Thursday, 28 June 2012

You never know what's around the corner

The saying ‘you never know what’s around the corner’ has proved to be quite true for me. I’ve just spent 3 days in hospital undergoing unexpected major surgery. Pleased to say that I am now progressing well at home.
When the anaesthetist and the team were getting me ready for the ‘big sleep’, I started a discussion about the appeal of traditional baking - the simple recipes, the flavour of spices such as cinnamon and ginger together with reduced sugar, as Grandma did in times of austerity and rationing. I soon discovered the team’s favourite cakes.
Chocolate Cake
Victoria Sandwich
Coffee Cake
All this cake certainly took my mind off things as I drifted off into a world of baking bliss.
Back home, I’ve been having lots of  R 'n' R. In fact I’m only allowed to lift no more than a cup of tea. Luckily, a good friend brought me some scrummy homemade scones. It just reminds me how putting the kettle on for a cup of tea and a piece of cake helps deal with all manner of life’s difficulties. And it's so much better if it’s lovingly homemade.
Here's Grandma’s recipe for perfect Scones. I like different varieties but my favourites are fruit scones. Which are your favourites - apple and cinnamon, cherry, cheese.... so many to choose from? 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

It’s Elderflower time

As I look out of the window beyond the garden fence, the Elderflowers are just coming out. These are perfect for Grandma’s recipe for Elderflower Cordial. It's a refreshing summer drink to dilute or to enhance fruit salad.
Elderflower Cordial
2 dozen (24) elderflower heads (remove the stalks)
2-3 lemons (use the lemon rind, juice and cut the lemons into slices)
2 oz (50g) tartaric acid or 1 oz (25g) citric acid
3 pints (1.5 litres) boiling water
2 ½ lbs (1.1kg) sugar

Place everything in a large bowl or saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cover with a cloth. Leave for 2 days. Stir from time to time. Make sure the sugar has dissolved then strain through a muslin cloth and bottle into sterilised bottles. The cordial can then be diluted with sparkling water, soda water or lemonade.
Grandma cutting her 90th birthday cake 
21 June (the longest day) was Grandma Abson’s birthday so it's always a poignant time. She was born in 1886, the second eldest in a family of ten, in a two-up two-down terrace on Ladycroft, Bolton on Dearne, South Yorkshire.  In her later years, we loved to celebrate her birthday, often with a cake and a party in the garden as the weather was usually glorious sunshine. 
Grandma has a recipe for Elderflower Sparkling wine and soothing Elderberry Syrup for sore throats which are also very easy to make. 
Have you tried making any other fruit cordials? 



Thursday, 14 June 2012

Go bananas for Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread

What better way to give dad a treat than to make a homemade cake or pudding for Father’s Day. Dads usually say they like anything homemade and go bananas for coffee cake, and nuts for chocolate cake. In fact one of @GrandmaAbson followers, Keith said 'If most fathers are like me, a cake should be a bit nutty!' So here's a recipe for Banana Nut Bread which should suit him perfectly.

Banana Nut Bread
8 oz/225g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
2 oz/50g margarine or butter
2 oz/50g caster sugar
2 oz/50g chopped walnuts
1 egg (beaten)
3 oz/75g golden syrup (warmed)
2 bananas (mashed)


Sift the flour and salt. Rub in the margarine/butter. Add the sugar and walnuts. Blend the egg with the warmed golden syrup and stir in the mashed bananas. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Turn into a greased loaf tin. Bake for 1 hour. (350F, Mark 4, 180C)

Meryl says : You could even omit the sugar as the bananas and syrup give it sweetness. It can be made with gluten free flour if you add a bit more liquid (2-3 tablespoons of water or milk) to the final mixture. Don't beat or mash the bananas too much otherwise the cake texture is too heavy.
This recipe is from Nellie Abson, Grandma’s daughter-in-law from Stoke on Trent. She shared a number of recipes with Grandma in the 1950s and 60s. When bananas were available again after the end of rationing, this recipe became very popular. The bananas keep it moist, so you can make it a day or so in advance. 

Have a cake treat with Grandma’s baking for Happy Father’s Day! Let me know which is Dad’s favourite cake.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Ring the bell for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Ringing the bell for  Doncaster Queen’s Jubilee
Doncaster rang the bell the special Jubilee event for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations  at Visit Doncaster Tourist Office
Visitors enjoyed delicious homemade Butterscotch cakes, buns and tarts baked by Doncaster College Catering students. They raised funds for their chosen charity, Teenage Cancer Trust, which is devoted to improving the lives of Teenagers and Young Adults with cancer.

Together,we created homemade Butterscotch Tarte, Butterscotch & Orange Cake and Butterscotch & Apricot Butterfly Buns recipes. 
Butterscotch and Apricot Butterfly Buns
4 oz (110g) margarine or butter
4 oz (110g) soft brown sugar
1 dessertspoonful golden syrup
5 oz (150g) plain flour (sieved)
1 teaspoonful baking powder
1 teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoonful allspice
2 eggs
4 oz (110g) dried apricots finely chopped
Few drops of vanilla extract
A little milk to mix

Spread 12 bun cases in a baking tray.  Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350F, Mark 4. Melt the margarine or butter in a pan over a low heat and add the sugar and golden syrup until blended.   Mix together the dry ingredients:  flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, dried apricots and allspice.  Mix together the egg and the milk and add to the other butter/margarine and sugar liquid when slightly cooled. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add all the liquid. Mix well to a dropping consistency.  Fill each bun case with a dessertspoonful of the mixture. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Filling and topping
3 oz (75g) butter
3 oz (75g) demerara sugar
2 oz (50g) flour (or cornflour)
4 fl oz (100ml) milk
Icing sugar
Butterscotch chips

Melt the butter and sugar in a pan (preferably non stick) and stir over a low heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the flour a little at a time, adding the milk alternately. Stir well, using a (non stick) whisk. Allow to cool slightly. Scoop out the top of each bun and fill the hole with the butterscotch filling. Cut the scooped out top into 2 halves and replace them on top of the filling. Sprinkle butterscotch chips over the top. Finally, dust with icing sugar.
Thumbs up for Doncaster Butterscotch recipes