Saturday 20 April 2013

A Baking Challenge

Last Autumn I was invited to talk to the Friends of Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham about Grandma’s baking. The Museum boasts a wonderful black leaded Yorkshire Range which was restored in 2005 to working order. From time to time, the Friends show how food was cooked on the range in times past. You won’t be surprised that they ‘challenged’ me to go along and bake with them.
So with some trepidation I went along. I needn’t have worried as the‘Rangers’ were there to give me a hand. The museum staff had lit the fire about an hour before I arrived to get it ready for baking. Penny, Ann, June and Joan all helped me out by keeping an eye on the oven, fetching and carrying water and, best of all, washing up!
Joan had asked me to bake shortbread, so I showed the visitors how to make the mixture by rubbing the butter and flour in a large bowl to make breadcrumbs. Then I added  egg yolks to make a dough. (I saved the egg whites to make some Coconut Macaroons later.) The Rangers took it in turns to roll out the dough and cut into biscuits shapes, topping some with glace cherries and pricking others with a fork to make a decoration. Then it was into the oven for around 25 minutes until baked. 
Shortbread Biscuits 
10 oz/ 275g  butter
1 lb / 450g plain flour
6 oz / 175g caster sugar
1 -2 yolks of eggs
Glace cherries
Rub the butter into the flour and add the sugar. Then add the egg yolks and work into the flour as quickly as possible, making a dry dough. The mixture must be kept dry. Roll out an ½ inch/1 cm thick and cut into rounds. Put a cherry in the centre. Bake for 25 minutes in a slow oven. (300F, Mark 2, 150C)       
Take care with the oven door
I really got into the hang of baking on the Range and the biscuits soon disappeared with the visitors saying they were the best biscuits they had ever tasted! What are your favourite biscuits? 

Thursday 11 April 2013

Down memory lane at the Cake and Bake Show

It was a #caketastic day out last week with a trip to the Cake and Bake Show in Manchester!  
It was trip down memory lane for me, since I spent many summer holidays in the city with my Great Aunt Emma. We travelled from Yorkshire by train to Manchester Central Railway station, and now this former railway terminus has been converted to a major exhibition hall.
Emma's Rock Buns were the best I’ve ever tasted.
What a wealth of wedding cakes, baking ingredients and cake decorating equipment. Indeed, everything you might need to make that glorious creation. 
Celebrity baker spotting in the demo areas
We managed to find a quieter spot for a lunchtime break and try a slice of Bradleys Bakery wonderful Cheese and Onion Pie.

My highlight was to meet @ChrisPBlackburn, the Yorkshire Pudding King from Halifax. Chris was a contestant on ITV’s Food Glorious Food and Yorkshire Pudding Champion, so has a fantastic pedigree where all things Yorkshire are concerned. We had a great #baking #chat and agreed to a Blog post swap later in the year. Did you visit the Cake and Bake Show? 

Tuesday 2 April 2013

A quick and healthy treat!

Fruit & Honey Bars
People often say that they don’t have time to bake. There are lots of things to bake which don’t need huge amounts of prep and are quick to bake. Here’s a quick and healthy treat to make in two shakes! 
Any combination of dried fruits and nuts will do: raisins, sultanas, apricots, cherries, cranberries, dates, almonds, pistachios, walnuts or flaked coconut. *Leave out the nuts if you have an allergy. **I usually leave out the demerara sugar as I haven’t a sweet tooth. I like the tangy taste with adding lemon juice.
Fruit & Honey Bars
12 oz/350g oats
6 oz/175g raisins
*4 oz/110g chopped nuts
5 oz/150g butter melted
**4 oz/110g demerara sugar
4 oz/110g honey or golden syrup
2 tsps lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla essence

Toast the oats in a baking tin at 180C (160C Fan), Mark 4, 350F, stirring occasionally until starting to brown. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Mix all ingredients. Line a Swiss roll tin 10 x 12 inches/ 25 x 30 cms with baking paper. Spread the mixture on top and smooth the surface with a spatula or palette knife. Bake for about 20 minutes at 180C (160C Fan), Mark 4, 350F. Cool and cut into bars.
I hope you’ll enjoy baking them. They're great for a picnic or lunchtime treat.  What would you include as a combination of fruit and nuts?