer, then it needed further cooking time. I
still have her skewer and use it for checking when baking cakes.
It’s great to see there are still ranges to admire around the
country. There’s a range atClifton Park MuseumRotherham,which was restored in 2005 to
working order. You can go to visit and feel the warm glow of the range and
reminisce about toasting teacakes by the fire.
Many Yorkshire folk claim thatYorkshire Puddings can only be made
properly in an old-fashioned kitchen range but don’t let that put you off
making them in your oven at home. Just get the oven hot and the fat sizzling!
I love it when I see the striking fiery reds
and golds of autumn leaves. It’s like a countryside shout out for Bonfire Night
where the traditional blazing bonfire, sparkling fireworks and the guy reminds us of 5 November 1605 when Guy Fawkes was arrested in
the Houses of Parliament in the famous gunpowder plot. It’s time for a favourite traditional Yorkshire recipe
225g/8oz self raising flour
450g/1lb medium oatmeal
1 tsp ginger
Pinch of salt
225g/8 oz treacle
(or 110g/4oz black treacle & 110g/4 oz
110g/4oz demerara sugar
1 egg beaten
Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Melt the butter in a pan
with the treacle and demerara sugar. Mix well with the dry ingredients. Add the
egg and milk. Bake in a flat tin in a warm oven for ¾ to 1 hour. (300F,
Mark 3, 150 C)
let the mixture boil
Parkin ready for the oven
Grandma’s tips for perfect Yorkshire Parkin : Leave the mixture overnight to let the oatmeal fully soak into the treacle. It should be sticky and moist so don’t let the melting treacle, butter and sugar boil. Parkin gets better i.e. stickier if you leave it a few days before eating. That's if you can wait until it’s cooled down out of the oven!
Enjoy Bonfire Night but be safe and take care with the fireworks!