Monday 31 March 2014

Cumberland has its snaps

We always think of tasty Cumberland sausages so when Veronica gave me this old family recipe for Cumberland Snaps, I found the ancient county of Cumberland in the northwest of England had produced another winning formula!

Cumberland Snaps
4 oz/110g caster sugar
8 oz/225g butter
2 tbsps golden syrup
 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp hot water
 8 oz/225g plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 oz/ 50g rolled oats

Pre heat the oven to 160C/325F/Mark 3. Melt the sugar, butter and syrup in a pan over a low heat. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the hot water. Sift the flour and ginger together and mix with the rolled oats. Then pour in the mixture from the pan and the dissolved bicarbonate of soda gradually to make a dough. Roll the dough into small balls (about the size of a walnut) and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
They really are delicious and such an easy recipe. Hurrah for historic Cumberland! Grandma loved collecting and passing on recipes and I’m loving keeping up this tradition. 

Have you a tasty local recipe to share? #keepbakingalive

Tuesday 18 March 2014

A special Afternoon Tea for Mother’s Day

I’ve been experimenting with Grandma Abson’s Victoria Sandwich recipe to create a special treat for Mother’s Day. My friend Charlotte asked me to come up with a homemade ‘All in One Afternoon Tea’ sponge cake for her mum as a surprise for Mother’s Day. Since Charlotte’s mum likes all sorts of cakes, I came up with the idea of a 3 tiered sponge cake with each tier baked in a different flavour and finished with different butter cream fillings. You could say a cornucopia of tastes in a slice!
As a basis for the mixture I used Grandma Abson's Victoria Sandwich recipe with 8 inch/21 cms cake tins for each tier or layer.

Basic Sponge Cake for 2 tiers
3 large eggs and their weight (= approx 6-7oz /175g-200g) in each of
6 oz /175g butter 
6oz/175g caster sugar (*see below for Toffee or Butterscotch use soft brown sugar)
60z/175g self raising flour (sieved)

For 3 tiers use 5 eggs and weight of these in butter, sugar and flour
For 4 tiers use 6 eggs and weight of these in butter, sugar or flour

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Mark 4. Line the cake tins with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs and add to the creamed mixture. Fold in the flour. Now divide the mixture into 2, 3 or 4 depending on the amount of mixture and number of tiers you have chosen.

Create different mixtures as you wish all at one if you have a large enough bowl and several cake tins. I prefer to do this in batches
For a Victoria Sandwich tier add a little milk
For a Lemon Cake tier add the zest and juice of ½ lemon
For an Orange Cake tier add the zest and juice of ½ orange
For a Chocolate Cake tier add 1 tbsp cocoa powder, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp black treacle and a little milk to mix.
For a Coffee Cake tier add ½ dsp coffee essence or powder (Meryl’s Tip : You must grind coffee granules to a powder first!)

*For a Toffee or Butterscotch Cake tier – use soft brown sugar instead of caster sugar.
Put the mixture into the cake tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean or the top is firm to the touch. Place on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack and leave until cool.

Butter cream fillings 
(This will be enough for 3 tiers of cakes)
4 oz/110g butter
8 oz/225 icing sugar
A few drops vanilla extract
1-2 tbsps tepid water or milk

Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and water or milk.

Now choose your fillings :
For a Victoria Sandwich use raspberry jam and butter cream.
For a Lemon Cake add the zest and juice of ½ lemon or 2 tbsps of lemon curd to the butter cream
For an Orange Cake add the zest and juice of ½ orange to the butter cream
For a Chocolate Cake tier melt 1 oz/25g of plain chocolate into the butter cream.
For a Coffee Cake add ½ dsp coffee essence
*For a Toffee or Butterscotch Cake use soft brown sugar instead of icing sugar.

Spread the butter cream (and raspberry jam for the Victoria Sandwich) on the top of one cake and place the other on top.  Carry on with the different tiers and fillings as you have chosen. If you wish you can cover the sides and top of the cake with butter cream.
 Add a Mother’s Day decoration and your home made Afternoon Tea gift is ready to serve for your special Mum!  Don't forget a card too!
Or try a traditional Simnel Cake for Mothering Sunday as Grandma used to bake. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there!

Tuesday 11 March 2014

A Taste of the Irish with Flakemeal Biscuits

Flakemeal biscuits
Some time ago, my saxophone teacher’s sister, Padraigin sent me her family recipe for Flakemeal biscuits all the way from Ireland. I’ve been saving this recipe to make as a special treat for St Patrick’s Day on 17 March. It makes about 36 biscuits and the recipe is so simple but very tasty!
Tommy’s Flakemeal biscuits
225g/8oz Flakemeal (Porridge Oats)
225g/8oz butter or margarine
110g/4oz plain flour
110g/4oz sugar
75g/3oz coconut
Put everything in a bowl and mix well. Make into dough. Roll out onto a floured surface about ½ to 1 cm thick. Cut out rounds with a cutter. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C/Mark 4/350F.
Padraigin writes : “These biscuits are my husband's favourite. I make them at different seasons of the year. I need to go and get the dinner sorted so I can get bit of sewing in later. All the best!” 
She is very gifted at sewing and makes beautifully crocheted hats and blankets.
Here's Kathleen's Apple and Nut Tea Loaf recipe - another Irish treat!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh  (la ale-lah pwad-rig son-ah jeev) which means ‘Happy St Patrick’s Day’! Don’t forget to send me your favourite family recipes to keep traditional baking alive!