Monday 23 April 2012

Try the famous Anzac Biscuits

Anzac biscuits
Here’s a recipe from World War 1 baking for Anzac biscuits25 April marks Anzac Day,  a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand to honour the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops who served  during World War 1. The biscuits were sent by mothers, wives and girlfriends to soldiers abroad because they kept well when shipped around the world. 
Anzac Biscuits
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup quaker oats
1 cup margarine or butter
2 tbsps golden syrup
1 tbsp hot water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix all the dry ingredients together except the bicarbonate of soda. Just melt the butter and syrup then add them to the dry ingredients. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the hot water and add to the mixture.mix well. Roll into small buns. Place on a tin and bake at 375F, Mark 5, 190C for 15 minutes or until (golden) brown.
Meryl's tips : The recipe refers to a 'cup'. I measured this as 4oz/110g for each of the ingredients. These biscuits are so easy to make and taste delicious. You can reduce the amount of sugar to less than half a cup if you wish to make them less sweet. I’ve also made them with gluten free flour and they get full marks from gluten free friends.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Get out in the garden!

 My Mini Greenhouse
It’s National Gardening Week and time to get sowing and planting. I love being out in the open air, remembering how I used to help my dad in the garden at the railway station where we lived. He would grow all sorts of vegetables and fruit which kept Grandma busy in the late summer preserving jams, chutneys and bottling syrups as well as serving up fresh vegetables. 

With all this hard work, we gardeners need a break so what could be better than a mug of tea or coffee with a homemade biscuit (or two!). Here’s a recipe for a perfect tea break.
Chocolate Orange Biscuits
5oz/150g butter
6oz/175g caster sugar
8oz/225g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
3oz/75g plain chocolate (chopped)
Grated rind of an orange
1 tbsp orange juice

Pre heat oven to 350F, Mark 4, 180C. Beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy. Then sift the flour and baking powder straight onto the creamed mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients and work the mixture together until you get a fairly stiff paste. Roll out onto a floured working surface, about ¼ inch thick. Then cut out the biscuits with a 2 inch cutter and place on baking sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the biscuits are a golden colour. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes and place on a wire rack. Store in an airtight tin.

Grandma’s hints on how to make biscuits :
Biscuit baking depends on the type of method of mixing i.e. rubbing in, creaming or melting. The main difference is usually the amount of liquid added to the mixture. Just enough is needed to bind all the dry ingredients together as a stiff dough is the usual consistency. Then the dough or paste can be shaped or rolled out and cut without crumbling.
Soft flour such as rice flour or cornflour can be mixed with wheat flour to reduce the gluten content. You can make tasty biscuits with full gluten free flour.
The type of sugar depends on the type of biscuit: 
Caster sugar gives a smoother result. 
Granulated sugar has coarser crystals which give a speckled appearance when cooked.
The same applies to golden caster and granulated sugar and soft brown and demerara sugar. 
Get out in the garden and celebrate everything about gardening everywhere but don’t forget the tea or coffee break!

Thursday 5 April 2012

Simply scrumptious Simnel Cake for Easter

Grandma’s Easter Simnel Cake
I’ve been getting ready to bake Grandma’s Easter Simnel Cake. It’s one of my favourite recipes.  Simnel Cake is said to mark the period at the end of the 40 days of Lent. ‘Simnel’ comes from the Latin ‘simila’ meaning wheaten flour which was used to make the cake.  It’s also a traditional cake for Mothering Sunday. It’s traditional to decorate it with 11 marzipan balls on the top marzipan layer to signify 11 of the 12 disciples of Jesus.  
Simnel Cake
4oz/110g margarine or butter
3oz/75g sugar
1 tbsp syrup
2oz/50g ground almonds
2 large eggs (save some of egg white)
1lb/450g mixed fruit
2oz/50g chopped peel
2oz/50g glace cherries
Grated rind of one orange or lemon
8oz/225g self raising flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp mixed spice
2-3 tbsp milk
Almond Paste
Apricot Jam
Almond Paste 
8oz/ 225g ground almonds
4oz/ 110g caster sugar
4oz/110g icing sugar
A few tablespoons of lemon juice or water
Mix the almonds and sugars together. Add sufficient lemon juice and/or water to make a stiff paste. Chill for 15 to 20 minutes.

 To make the Simnel Cake
Pre heat the oven to 300 F, Mark 2, 150 CMix all of the ingredients except the almond paste together. Some recipes divide the mixture into 2 and place one third of the almond paste, rolled out slightly smaller than the cake measurement with the remaining cake mixture on top. Turn the mixture into a well greased tin and bake for 2 - 2 ½ hours in a slow oven. Allow to cool.
Decorate the cake  
Brush the top of the cake with the apricot jam. Roll out the almond paste and place on top of cake. Shape any remaining almond paste into 11 balls and arrange them around the edge of the cake and brush with egg white.  Place under a hot grill or in a very hot oven for 1- 2 minutes to allow top to brown. To finish off, then decorate with Easter chicks and mini chocolate eggs.
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Have a wonderful Easter!