Thursday 22 August 2013

Grandmas baked the best

Grandma's Doncaster Butterscotch  Cake
One of my favourite recipes  is Doncaster Butterscotch Cake - a sponge sandwich cake recipe based on Grandma's Victoria Sandwich Cake which I baked to celebrate one of Doncaster's famous products, Doncaster Royal Butterscotch.

Grandma  Abson’s Doncaster Butterscotch  Cake
3 eggs & their weight (= approx 6oz /175grams)in
6 oz /175g Butter 
6oz/175g soft brown sugar
60z/175g self raising flour(sieved)

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Mark 4. Line the bases of 2 x 20cm/8 inch sandwich tins with non-stick baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat the eggs and add a little at a time, adding a dessertspoonful of sieved flour with each egg. Fold in the remaining flour. Divide the mixture between the 2 cake tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cakes start to shrink from the sides of the tins and a cake skewer inserted into the centres comes away clean. Place on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the rack and leave until cool.
Butterscotch Butter Cream Filling
3 oz (75g) butter
3 oz (75g) soft brown sugar
3 oz (75g) Icing sugar
Milk to mix
Butterscotch chips for decoration

Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the milk. Cover one cake with the filling. Then place the  other cake on the top. Dust the top with icing sugar and sprinkle the butterscotch chips over the top.

Sunday 18 August 2013

The taste of Lavender is as good as the scent!

Visitors to Cusworth Hall were surprised to learn that Lavender was a popular ingredient in baking as they enjoyed sampling Grandma’s scrumptious Lavender biscuits. As well as being a beautiful plant, Lavender is one of the best kept secrets for baking. Lavender sugar can be used to bake a wide range of teatime favourites such as Scones by substituting the sugar with Lavender sugar in the recipe.
How to make Lavender sugar 

Place the caster sugar in a bowl. For every 4oz/110g sugar, you need a tablespoonful of lavender. Add the lavender to the sugar by pressing it through a sieve with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Put the sugar in a clean jar and add another tablespoon of lavender flowers to the jar. Cover the jar and shake well every couple of days. Leave for 3 to 5 days for the lavender to infuse into the sugar. Then it’s ready to use.
Lavender Biscuits  
150g/5oz butter
225g/8oz plain flour
75g/3oz lavender sugar
1 yolk of egg

Rub the butter into the flour and add the sugar and the salt. Add the egg and work into the flour as quickly as possible, making a dry dough. The mixture must be kept dry. Roll out thinly and cut into rounds. Bake for 25 minutes in a slow oven. (300F, Mark 2, 150C)
Chris at Fragrant Lavender sent me a very simple and scrumptious recipe for Lavender Cakes which uses flower buds mixed with the flour. These are for small cakes which Grandma would call 'buns'. 
Lavender Cakes
4 oz/110g Margarine or butter 
4 oz/110g Caster Sugar
4 o/110g Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
1 tsp Lavender flower buds 
(Chris says: 'I use fresh ones but you could use dried ones.')

Cream the margarine/butter and sugar until light and creamy in texture. Add the eggs a little at a time and beat well. Add the lavender flower buds to the flour then fold into the mixture. Half fill paper bun cases then bake at 180-190C, 350-375F, Gas mark 4-5 for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch.
If you haven’t got lavender in your garden, visit a Lavender farm and pick up a plant.   

Friday 9 August 2013

Gooseberries - the forgotten fruit?

I’ve heard very little about gooseberries for a while and yet this tart berry is perfect in a range of desserts and puddings. A neighbour surprised me with some gooseberries from her garden, so I’ve made a delicious Gooseberry Pie. 
Gooseberry Pie

 8oz/225g gooseberries
60z/175g caster sugar

Prepare the gooseberries by topping and tailing them. Wash them before stewing them in a saucepan with sugar and a little water for around 5 minutes on a low heat. Allow to cool then pour onto a pie dish. Make the shortcrust pastry: For an 8 inch (20-21cm ) pie dish you will need 6oz/175g of flour and 30z (75g) of butter. Rub the butter or margarine into the flour. When the mixture is like breadcrumbs, make a well and add the egg. Knead and add the water to make a dough. Let it stand for ½ hour in a cool place before rolling out. Roll out the pastry to the size of the pie dish and cover the gooseberries. Trim the edges then brush the top with milk. Sprinkle a teaspoonful of caster sugar over the top so it will crisp in the oven. Bake at 200C, Mark 6 for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Meryl says : You don’t need much pastry for this dish as just a pastry lid will suffice.

Here's another old Gooseberry dessert recipe which Peter and Jan gave me a while ago when I was doing a baking talk at Hodsock Priory during the Snowdrop season. Jan has been making this recipe for over 40 years. Try it out and tell me what you think.
Gooseberry Ambrosia
1lb gooseberries + 4 tbsp water
2oz granulated sugar (or more to taste)
1 level dessertsp cornflour (or a bit more to thicken them a little)
8oz plain Madeira cake (Peter says Sand Cake in Grandma’s book is perfect for this)
1oz glace cherries (or a few more if you like them)
2oz butter
2 level tbsps clear runny honey

Top and tail the gooseberries. Simmer with the little water and sugar for about 5 minutes till cooked, but not mushy; remove from heat. Blend together cornflour with a dessertsp water and add to the fruit, bring to boil stirring gently. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken a bit. Pour into 1½ pint shallow casserole. Cut cake into 1” cubes. Halve the cherries. Place butter in saucepan, measure honey carefully and add to the melting butter. When butter has melted, remove from heat, gently stir in cake pieces and cherries until they are coated with the butter and honey. Pile the mixture on top of the gooseberries. Prepare a moderate grill.  Put the ambrosia under the grill to lightly brown the topping. Serve hot or cold, with custard or cream.

Have you any gooseberry recipes to bring this fruit back into favour?