Wednesday 28 November 2012

Best of Grandma’s (& Dan’s) Christmas Baking

Christmas delights from Grandma’s recipes
Christmas baking is underway with the Plum Pudding steamed and the Christmas Cake baked to perfection. Grandma's the recipe has been featured on Deliciously Yorkshire and in MODE magazine. Everyone says Grandmas always knew best!
Homemade Mincemeat and Shortbread Biscuits make delightful gifts. You’ll find more of Grandma's Christmas baking ideas on the Recipes page.
Dan’s Orange & Pistachio Stollen Bars
I’m always on the lookout for something new to try, just like Grandma did over her long life of baking. We fell under the spell of Dan Lepard’s divine Orange and Pistachio Stollen Bars some Christmases ago. Thanks to Dan for your messages on social media; it’s fantastic to be able to pick up more tips to make home baking come alive.
Ingredients for Almond Paste 
Amongst the ingredients, Dan lists Marzipan. I use Grandma’s Almond Paste, left over after decorating our Christmas Cake. 

Marzipan & Almond Paste - what's the difference ?
Marzipan and Almond paste are very similar as they both have the same ingredients but in different proportions. There’s much debate but Marzipan has more sugar which makes it easier to use for modelling and decoration whereas Almond Paste has a higher amount of ground almonds which gives it a stronger almond taste.  It’s your choice! I use lemon juice instead of egg white and maybe a dash of sherry or brandy to mix the paste.
Let me know how you’re getting on with Christmas baking and if you’ve got a favourite family Christmas recipe to share.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Thanks for the Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie with an apricot twist
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November and has its roots in cultural and religious traditions. It’s a public holiday in Canada too but on the 2nd Monday in October. The most popular Thanksgiving dessert is Pumpkin Pie and Grandma had a recipe for this with dried apricots amongst her collection of old magazine cuttings.
Pumpkin Pie 
2-2 ½ lbs/1kg pumpkin
3 level tbsps golden syrup (warmed)
3 tbsps caster sugar
1 oz/25g butter
2 tbsps milk
2 eggs (well beaten)
1 tsps of cinnamon, mixed spice & ground ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice
12-15 dried apricots (soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes)
Peel, remove the pith and seeds and cut the pumpkin into small pieces. Steam for around 20 minutes. Make the Shortcrust pastry and line an 8½ inch/22 cms ovenproof dish with the pastry. 
Bake it blind
Place greaseproof or baking paper on the pastry with a layer of dried beans or peas on top. Bake for 10 minutes in a hot oven 2ooC, Mark 6, 400F.  Mash the pumpkin in a basin, add the other ingredients and mix well. Take the dish out of the oven and remove the paper and dried beans/peas. Pour in the filling, decorate with the strained apricots and return to the oven to bake for about 35 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Pumpkins are much more popular in here too to make soups and other savoury vegetarian recipes but this is a pleasant way to serve a sweet dish for Happy Thanksgiving Day!  

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Go on be a Devil

Devil's Food Cake

Since launching Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking, I've been doing lots of talks and events about the story of Grandma’s life and her baking. I love doing this as I meet people of all ages and share their baking stories and collect even more family recipes. Ayleen gave me her recipe for an amazing Chocolate Cake with the extra twist of ground almonds. Ayleen says it keeps the cake moist for longer.  It’s devilishly yummy.

6 oz/175g butter
6 oz/175g caster sugar
3 eggs
6 oz/175g self raising flour
2 level tsps Baking Powder
1 oz/25g ground almonds
3 tbsps cocoa powder
4 tbsps hot water

Line 2 x 8 inch (20 cms) sandwich tins with baking paper. (Ayleen’s tip is to sprinkle a bit of flour on the bottom of the tin so it’s easy to knock the cake out when it’s cooked.) Use a creaming method to mix the sugar and butter. When the mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs (beaten) and then the flour mixed with the baking powder, cocoa powder and ground almonds. Finally, add the hot water. Bake for about 45 minutes at 170C, Mark 3, 325F. Allow to cool before removing from the tins.
Use a butter cream for the filling to sandwich the cakes together made with 2oz/50g butter and 4oz/100g icing sugar with a few drops of vanilla extract and 1-2 tbsps water or milk.
Make a frosting with a 7oz/200g block of dark chocolate, 4oz/110g butter, 8oz/225g icing sugar and 4fl oz/125ml of water. Mix well and coat the top of the cake.  
A devilish Chocolate Cake is just right for this time of year when we want something decadent on the dark nights. Try a piece!