Saturday 24 December 2016

Yorkshire Christmas Spice Loaf comes up to date

I’m always on the lookout for old recipes and at Christmas there’s a wealth of traditional baking. I’ve adapted this Yorkshire regional recipe from The Imperial Cookery Book 1913 to make a scrumptious Yorkshire Christmas Spice Loaf. The original recipe has quantities for a large household but I've made a few changes, reducing the sugar, using fast action yeast, replacing half the currants with dried cranberries and increasing the spices to give a festive aroma.
Yorkshire Christmas Spice Loaf
1lb 11oz/750g strong plain flour
8oz/225g butter
1 sachet fast action yeast
½ pint/300ml warmed water
4oz/110g demerara sugar
11oz/300g raisins
5oz/150g currants
5oz/150g dried cranberries
30z/75g mixed peel
2 tsps mixed spice
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps ground nutmeg

Rub in the butter into the flour in a large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the yeast, sugar and water, mixing until a dough is formed. 
Knead for around 5 -10 minutes on an oiled surface until the mixture is soft and smooth or use a dough hook until the dough separates from the mixer bowl. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  This can be up to a couple of hours. 
Oil 2 x 2lbs/1kg loaf tins. Add the dried fruit and spices to the dough and mix in well. Knead for around 5 minutes and then divide the dough into two. Place the mixture in the 2 tins. 
Leave to prove for another hour or more in a warm place until the dough has risen again and it springs back if you push it lightly with your finger.  Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7/425F. Bake the loaves for about 30-35 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out.
Meryl’s tips : Make a glaze by warming with 2 tbsps of apricot jam and 2 tbps redcurrant jelly in a pan. Brush over the loaves once they came out of the oven. Serve with lashings of butter. 

We’ll be enjoying a slice or two on Christmas morning. A happy and peaceful Christmas to all!

 Try more Yorkshire Recipes from Grandma’s collection :

Monday 24 October 2016

Yorkshire Curd Tart is the tops

Next to Yorkshire Puddings, homemade Yorkshire Curd Tart is prized above the rest in God’s own Country. Originally baked for Whitsuntide, when there were feasts and fair days across Yorkshire villages to use the leftover curds from cheese making, the filling is made from curd cheese and flavoured with currants, allspice and rosewater. These ingredients are for a 10 inch/25 cms pie dish or 12 small curd tartlets.
Yorkshire Curd Tart
6oz/175g shortcrust pastry
10z/25g butter
3oz/75g caster sugar
8oz/250g curd cheese
2oz/50g currants
2 eggs, beaten
¼ to ½ tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
1 tsp rosewater (optional)

Line a dish or pie plate (or individual tartlets if preferred) with the pastry. Allow to rest while making the filling. Mix the curds, currants, lemon zest and allspice (or nutmeg) together. Beat the eggs and add to the mixture, Melt the butter and add with the sugar. Pour the mixture into the pastry shell and bake in a moderate oven 180C (fan 160C)/Mark 4/350F for 20-25 minutes until set. Allow to cool before serving.
Meryl says :  You can find curd cheese at most large supermarkets and online grocery shopping.  
I posted this recipe for George on the occasion his retirement. I wish him a long and happy one and hope he'll have lots of fun baking! He writes
 'Yorkshire Curd Tart ... gives me such fond memories of my childhood in North Yorkshire. My mother made this and my Auntie Ellen Codling who ran the tea rooms at Shepherds Hall Lealholm near Whitby, assisted by my grandmother. What memories ... tastes and smell remind of us of such wonderful things in our lives.'

Marcel Proust had the same idea about Madeleines. Have you got a memory linked to cake?

Friday 23 September 2016

Speculative venture with biscuits

Orange & Speculaas Biscuits
 I've been trying out Speculaas Spice mix with more recipes. I used it for Orange and Cinnamon Biscuits instead of Cinnamon. It makes the flavour is even more intense. 
What you need 
Orange & Speculaas Biscuits 
2 tsps Speculaas spice mix
8oz/225g self raising flour
4oz/110g butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp golden syrup
1oz/25g soft brown sugar
1 egg beaten
Zest and juice of 1 orange

Sift the flour into a bowl and mix in the cinnamon. Melt the butter, honey, golden syrup in a pan with the sugar. Allow to cool slightly and then add this to the flour. Add the beaten egg and then the orange zest and juice. Mix well to combine. Place small teaspoonfuls of the mixture on baking trays about 5 cms/2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven  180C/Mark 4/350F for 10-12 minutes until brown at the edges. The mixture makes around 30 biscuits.

Meryl’s tip : These biscuits are very tempting and keep well for a few days  if you can resist! And try Grandma's Overnight Cake with Speculaas Spice MixLet me know what you think. 

Monday 12 September 2016

Speculating with Speculaas Spice

Overnight Cake with Speculaas Spice 

 Grandma was always keen to use spices to enhance the flavour of her baking so I was delighted to try speculaas spice mix from Steven at The Speculaas Spice Company.
Grandma’s Overnight Cake was a good place to start as her original recipe contains nutmeg, mixed spice and cinnamon. This cake tells you to leave it overnight before baking. I’ve also reduced the sugar in Grandma’s original recipe and relied on enough sweetness in the dried fruit.

Overnight Cake 

450g/1lb plain flour
225g/8oz butter
2 tsps speculaas spice mix
50g/2oz sugar
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
450g/1 lb mixed dried fruit
2 eggs (beaten)
1 pint milk (or milk and water) 

Rub the butter into the flour and add the other dry ingredients. Mix in the eggs and milk. Leave in a bowl overnight – in the refrigerator. Place the mixture in a 23cms/9 inch tin. Bake in a preheated oven (300F, Mark 2, 150C) for about 1 ½ hours.
Meryl says : I used 2  x 1kg/2lbs loaf tins rather than a large cake tin. 
It was a tradition in The Netherlands for Dutch bakers to make their own secret spice mixes. Steven has continued the family tradition and the memories of his Grandma’s Speculaas biscuits to set up his own company in London, promoting this wonderfully exotic spice mix which we can enjoy today. His Speculaas Spice mix consists of a mixture of nine spices including cinnamon, cloves, ginger and six other spices. The traditional Dutch way is to use Speculaas in biscuits but it works well with cake and pudding recipes.
I took the Overnight Cake to Wentworth WI in Yorkshire where I was doing a talk about my Grandma’s life and her baking. The members loved the taste and aroma of the spice. Thanks to Steven  - I’ll be trying out more of Grandma’s recipes with Speculaas Spice mix. After all, our Grandmas did know a thing or two about baking! What do you think?

Monday 22 August 2016

Fond memories of buns

Just to set the record straight, what we call ‘buns’ in Yorkshire are often called 'small cakes' elsewhere across the country. Margaret wrote to me about her fond memories of buns as a child in Kiveton Park near Sheffield when I visited her Local History group to talk about the History of Afternoon Tea 
“Before, during and after the war, tea parties would be held on a large lawn behind the houses on Wales Road (now a car park). Kids were excluded but we played on the edges and our mums would usually save a precious bun for their offspring. If we were caught playing on it during the week, we were chased off by Mr Betteridge!”

Margaret and her chums would perhaps be eating 
or any of these from Grandma Abson’s recipes for tasty buns :
Plenty to choose from ... so, which is your favourite?

Thursday 21 July 2016

Fruit, Nuts & Seeds for a Summer treat

Fruit, Nut & Seed Bars
Summer’s here and the time is just right to get out those BBQs in the garden or take a picnic to a favourite spot. Bake this easy recipe in a foil container to put out on the garden table or simply wrap and pop in your picnic basket. These bars are packed full of flavour with dried fruits, nuts and seeds and make a healthy treat with no added sugar. 
What you need
7oz/200g butter
6oz/175g honey
12oz/340g porridge oats
6oz/175g dried fruits
4oz/110g chopped mixed nuts
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tsp linseeds
2 tbsps lemon juice 
Preheat the oven 180C (160C Fan)/Mark 5/350F 
Melt the butter and honey gently in a pan over a low heat.
Mix the porridge oats with the dried fruit nuts and seeds, keeping a few seeds back to decorate the top. Add the melted butter and honey and stir in well.
Spoon the mixture into a tin or foil case (23cm x 23cm). 
Scatter the reserved nuts and seeds on the top. 
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.  
Allow to cool before cutting into bars with a sharp knife.
Fruit, Nut and Seed Bars
Meryl says : This is a really versatile recipe which you can vary to your own taste and what’s in your store cupboard. 
I used apricots, raisins and sultanas but you could use other dried fruits such as cranberries, dates or gogi berries
Almonds, brazils, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts were my choice but macademias nuts or pecans work just as well. 
Pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) and linseeds fitted the bill but chia and sesame seeds are equally good.  
Finally, cacao nibs would also give the bars an intense chocolate flavour. 
What's your choice?

Monday 11 July 2016

I should Coco...

Coconut Tartlet
For several centuries since they was discovered by Spanish and Portuguese explorers, coconuts have been associated with the exotic. But in the tropics and sub tropics, they are known for their versatility with many uses ranging from cosmetics to food and even claims as a cure for all sorts of ailments.
Grandma had a number of baking recipes with  desiccated or shredded coconut. The humble Coconut Tartlets recipe is one of my favourites. It makes about 12 tartlets.
Coconut Tartlets
strawberry or raspberry jam
2oz/50g butter
2oz/50g sugar
1 egg (beaten)
2oz/50g desiccated coconut
1 tbsp self raising flour

Pre heat the oven to 180 C (Fan 160 C )/ Mark 4 / 350F. Roll out pastry thinly (2mm) and cut into 12 rounds  with a cutter. Place the rounds in the bun tin. Put half a teaspoon of jam in the bottom of each tartlet. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg and coconut. Place 1tsp of the sponge mixture on top of the jam. Bake for about 20 minutes until the sponge is golden brown. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

For more of Grandma’s Coconut recipes, check out
You should definitely Coco....

Monday 13 June 2016

A dash of ginger makes a Plum job

Plum and Ginger Cake
I love to see Plums appearing at the market since it gives me a chance to make this delicious cake. As always a dash of ginger gives it an extra kick.
 Plum and Ginger Cake
6 plums
2 eggs
4oz/110g caster sugar
5oz/150g yoghurt
2fl oz/50ml vegetable oil
5oz/150g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tbsp demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Mark 6. Grease and line a 21cms/8 inch cake tin. Slice the plums thinly. Beat the eggs yolks with the sugar until pale. Mix the yoghurt and oil into the egg and sugar mixture and then add the plums. Mix the flour, baking powder and ginger together and stir into the mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are firm peaks. Fold into the rest of the mixture. Pour into the cake tin. Sprinkle demerara sugar on the top and bake for around 45 minutes. 
Meryl says : Plum and Ginger Cake is at its best when served slightly warm as a pudding but you can let it cool and serve as a cake. It will keep for a couple of days or so – if you can resist it. Pudding or cake - what do you think?

Friday 13 May 2016

Let’s party with Lily’s Praline Cake

Praline Cake
 I did a presentation about Grandma’s baking for a fabulous group called ‘The Breakaways’. The name of their group was intriguing since, much as they loved their husbands and partners, they just enjoyed a couple of hours 'break' away from home to chat and relax with their friends. They had all sorts of hobbies and baking was high on the list. 
Lily sent me her recipe for one of their favourite cakes – a proper party piece and perfect for a birthday treat – Praline Cake –  and it's very easy to bake. She had been making it since Cadbury Flakes cost 14p so you can tell it’s an old favourite.
Praline Cake
4oz/110g caster sugar
4/oz/110g butter or margarine
2 oz/50g self raising flour
2 oz/50g ground almonds
2 oz/50g coconut
2 eggs
1 Cadbury’s Flake
Cream the sugar and butter/margarine. Add the dry ingredients gradually with the beaten egg. Crumble in the Chocolate Flake. Put into a square tin and bake in the oven 150C/Mark 2 for 45 minutes
Meryl says : I  topped my Praline Cake with butter cream  and chopped nuts to make a perfect party cake but you could decorate with chocolate pieces too. Thanks to Lily, Diana and The Breakways for sharing this glorious recipe!