Tuesday, 31 December 2013

“Heaven, I’m in heaven ....”

Ivy made our fabulous wedding cake
Christmas always has a tinge of sadness when there’s a well loved family member no longer around to celebrate the festive season. And so it was this year for us, when Grandma Abson’s niece, Ivy, passed away in early December 2013, aged 88.
Ivy followed in our great family tradition of baking. She would bake countless Christmas Cakes for family, friends and neighbours, all liberally laced with brandy, adopting the family method of letting her hand slip.  But her prowess extended well beyond producing tasty cakes, puddings, pastries and pies. She followed various cake decorating courses assiduously to develop her skills and became very proficient in sugar craft cake decorating and design, producing numerous wedding cakes with great artistry.
Ivy and Ron’s wedding 1950 
But as well as her culinary expertise, I’ll always remember Ivy for her great sense of fun in everything she did.  She loved dancing and was an ardent  'Strictly' fan, having spent her younger days travelling from her home in Manchester to enjoy the dancing spectacle at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. It hit just the right note when we heard Frank Sinatra singing Dancing Cheek to Cheek'  as we remembered her with much affection at her funeral. So, I’m dedicating this post to Ivy and raising a toast of celebration (a glass of your favourite Chablis) and thanks for her long life. We’ll miss you! I bet you’re baking cakes up there in cake heaven.
Ivy celebrates Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 2012
And, just a final note to the end of the year, in the grand tradition of family baking, I’m delighted to say that Ivy has passed her skills down the generations onto granddaughter, Rachel, who now also excels in cake making and decorating. Long live home baking! 
Rachel’s cake for Kieran’s 21st birthday 


Happy New Year. Let the baking continue!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Make a special Christmas Gift

What a brilliant idea! That’s what the customers said when they saw the basket of homemade edible gifts I was demonstrating at Grandma Abson's  Christmas Bake-in at Cook N Dine baking emporium. 
 I started off with Grandma’s homemade mincemeat and soon the scent of cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg were wafting through the store. Once potted up and decorated, the jars make very attractive gifts.
I moved onto to Cranberry & Apple Chutney. This tasty recipe is proving to be a real hit this year and it’s recipe of the Month at Tasty Flavours in Doncaster Market.
Next was Aunty Emma’s Christmas Plum Pudding and a chance to stir the mixture and make a wish for next year. I showed how to microwave it to cut out hours of steaming.
 Mouth-watering Shortbread biscuits, using Christmas shaped cutters – stars, angels, bells and Christmas trees were simply decorated and wrapped up in small gift bags proved a popular choice.
Spare Almond paste or marzipan, left over from decorating the Christmas Cake can be turned into exquisite Chocolate Marzipan balls in a the twinkling of an eye. Dip the balls in melted chocolate and top with a simple edible Christmas decoration to make a very attractive gift.
 Finally, old fashioned Peppermint creams – so easy to make with icing sugar, peppermint extract and lemon juice (I just use lemon juice and a splash of water to bind them) .
It all goes to show that making a special homemade gift is easy and it’s a perfect Christmas gift!
Happy Christmas everyone
Enjoy baking with Grandma Abson