Monday 31 December 2012

Ring out the bells

As the bells ring in the New Year, I’ve lots of memories to cherish. Talking about Grandma’s recipes has brought me more forgotten recipes for me to share; demonstrating Grandma’s simple baking skills is inspiring a whole new generation at events for various charities including Teenage Cancer trust to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with Grandma’s Doncaster Butterscotch recipes
The Gamesmaker experience at the London Olympics 2012 was one of my most memorable moments including the Olympic Orange Cake for our final evening’s shift. How fitting that the start of the London 2012 Olympics began with the now Sir Bradley Wiggins ringing the bell. It reminded me of the popular nursery rhyme we used to play in the school playground. This starts off with ‘Oranges and Lemons say the bells of St Clement’s....’  The citrus fruits were unloaded in the quaysides close to the city of London and the churches nearby.
Scrumptious St Clement’s Pie
Grandma had a recipe for St Clement’s Pie, perfect for a New year dessert. She made it just like her Lemon Meringue Pie but used both oranges and lemons in the filling. She would line a pastry base with baking paper and dried beans or peas, bake it blind and then pour in the filling. When this cooled a little, she would whisk up the egg whites for a sumptuous meringue.
Bake it Blind
What will next year bring? I’m finding new ways to share Grandma’s baking all the time. The ebook version of  Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking is now ready with more recipes so I hope that you’ll be downloading it right away. I’m  excited about filming some of Grandma’s signature baking with students from the University of Huddersfield and sharing more experiences of traditional baking across the country.   
It only remains for me to wish you all a very Happy and baketastic New Year! 

Wednesday 12 December 2012

A very Dutch Celebration Christmas Wreath

Prettige Kertdagen
My Dutch friend, Cobi, who has lived in Yorkshire for over 30 years, is busy making her delicious Celebration Christmas Wreath to her Grandma’s (Oma’s) special recipe.  
It’s similar to the Celebration Stick she makes at Easter.
The Christmas season is in full swing in Holland as on 5th December St Nicholas (Sinterklass) arrives in Amsterdam with Black Peter (Zwarte Piet) in a boat from Spain, bringing presents and sweets for the children. The adults wrap their presents up for family and friends, rather like Secret Santa presents. They write a poem (Cobi says it can be humorous but not unkind) to highlight the receiver’s personality. Sometimes there’s a treasure hunt around the house with messages to lead you to your gift. Christmas Day is usually a quieter time with a church service and family m
Celebration Dutch Christmas Wreath
125g   ground almonds
125g sugar 
1 egg (Meryl’s Tip : Since this recipe is cooked in the oven, I’m happy to use a raw egg in the filling. Otherwise use Grandma Abson’s Almond Paste recipe and bind the mixture with water and lemon juice)
Finely grated rind of a lemon
Juice of a lemon (If a stronger flavour is preferred, then use more lemon rind).
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until it forms a paste. Cover and leave to stand for an hour.
Puff pastry
To decorate
Apricot jam
Glazed cherries (mixed colours)  and strips of orange peel

Roll out the pastry thinly, about ½ cm thick, into an oblong shape of about 35-40 cm long and 12-15 cm wide.  Roll the almond mixture (marzipan) into a long sausage shape and place it on the pastry. Wrap the pastry around the mixture and shape it into a circle. Slightly wet the sides and ends and push one end into the other to stick it together.  Place the wreath on a baking tray. Brush with beaten egg. To finish off the decoration, cut out some holly shapes, stars or bells and lay them on the top of the wreath. Place in a hot oven, about 220C, 425F, Mark 7 for about 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool. 

When completely cold, warm 4-5 tbsps of apricot jam in a pan until it’s runny.  Spread the jam over the baked wreath.  For a final decoration, you can use glazed cherries and orange peel strips as you wish.
 We love anything with Almond Paste
What’s your favourite recipe for this time of year?